I’ve gone on record with how much I enjoy Lego games. Traveller’s Tales seems to put tons of love and effort into making every game the best fan service possible for each game. This second foray into Gotham is no exception. This open world experience does a good job of making you feel like the Dark Knight and his costumed allies in the Justice League. Hit the jump for my full breakdown.
While the story is your standard good guy always one step behind the bad guy until the end plotline, how it gets to the end is innovative. The first third of the game has you controlling the Caped Crusader and his sidekick, the Boy Wonder. This plays as you would expect, with Batman and Robin doling out swift Lego-y justice in between solving puzzles and platforming their way across levels. The middle third has Batman teaming up with the invincible Superman and his near game-breaking abilities, including flight, heat vision, and more. The final act has you teaming up with the entire Justice League to stop the Joker and Lex Luthor. This constant switching of characters and abilities helps keep the game from feeling stagnant and repetitive. As soon as you master all the gadgets, powers, and abilities, the game throws something new at you to keep you invested. I do wish you spent a little more time with the full Justice League, but that’s what the giant open world is for.
Gotham is the hub world from which you can play around to your heart’s content; and when I say play, I mean fly around as Superman, screech around corners in the Batmobile, or zoom around as The Flash. As is other Lego games, there are hundreds of collectibles and unlockables to go after. After spending around 20 hours in the hubworld alone, I can honestly say that this was my favorite rendition of Gotham bar none. The freedom to go from the Batcave, to Arkham Asylum, to the top of Wayne Tower is exhilarating. Even the campaign levels add to the fun, spanning the city and beyond, with one level having you fly to LexCorp Headquarters in Metropolis.
Traveller’s Tales did a great job with the locations, but the game wouldn’t be as enjoyable without their trademark humor. Breaking news reports in between missions poke fun at Rocksteady’s Arkham City game and more. Batman is shown as a cantankerous brooder, while Superman is the goody two-shoes that constantly wants to help. The banter between these two is hilarious, especially in this scene. There’s even an achievement for beating General Zod as Superman.
One of my favorite parts of Lego Batman 2 has to be music that plays as you traverse the cityscape. When you’re playing as Batman and grappling around, the theme music from the 1980s Tim Burton directed Batman blares from your speakers. As soon as Superman takes flight, John Williams’ theme music from the Christopher Reeve Superman kicks in. I found myself flying around in circles, smiling like a lunatic, while this classic tune looped over and over again.
Now as fun and entertaining as this game is, there are rough spots. The platforming swings from floaty and irritating to downright awful and infuriating. A single misstep or one second of clipping through the environment can lead to trying the same section over and over again. While though the platforming is bad, the flying controls can be even worse. If you’re in the wide open sky, you can feel like the real Man of Steel, but once you’re anywhere near a solid object the camera does its best to screw you over. Trying to fly into certain areas can be worse than banging your head on a desk repeatedly. One particularly long platforming section had me spend almost 10 frustrating minutes trying to get from one rooftop to another on the other end of the city.
Another gripe I had with the game was the repetitive nature of the platforming puzzles. During the story missions, you rarely, if ever, repeat a puzzle, while during free roam, you can spot the same puzzle multiple times within a few blocks of each other. Then even if the puzzles are different, you can only solve the majority of them as either Batman or Robin. You would think that with the wealth of characters that were put in the game, most of which have similar powers, you could mix and match them to achieve a sense of variety but no. Many times I’ve found myself getting close to finishing a puzzle to unlock a collectible, only to find that I need Batman or Robin and one of their multiple suits which can only be found by backtracking to the beginning of the puzzle and doing it all over again.
Don’t get me wrong, this game is a blast to play. Even through all my struggles, I still want to 100% this game and I’m damn close too. Yes there are rough patches that make me want to take the disc out and hurl it like a Batarang at the closest solid object, but once you take to the skies as Superman, and that iconic orchestral theme kicks in, most of the struggles and hardships seem to fade from view and you can enjoy zooming around at supersonic speeds. That is until you get too close to a building and the camera swings around behind you and forces to to fight the controller to get him pointed in vaguely the right direction. If you like the source material, you’ll enjoy this game. If not, I’d suggest starting at the better crafted Lego Lord of the Rings, where the frustrations aren’t as evident.
[+Trademark humor] [+Playing as Superman] [+Iconic theme music] [+80% of the game is post-campaign] [+Best Superman game to date] [-Platforming isn’t as crisp as it should be] [-Flying controls are mostly a pain in the ass] [-Puzzles get repetitive] [-Not giving you the ability to solve puzzles as different characters] [-Frequent graphical hiccups]