NOTE: Hello everyone. From time to time I'll hand games I'm not too fond of an assignment over to a special guest and give them free reigns. Today I present you with the here-for-beer-and-kicking-ass review for Lego Batman: The Video Game (PS2) by my good friend Barry "Hyperlink" Peterson. So here we go. As always feel free to let us know what you think in the comments section.  Thanks Barry.

Okay, to be perfectly honest I considered starting this out with quoting Robin on a really bad “Holy (insert funny quip here), Batman!” But the sheer number of possible Lego-Batman combinations made my amygdale tingle a little bit, so I figured I better stop trying.  Apparently that’s an important part of my brain, I may need it in the future sometime.

So, onward to the business at hand and a somewhat fleeting glance at “Lego Batman” the latest in Traveller's Tales' series of Lego games.  Naturally some of you are probably familiar with the other games in the series, Lego Star Wars, Lego Star Wars II, and more recently, Lego Indiana Jones.  This one’s got a lot of the same irreverent humor and oddball, nay, screwball comedy that made all the other games so much fun.  Heck, what’s funnier than seeing Robin make a total ass of himself throughout the game?  After about three levels you’ll wish Chris O’Donnell  was dead.

GAMEPLAY

If you’ve played any of those games you’ll be glad to know that the control scheme for Lego Batman is the same as all the others, so there isn’t much to learn.  If you’re getting into this on PS2 (like me) or PS3, the controls are simple enough, CIRCLE to build stuff, X to jump, SQUARE to attack.  One new feature for Batman is the God-given Batarang.  Seriously, what’s Batman without the Batarang?  A rich kid with a goth fetish and overwhelming social awkwardness, that’s what.  Hold down attack button and a little Bat-symbol target pops up, just move it around to lock on targets (up to 5 at a time) and let it fly.  Robin’s got his little “R” logo thing to throw stuff too, but that doesn’t change the fact that he seems like he’d be better suited for an upcoming Lego Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Of course there is the usual quest to collect as many of the little Lego “studs” as you possibly can.  The more the merrier, right?  Just smash up a park bench, trash can, flowers, whatever and the studs come flying out.  Collecting a certain number in a level earns you a “Superhero” tag.  That’ really means nothing.  Don’t get too terribly excited about it.  Most of the levels are massively interactive, or as my girlfriend would say “wreckable.”  So there is no shortage of studs.  Just like your mom's house.

Overall, gameplay is pretty straight forward, it’s basically just a glorified side-scroller, with a little bit of 3d movement thrown in.  Unfortunately that causes it to have the same problem the other Lego games have.  Moving around can be a bit disorienting, and sometimes downright frustrating when driving a Lego bulldozer or Robin’s stupid little “watercraft.”  It takes a bit of getting used to, but eventually most of us pick up on the awkwardness of it.  It’s especially weird when you’re trying to do something near the background and can’t quite figure out how to do what you want.  But don’t worry, it happens to the best of us

I like the different suits that Batman and Robin can don, depending on the situation they happen to find themselves in.  Need to fly a little bit? Grab the Glide Suit.  Gotta walk up a wall?  Have Robin throw on the Magnetic suit.  Need to distract someone, throw this one  on.

THAT’S FINE AND ALL, BUT I ONLY CARE ABOUT HOW IT LOOKS

Whatever.  The game looks like a Batman movie, in fact, like every Batman movie you’ve ever seen.  And don’t try to tell me you didn’t see “Batman and Robin,” I know you did.  Don’t be ashamed. That’s back when Alicia Silverstone was still hot. The game has a lot of dark levels, don’t try adjusting your tv’s resolution, it’s supposed to be that dark.  That’s cool and all, but it can kinda make Catwoman tough to see.  I made up for that by imagining it was Michelle Pfeiffer, after that she couldn’t have escaped my gaze with Harry Potter’s invisible cloak thing.  Damn, did I just admit I watch Harry Potter movies?  Don’t tell my D&D clubLosers.

