Monday 24 November 2014

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Between bouts of playing games to review them, I always still take the time to play other games. Recently I finished Lego The Lord of the Rings, the Lego adaptation of The Lord of the Rings film series. It pretty much perfectly follows the events of the films outside of all the dark content, and even reuses the dialogue from the film during its cut-scenes. From controlling Frodo and Sam in The Shire, the fellowship with the Balrog hot on their trail to the final moments at Mount Doom, it was a great game. But outside of all the voices, music and visuals that were taken from The Lord of the Rings, it struck me that at its heart the gameplay was nearly identical to Lego Star Wars. So when this latest Lego game was up for review, I started playing it well aware of how similar it might be to the past Lego titles. However, does this latest offering dish out anything new? Not really, but if you've stuck with Lego games up until now, that probably won't come as a surprise to you.

Developed by Traveller's Tales and out now for pretty much every platform made within the past decade comes Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, a game that is pretty much the typical Lego game but with the Justice League in it. Lego Batman 3 takes the story focus out of Gotham City and into space. After luring various Lanterns into the same place, villain Braniac outnumbers them and takes their Lantern Rings, the immense source of power for the Lanterns. Planning to collectively use these rings for usual villian-like evil deeds, Batman and Robin use their aptly named Bat-Rocket to venture into space in order to stop him. However, it'll take more than Batman and the Boy Wonder to stop Braniac, but thankfully the Justice League are at hand to help save the day. The story is fun, simple and exactly what you'd expect from a Lego game. 

Though my experience with Lego games goes no further than Lego The Lord of the Rings and Lego Star Wars, I can safely say that Lego Batman 3 plays exactly like every other Lego game you've played so far. Essentially Lego games are built upon the two most important elements of playing Lego in real life- building and breaking. The games are no different. You'll venture through various levels on Earth, out in space and on other worlds, solving puzzles, beating up bad guys, all the while smashing Lego pieces into oblivion, while sometimes also rebuilding them into new structures. Whether you're wrecking a wall that you'll rebuilding into a staircase or an enemy structure that you'll reform into a ladder, the game puts a focus on the fact that you're living in a Lego world. It's all very simple stuff, but that doesn't mean it's not fun. Though combat is based purely on button bashing, running around and wrecking Lego enemies and structures is pretty fun stuff, and that's mainly due to the massive array of characters and abilities at your disposal.

Though Batman may be the titular character, Lego Batman 3 allows you to use over 150 characters, which includes both heroes and villains. From Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman to the Joker, Bane and Mr. Freeze, the cast here is quite massive, and even includes some cameos from the likes of Adam West, Conan O'Brien and Kevin Smith. Of course, each character has their very own unique abilities too, which includes the Green Lanterns ability to create and levitate objects, Superman's heat vision and Martian Manhunter's alternate powerful creature form. This is what ultimately kept me coming back for more, the huge array of characters that are often incredibly different from each other. It keeps things feeling pretty fresh, even after you've completed the main quest.

Visually Lego Batman 3 is lovely. It's space setting has given Traveller's Tales a chance to tinker around with quite an interesting and bombastic colour palette, and this shines through in every mission. This also extends to the missions and situations you'll find yourself in, as in terms of scale they're more in line with The Lego Movie than any Lego game we've seen so far. At the end of the day Lego Batman 3 is indeed more of the same, but there's such a wonderful charm to the story, setting and characters that you'll find yourself completely hooked. If you're the kind of gamer who wants to explore every nook and cranny, get every achievement and find every hidden item, you'll have your work cut out for you here.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham doesn't go beyond expectations, but it's still a great. 4/5
Denis Murphy

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