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Posted by moonhead on Jul 13, 2012
Review: Lego Batman 2 DC Super Heroes / PS Vita

Review: Lego Batman 2 DC Super Heroes / PS Vita

Is it a Dark Knight for the Lego series or a new dawn?

The Travellers Tales Lego games seem like they have been around for ages now and all have been of a similar style and quality. The main problem with the titles is that sometimes the subject (i.e the license) does not connect so well with the ethos behind the little studded bricks. Star Wars and Lego is a marriage made in heaven, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones not so much. Meanwhile the first Batman game suited the Lego ethos but was not so well received critically and while there were no downright terrible reviews, there were accusations that the game series was starting to get stale. The reviews did not stop it selling well and it became the best-selling of all the Lego games in the series so far. Travellers  Tales have made changes to the template on the home console versions with a more open world structure but on the PS Vita it is a much more by the numbers Lego game and it suffers slightly for it.

Despite being based on the Batman franchise it does not take its cue from any current films or comics on the market, so the game’s story is original piece. Plus it has the added benefit of the full DC comics license, meaning the game is able to take a few liberties with the DC universe and its characters, throwing in some that would not normally be in Batman. However, it is a Lego game so the story was never going to challenge Christopher Nolan’s amazing Batman trilogy of films but more than fits its purpose (I know that the Dark Knight Rises isn’t quite with us but come on, it looks amazing). The game opens with Batman’s alter ego Bruce Wayne at Gotham City Hall to receive his man of the year award much to the disgust of Superman’s arch nemesis and presidential hopeful Lex Luthor. The event is rudely interrupted by the Joker who teams up with Lex Luthor to bring down both the “Dynamic Duo and The Man of Steel”. This in turn leads to Batman & Robin and Superman plus various other heroes from the DC universe to put a stop to their dastardly deeds.

The biggest change to the Lego template is in how the story’s told. Lego Batman 2 has joined the ‘talkies’. Yes, instead of the usual nudges, winks and mumbles the characters now speak and what could have been an absolute disaster is an absolute triumph. The voice acting and script are absolutely top-notch and none of the comedy that the series is known for is lost, in fact it’s better than ever. The best example of the dialogue showing its comic flare is the relationship between the ‘Dynamic Duo’ and ‘Superman; which produces several laugh out loud moments. Especially when Robin is completely star struck by the Man Of Steel whilst the Dark Knight is completely underwhelmed by him.

The gameplay itself is the same mix of 2d platforming and basic puzzle solving it always has been, with collecting studs and other unlockable’s like mini kits the priority. As in the first game, Batman and Robin have various suits they need to change into to reach previously unattainable areas. About midway through the story modes you get to control the Man of Steel, Superman himself! And its a revelation. All of Superman’s abilities are there from Super strength to his Laser eyes and cooling super breath. In fact it’s the best Superman rendition there has been in a video game. The other DC characters are not seen until the last story chapter but are then usable as part of  team of five in the ‘freeplay’ mode.

Like all the other Lego games before it once you have completed any of the 14 levels in story mode you can replay them in ‘freeplay’ to get any unlockable’s missed the first time round by using characters who have different abilities or superpowers to reach areas of the level previously unreachable. Being on a handheld device there is no same screen 2-player co-op unless you play it over an ad-hoc connection with another person owning a PS Vita and a copy of the game in the same room as you are (which is not very likely). So online co-op would have been a major boon here as the 2 player co-op is integral to half  of the enjoyment and fun of the Lego titles, but yet again its a feature missed. In fact if you compare its paucity of modes on the handheld to the new features on the home console versions (mind you the online co-op is still missing there too) it all starts to feel more-than-a-little disappointing. The only other mode mentioned are the unlockable ‘Justice League’ levels which are attack wave based, fighting wave after wave of enemies. These are frankly ridiculous because combat has never been anything more than button bashing in Lego games and it is the same here. Add in the fact that some of the enemies need you to use long-range attacks to kill them and these levels turn into a hugely frustrating experience.

There is one other little niggle about the game I have to mention and its the fuzzy video cut scenes. The PS Vita’s stunning 5.5″ OLED screen is a thing of beauty but the cut scene videos look absolutely ghastly on it, I am sure its something to do with cramming them onto the game card but they are shockingly horrible to look at. Their rough look is all the more startling by the pin sharp beauty of the in-game graphics which more than hold their own against the home console versions.

In all Lego Batman 2 is exactly what you would have expected. It’s cute, full of charm, humour and its entertaining enough. But because the home console versions of the game have rung the changes adding features and expanding on the gameplay the PSV version feels very stale. I cannot say I did not enjoy playing it because I did but it just feels like every other Lego game that has come before it. In some ways this is no bad thing but the handheld versions of the game need the new bells and whistles given to the home console versions to keep the series feeling fresh.

 

 

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