I love LEGO. I love comic books. I love video games. And I really, really love Batman. So when you find something that combines all these wonderful things into a single product, you'd pretty much assume that it was the most awesome thing every made. You'd almost be correct.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, LEGO Batman: The Videogame. Unsurprisingly, the company behind the magic, Traveler's Tales, has attempted to make it a bigger, badder, better sequel in every way. They mostly succeed because of two things... 1) The game is huge, and has the entirety of Gotham City available as an open-world zone, and 2) Batman & Robin are joined by a bunch of other heroes from throughout the DC Universe. The end-result is far from perfect, but so much fun that it's easy to overlook the flaws...
And speaking of flaws, I might as well get the bad news out of the way...
First of all, there isn't much new here. If you've played the LEGO Star Wars games, LEGO Indiana Jones games, LEGO Harry Potter games, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean games, or the previous LEGO Batman... you've played this. But you already knew that would be the case.
Secondly, the "driving" levels are still just as pointless, shitty, and impossible to control as ever. Why Traveler's Tales ignores the criticism from, well, everybody, when it comes to the sloppy controls, redundant gameplay, and overall frustration on every LEGO driving game they've made is a complete mystery to me.
Third, the new "open-world" that allows you to explore a sprawling Gotham City is a fantastic addition to the game (especially when you are flying above it all as Superman!)... but navigating it is a hellish ordeal because there's no HUD or mini-map or decent navigation tool to help you get around. I have no clue whatsoever as to why Traveler's Tales ignored this basic video game staple, but it's an oversight that seriously undermines the fun to be had.
Putting all that aside, there's some new stuff that's kind of cool...
In addition to the "open-world" that I can't shut up about, Batman and Robin each get a new specialty suits, which is always cool, but the addition of characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, and others, mix up the game even more. That's beyond cool.
As expected, the stories are funny, the visuals are fantastic, the levels are nicely designed, and the puzzles are really well done. What was unexpected was the characters talk! No longer reduced to pantomime for communication, the LEGO mini-figs have entirely new appeal now that they can actually talk. Bonus? The voice talent they got was perfect.
But the biggest improvement? I didn't find myself falling off things nearly as often as I did in previous LEGO video games. I still have nightmares of dying again and again and again as I tried to jump from platform to stupid platform with the insane precision required in LEGO Star Wars, so this is a welcome relief.
Everything else is pretty much more of the same as all the other LEGO games. Team-play is still available so you and a friend can battle together. You still have to button-mash your way through redundant combat as you solve puzzles. You still have to collect LEGO studs, red bricks, gold bricks, and other stuff so you can unlock characters and features. You still can't really die. And once you finish all the levels, you still have untold hours of gameplay left as you obsess over collecting every last prize and achievement to be found by replaying levels as different characters.
Needless to say, I love it.
Next up? LEGO Lord of the Rings... I can't possibly imagine how awesome that game will be.