Where Does He Get These Unbreakable Toys?
Today’s game comes as a surprise to even me. I have no idea why I like this game type, but I’ve always been a fan of them. The games are fairly obviously geared towards children, and they’ve also made somewhere in the range of 100 games on the same premise, but I still find them to generally be some goofy fun. But after having played 7,000 games based on the same cute idea, will I feel like I’ve been beaten over the head with them? Will I still enjoy it? And will I be able to follow the story when I missed the first game? We’ll find out as I review Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, written by Jon Burton and David A. Goodman, developed by Traveller’s Tales, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of Troy Baker, Charlie Schlatter, Clancy Brown, Christopher Corey Smith, Travis Willingham, Anna Vocino, Rob Paulsen, Nolan North, Kari Wahlgren, and Fred Tatasciore.
A “Man of the Year” competition in Gotham City is broken up by a group of villains – the Joker (Christopher Corey Smith), Harley Quinn (Laura Bailey), the Riddler (Rob Paulsen), Two-Face (Troy Baker), and the Penguin (Steven Blum). Batman and Robin (Charlie Schlatter) respond to the call. They take out the villains and send them back to Arkham Asylum. Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) then shows up and frees the Joker with a weapon called “The Deconstructor”, which tears apart objects and is powered by Kryptonite. Luthor and the Joker intend to get Luthor elected as President using the Joker’s laughing gas. With the help of the rest of the Justice League, Batman, Robin, and Superman (Travis Willingham) need to shut that shit right on down.
I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Lego games. Most of them are super easy to come up with since they’re mostly just movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Lord of the Rings, retold with Legos and goofiness. This game sets itself apart from the others in the story department, but not always in ways that I appreciate. I thought they did the story fairly well. It was a pretty basic and unsurprising story. It’s basically just Batman and Robin trying to stop the Joker. Then Lex Luthor comes along and Superman joins in. Then things get a little out of hand for them and the rest of the Justice League shows up at the end to clean things up. There’s also a fairly sizeable subplot about Batman’s feelings of inadequacy towards Superman. But I can’t say I expected anything else. It is aimed more at kids, after all. But it also had plenty enough cute little funny moments that I’ve come to expect from the Lego games to make it enjoyable. But along with their slightly more involved original story came something I had not seen in one of the Lego games before: talking. The other games were so good at telling a story and being cute and funny without the use of words, even when they were telling the more epic story of some classic movies like Star Wars. I don’t know if this is the first game where they used the spoken word, but I’d actually prefer them going back to the art of mime. It was cuter and funnier that way, and it’s a little strange to see Lego creatures speaking.
For the story changes that they’ve made, they were mostly unwilling to make any to the gameplay itself. Of course, I like the gameplay. It’s simple and unchallenging, but it’s still enjoyable. The bulk of the game is as simple as pressing X a lot to break things, and occasionally holding B to put things together. That’s how all of the Lego games work. They add a little bit of puzzle solving into the equation by making each character able to do different things, and in the case of this game they make Batman and Robin particularly versatile because they can do many different things by finding special suits, such as Batman’s Power Suit that allows him to shoot explosives, or Robin’s Acrobat Suit that allows him to swing from poles on the wall … and create a giant plastic ball for some reason. This creates a mild level of puzzle solving … at least until Superman joins your team. He exemplifies the reason I hate him: he does almost everything and is immortal. He doesn’t need a Hazard Suit filled with water to put out fire; he’ll just breathe on it. He doesn’t need an Ice Suit to freeze water; his breath will do that too. He can fly and reach places Batman and Robin can’t, and kind of eliminates the need to use the Acrobat Suit to reach those same heights. And what’s more is he can’t be damaged, so the ease of the game up to that point is increased because I can put my controller down and come back later and still not have taken any damage from the hordes of enemies around me. And this pretty much forces me to play as him because I can’t wrap my brain around not playing the immortal character that does everything that’s readily available to me. Once you finish the game and unlock the other characters, the need for Batman and Robin is almost erased entirely, which is weird because this is supposed to be Batman’s game. You don’t need the Bat Suit to break glass because you have Man Bat and Black Canary, you don’t need the Power Suit because the Penguin has explosives, you barely need the Hazard Suit because Aquaman can clean up toxic waste with his water blasts, and you don’t need the Ice Suit with Mr. Freeze around. Why bother finding a suit when I can just hold Y and switch to the character immediately? There were also things in the game that would bother a comic book nerd like myself. First of all is a complaint that some comic nerds got from the first Tim Burton Batman movie: Batman doesn’t use guns! You can’t just throw guns on the Batmobile and the Batwing all willy nilly like! I know that the enemies were just technically breaking up into Lego pieces because this is a kid’s game, but that’s the equivalent of killing in this game, and Batman doesn’t do that either. I was also confused by the fact that Wonder Woman could fly. As far as I knew, Wonder Woman’s version of flight is having a stupid invisible jet plane, and they even put that plane into the game as an unlockable vehicle. Turns out (after some Wikipedia research) they did make Wonder Woman able to fly, but it still stuck out for me as not right. Also, what’s the point with the stupid combo things? Beating enemies in quick succession made multipliers show up on the screen, but they didn’t do anything so I didn’t see the point. All it let you do is a finishing move of sorts that got you an achievement, but besides that it seemed to have no point.
Speaking of achievements and things that have no real point, one of my favorite things about the majority of the Lego games is how easy the achievements are to get. The greater majority of the games that I’ve completed 100% are Lego games, and this one keeps with the same tradition. I was able to get all of the achievements for the game in about 2 days. It’s basically just beating the game and unlocking all of the characters. The only thing that may keep people from going for them is the fact that you have to collect 250 gold bricks in the game, but even that doesn’t take very long. It just requires the patience to collect them.
The look and sound of the game were as good as a Lego game can muster. Around the time of the Pirates of the Caribbean games, they started putting their silly-looking Lego characters into landscapes that were actually very pretty as opposed to Lego backdrops that weren’t that visually compelling. They keep that up here. I also kind of liked the voice acting in the game (even though I didn’t like that there WAS voice acting in the game) because the voices were either of the people that typically voice the characters in the cartoons or they sounded a lot like them. I actually thought the guy doing the Joker’s voice was Mark Hamill for a while, although that thought kind of broke down as time went on. The person that did Harley Quinn’s voice didn’t do a very good job representing that voice, which makes me sad because I really like Harley’s voice. Also, the guy that does the Riddler’s voice? His name is Robert Paulsen. …Or at least Rob Paulsen. Does anyone else get that joke? The music was also nice in the game, particularly when you were flying around the city as that douche nozzle Superman because they used the famous music John Williams made for the movies, and that’s just a kick ass orchestration.
I think that about covers it. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes doesn’t break any new ground, but I still find myself charmed by the series. The story is basic, and it bummed me out that they actually made the characters speak, but it’s still cute and amusing and the gameplay, though very easy, always manages to keep me interested. Plus, it’s super easy achievements, and I’m always on board for that. If you’ve liked the Lego games in the past, or you have kids that you want to play some games that you might enjoy yourself when they’re not playing, or you just want some easy achievements, then Lego Batman 2 gets my seal of approval. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes gets “I can see you smirking in there. X-ray vision” out of “I’d have to be crazy to say no to that offer. Unless you’re just one of the voices in my head. In which case, I’m crazy anyway!”
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