The Dreaded Backlog: Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Welcome to THE DREADED BACKLOG! It’s incredibly easy to buy video games, but it takes a lot more time to play through them. All of us have a backlog of good gaming intentions that need to be fulfilled. Together we must overcome the overwhelming threat of THE DREADED BACKLOG!
I enjoy the Lego games, so don’t doubt my positivity when I say this is the best Lego game I have ever played and this far in that is a miracle.
I was always cynical about the newer wave of Lego games. I wasn’t sure about the usage of voice acting rather than pure silent parody. I didn’t think new features, such as open worlds, would revolutionise the series. For all intents and purposes this game doesn’t revolutionise the older Lego games. It does what all good video game sequels do: take the base gameplay, the refine and add to it and then improve the stories and characters, all whilst updating the visuals for all of the above.
The story isn’t a stroke of genius, but rather an intelligent combination of various Superman/Batman stories from the comic book mythos. I was most reminded of the Batman and Superman story Public Enemies, including a moment when Lex Luthor is fooled by the duo swapping costumes. This was amusing in the comics given Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent history of being drawn very similar, however this is even funnier when considering how further identical they are as Lego minifigs.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Xbox 360) has Lex Luthor and The Joker team up to defeat Batman and Superman. Joker has brought his Joker-mech to play and Lex has a ray-gun that disassembles anything made of black Lego bricks, providing an Achilles’ heel for Batman to match Lex’s supply of Kryptonite he has for Superman. When all of this is told through the medium of Lego comedy versions of the two icons, the humour comes thick and fast. Batman has to borrow the repulsively colourful vehicles usually belonging to Robin. Meanwhile Robin (Tim Drake I believe) himself is busy idolising Superman much to Batman’s chagrin. Batman and Superman’s clash is not the moral debates in the comics, but rather grumpy egotistical Bruce rubbing up against the godlike bright-and-happy boy scout Clark. Ironically however, it is Batman who overcomes his pride in the end to call for the help of the Justice League.
My one disappointment in the game lies with the Justice League. They turn up for the last three levels and there is no appearance from wider villains from the DC mythos, just Lex plus the Arkham Asylum usuals. However some of these characters can be collected in the open world of Gotham through side mission and brick points unlocks. These limitations are clearly in place as to not blow their DC wad before the third Lego Batman game is released. Regardless, it is still a great pleasure to see Lego versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg and Martian Manhunter standing next to each other. Even without the voice acting talents of the DCAU usuals (especially without Kevin Conroy’s Batman and Mark Hamill’s Joker) the characters all bounce off each other with verbal wit as much as the colourful visuals pop.
The aforementioned colourful visuals also have a much needed upgrade from the first era of modern Lego games. The characters move and look better. The parts of the world not made of Lego bricks are also rendered better without losing any of the simple aesthetic that lets the two styles blend. Something that always disappointed me about Lego games is that most of the worlds aren’t made of Lego, let alone entirely made of Lego. However I had no issue with that in this game.
My other biggest problem with Lego video games is the monotony. You’ve played most of the gameplay features usually by the end of the first level, which is a problem in a game with 15+ levels. However Lego Batman 2 introduces new features such as seeing through walls, invisible Batsuits, driving and flying combat (better than the awful sections in previous games), pole vaulting, playing with coloured chemicals and water, freezing water to climb it and so on. Whilst the game initially provides these abilities as Bat-gadgets they end up later presenting themselves as abilities of superpowered individuals. Some builds fall apart when being built so only The Flash is fast enough to put them together. Superman can shoot through gold walls with his laser sight and Green Lantern can use telepathy on green bricks for any purpose. In addition to all this the basic hitting punch to attack mechanism has been refined. Updated animations make this tired button bashing fresher. All in the all, whilst the newer features establish themselves as early as the old features do, the number of gameplay options now on hand allows proceedings to be mixed and matched enough to provide a consistently fresh experience. The main campaign is also paced perfectly, it ended before I got bored in perfect with the story pacing, whilst leaving me wanting more. Which is good considering the sheer volume of side activities available: collecting character minifigs from across the DC mythos, finding Arkham inmates across Gotham and locking them up and replaying the campaign in freeplay mode to 100% it.
I was tired of Lego video games before I played this. I own (and haven’t played) Lego Star Wars III: Clone Wars, Lego Marvel Superheroes and Lego Dimensions and now I cannot wait to play them. Hell, I’ve even been looking up Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham on Amazon with hopes to play it soon.
Side Note: I would have liked Batman in the iconic grey suit, not the black and yellow Tim Burton bullshit Batsuit. Ergh.