Lots of bright colors and lots of black.  I’m certainly glad they kept the old school Robin color scheme, none of that boy-loving purple crap from the movies.  Again, why isn’t Chris O’Donnell dead?  Or at least completely black listed from ever making movies again?  I imagine he should just be doing really lame stuff like kids birthday parties and made for TV Christian movies.

They’ve thrown in a lot of the visual stuff you would probably expect from anything Batman-related, dreary, dystopian Gotham, tall buildings (for leaping in a single bound; wait, no, sorry, wrong cape), and the most seemingly random assortment of locales. But don’t worry, they all make sense.  You gotta chase the Penguin through a zoo and wildlife park thing.  Makes sense, right?  Killer Croc is in the sewers.  Right on. Catwoman at a strip club.  Nah, just kidding.

BUT WHO DO I GET TO ROUGH UP? ROBIN AT LEAST?

I guess the best thing about the game (and maybe the worst) is that it includes just about all the Batman villains you can name.  Well, maybe more than you can name, what with your limited Dark Night knowledge.  It’s got the big ones, Joker, Penguin (Burgess Meredith style, sorry De Vito), Riddler, Two-Face, and Catwoman.  But it’s also got some of the lesser known baddies like Bane (sans back-breaking ability; look it up chump), Killer Croc, Mad Hatter, Man-Bat, Mr. Freeze (NOT starring Mr. Schwarzenegger) and a couple others characters too obscure for you to wrap your feeble mind around (Hush?).

The regular old goons are a cinch to kick around; you shouldn’t have any trouble with them.  Some of them have guns though, so be on the lookout for them, Batman isn’t bulletproof remember.  The set up is the same as the other Lego games, you die when you run out of your four little heart things.  As long as you’ve got some studs you’ll continue to respawn.  In a one player game, your other half might be getting his ass handed to him, but don’t worry, he’ll stick around as long as you do. 

The bosses are a bit more complicated, but that’s to be expected from any game right?  Except maybe Pong.  But you get the idea.  I’m not gonna spoil any fun for you by telling you how to beat the bad guys, if you’re totally stuck just Google a walk-through.  And no, I won’t include a link to one.  You want me to do everything for you.  The guys aren’t that hard, just take some time and think things through, I’m sure you’ll get it.  Then you’ll be happy

And yes, you can punch Robin in the face.  And yes, it will hurt him.  And yes, he deserves it.

WILL IT STIMULATE MY SENSE?

Well, the game sounds good for the most part.  Like the other Lego games there is no spoken dialogue.  Intelligible speech is replaced by grunting noises and contorted facial expressions.  Kind of like an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.  This may or may not be a good thing, as I for one would be quite happy to hear the soothing voice of George Clooney as the Caped Crusader.  Or even Adam West. Yeah, Adam West.

Sounds in the game are otherwise pretty standard, punches sound like punches, glass breaking sounds like glass breaking.  Don’t expect the sound to win any awards, but it certainly does go perfectly fine with the rest of the game.  It all makes a nice ensemble. 

Mentally the game is challenging enough to not be boring, but easy enough to not be ridiculously frustrating.  A couple hours of play will get you through most of the game, unless you go through on Free Play.  Free Play basically lets you wander around the game without having to worry too much about getting through levels in order to advance the story.  And there is a TON of stuff to do.  It can pretty much keep you occupied for a day.

ENOUGH TOMFOOLERY, BOTTOM LINE!

Bottom line is that if you like Batman you’ll probably like this game.  It’s not the most technically advanced game ever, but that’s what you should expect from the Lego series.  It’s a good time, even if you’re not playing.  It’s pretty fun just to watch the cut scenes, they’re about as funny as any other game that’s come out recently.  I recommend giving it a spin if you’ve got a free afternoon, and you’re looking for something relatively easy.

That’s it for now, thanks to Joe Cruz for letting me do this, hopefully he’ll have me back sometime.  But I guess that’s up to the fans.  Just remember, if you don’t want me back, the terrorists win.

Lego Batman: The Video Game was developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.  It' was released on September 23rd and is now available from $29.99 to $49.99 for the following platforms: Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii and Xbox 360.  Played through completion on Playstation 2.  Screenshots borrowed from 1UP.com.  Box art borrowed from IGN.com.

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