Biff! Sock! Pow! LEGO games have grown up!
I mean, not really. It's LEGO. It's still for kids and grown-up kids. I just like to make fun of condescending headlines. With LEGO Batman 2: DC Heroes, however, the LEGO games have matured. They've sprouted bricks in new places. They've discovered story. All they want to do is hang out with their friends...
The game is, of course, a sequel to 2008's LEGO Batman
, and all the core gameplay elements are intact. Assuming the role of numerous characters players navigate levels made up of both LEGO and solid objects, fighting baddies and solving environment-based puzzles. That's the crux of it. LEGO Batman 2
is fun in all the ways its predecessors have been, but it has a bit more heft than we've seen before.
As the player moves around LEGO Gotham he/she acquires various new abilities. Some of them, such as gliding/sound-shooting sonic powers come via suits, Mario
-style. Other powers come via the first, most obvious change in the series – a whole host of new characters from the wider DC universe, including the likes of Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. On the powers front Superman, for example, brings heat vision, full flight and super-breath to the table.
One of the great things about the LEGO series is that it's so refreshingly videogamey. With no pretence of realism, Traveller's Tales is able to throw whatever weird, freaky puzzles and level designs at you it damn well pleases. There's no need to justify the existence of a maze at Arkham Asylum, and TT is at liberty to stuff it full of electric gates and man-eating plants without a second thought as to what they're doing there.
This means there are lots of elaborate level designs and puzzles in place. I sometimes like to imagine TT as a studio full of people in lab coats with Einstein hair and strange chemicals that look like they came from Funhouse
all over them. It's that
sort of level design.
Similarly, there's a danger that the inclusion of characters like Superman could unbalance the game. But, hey, they're not trying to convince you this is a real scenario. His abilities are simply scaled back a bit and the fact that he's invulnerable doesn't matter too much anyway, given that any other character that actually does die simply re-spawns moments later anyway.
Two-player co-op is possible through split-screen, and teamwork really is integral to the game – sometimes to the detriment of the single-player experience.
Combinations of the powers held by two of the characters on screen will often be required to complete a puzzle. You can switch characters at the tap of a button, but the AI can be painfully useless when left to its own devices. Not only will it not do anything to co-operate in your puzzle-beating endeavours, it will also do very little to fight enemies or even stay out of your way. Having to shuffle Superman around the screen because Batman (a tactical genius, no less) is standing in the way of your heat vision is not cool.