Forget the critical accolades, fan worship and commercial success — if you have a Lego game made after your franchise, you can officially call it a cultural icon. It happened with Star Wars, it happened with Indiana Jones — and now it’s happening with Batman.
Lego Batman, developed by Traveller’s Tales, deftly feeds off the momentum created by the recent Christopher Nolan films while paying cute, comical homage to the entire mythos surrounding the Caped Crusader. What you get is a romp fit for Batman fans of all degrees.
While the Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones games were essentially goofy-but-faithful remakes of the movies, the story of Lego Batman is entirely original. All of the inmates of Arkham Asylum — Joker, Poison Ivy, Two-Face, Scarecrow — have managed to escape, and it’s up to Batman and Robin to round them all up.
The highlight of any Lego game is the simple, user-friendly gameplay, and that still hasn’t changed. Batman and Robin use their supreme hand-to-hand fighting skills to bash their enemies into scattered pieces most of the time, but players also get to use Batarangs and grappling hooks to traverse the multitude of creative obstacles they come across.
The Batarang mechanic is especially cool, functioning a little like a Robotech missile-lock system, where you can “trace” the path of the Batarang to strike multiple targets. You can also “build” a variety of funny items like ice cream trucks, balloon cannons and mini-areas where you can change costume.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the game is the gadgetry, where our heroes can don different “tech suits” equipped with different abilities. For instance, Robin can wear a suit which lets him walk on walls, while Bats can get a suit which lets him set bombs, or a “sonic” suit which lets him shatter glass.
Of course, you’re also get command of the various Batman vehicles, such as the Batmobile (the one from the Tim Burton movies, not the tumbler), which comes equipped with machine guns and a tow cable.
Another cool twist in the game is the ability to play as villains, complete with their own missions of treachery. While one of Batman’s missions might be to protect Commissioner Gordon, the mission for the Joker and Harley Quinn would be to kidnap him. Each of the villains has their own unique attacks, like the Joker’s joy buzzer of death.
Other parts of the Batman universe that are in the game are the Batcave, which serves as your mission hub level, and Arkham Asylum, which serves as the hub level for the villains.
The only small gripes I have with this game deal with rare spells of tediousness, where I feel live I’ve been doing nothing but bashing enemies for hours. You’ll also get the occasional moment where you’re not quite sure where to go or what to do with a puzzle. You never really “die” in the game, which is good, considering there’s a lot of platforming here.
Other than being the best-looking Lego game out there, Lego Batman might be also the most complete. There’s more than enough action and subtle comedy to be enjoyed by multiple players, and it should be more than enough to satisfy even the darkest of the Dark Knight’s followers.