STAFF REVIEW of LEGO Batman the Videogame (Xbox 360)

Monday, October 6, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

LEGO Batman the Videogame Box art We've smashed LEGO's in the Star wars universe, and traverse the globe looking for artifacts and smashing LEGO's as Indiana Jones. Well, now it's time to visit the world of DC Comics. Traveller's Tales brings us the latest edition of the LEGO sage with Batman. You'll find everything you expect from the series in this game and a few new twists as well. There are plenty of unlockables including vehicles, characters, suit upgrades and secret areas.

You'll get to play as Batmam or any one of the heroes included in the game. You'll also get to play as anyone of the super villains as well, and we are talking more than just in Free Play mode. We'll get into that a little bit later in the review. The game mode options available to you are the campaign mode and free play mode. Campaign mode is made up of 6 story lines which consists of 5 levels in each. You are limited to only using the characters whom are assigned to that specific chapter, but you'll have access to some different suits when playing as Batman or Robin. Free Play mode allows you to go back and play each of those levels with multiple characters at your disposal which allows you to access areas not previously accessible using the story mode characters. You can play locally with up to one other person. Sorry no Xbox Live co-op which was something everyone expected to be in this game and sadly was not included.

Past LEGO games have been based upon movies and followed the movie storylines for the most part, but Batman does it a bit differently. The basic storyline is that Batman's most well known arch enemies break out of the Arkum Asylum and reign terror and havoc upon the city of Gotham. You'll play as Batman, and sidekick Robin, and capture the escaped villains. There are 3 parts to the Hero campaign mode with each story headlined by either the Joker, Riddler or Penguin. Those super villains will have a host of accomplices such as Poison Ivy, Scarecrow or Mr Freeze to help them in their quest for chaos and ultimate defeat of the Bat.

Now you'll notice that I mentioned the Hero side of the campaign. Yes, that does mean there is a villian side as well to the campaign. You'll get to play as all of the villains included in the game in their own storyline quests to rob and destroy the city of Gotham. To complete the game at 100% you'll have to play both campaigns. As with the Hero mode, you'll have items to collect and areas to unlock as well as earning plenty of LEGO studs to use in the store later.

The gameplay is pretty much the same as it has been in past LEGO games. You'll have to solve puzzles to advance into new areas. You'll also collect LEGO studs, mini kit parts and red LEGO blocks which gain you access to new things later in the game. Some areas and items are only accessible with certain characters unlocked throughout the game, so you'll have to go back and play Free Play mode once you've unlocked those characters.

There are several different costumes that allow your characters to perform multiple tasks they cannot do when dressed. For instance, Batman has a demolition costume that allows him to destroy shiny objects that cannot be destroyed with regular attacks. Robin has a magnetic costume that allows him to walk on vertical and sometimes inverted metallic surfaces/ Throughout each level there are stations that allow you to change a characters costume to perform a specific task at hand. You can change back to your previous costume by jumping through the holographic image at the changing station. In free play mode, you can change costumes by pressing the left or right bumper. Any costume that you have unlocked to this point will be available for your use.

There are some vehicle levels which resemble many of the vehicle levels from the Star Wars series. These levels tend to be a shoot'em up style of gameplay with torpedoes, mines pulled by a cable and plenty of barriers to destroy to advance to the next section of the level. As soon as I played one of these levels, whether it was in the Bat Car, Boat or Plane, I immediately thought of LEGO Star Wars. Whixh in my opinion is a good thing, but the levels can be a bit on the easy side and tend to have no real purpose other than just blowing lots of stuff up.

One thing I would like to mention is that Traveller's Tales created a very cool design for jumping between Hero and Villains sections of the game. When in between levels, you'll be hanging out in the Bat Cave where you can access new levels and the store. Located right beside the story is a lever that allows you to switch from the Bat Cave to the Arkum Asylum where you'll then become a pair of villains and have access to all the villain levels as well as the store. The store is where you can purchase characters, vehicles, suit upgrades and more. As you progress further in the game, you'll also gain access to some secret playing areas as you could in both Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Overall, the LEGO world shines through and shows that its a great world to make a video game. The Batman saga seems to fit right in with the fun and comical relief that the LEGO games provide and as always you'll find it extensively fun to run around and just smash up the City of Gotham into thousands of LEGO pieces. Graphically, the game is pretty good but there is something about Batman that just doe not seem right. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but something just doesn't seem write with his appearance. All the other characters seem to represent their real life counterparts, and honestly Batman is just fine the way he is. Its just something that bugs me, and as I stated, I can't figure out what it is.

As for the sound, you'll find your typical chimes, smashes and explosions as you would in any other LEGO game. As with all the previous games, you'll find the original musical scores from Batman movies. This is definitely a welcome addition to the game, and while the game itself does not follow any movie scripts, it still has a movie script feel to it.

If you enjoyed any of the previous versions of LEGO games, then you'll definitely want to pick up Batman. You'll find that its just as fun as the other games and somewhat more at times. I mean come on, its Batman. I can't wait to see what other Super Heroes are on tap for a LEGO game of their own. Maybe there is a Justice League of America on tap for our future!!! How cool would that be? So what are you waiting for, head on out and pick up the game now. You won't regret it.

Once again, a job well done with the recreation of a well known character brought into the world of LEGO. I'd love to see multiplayer co-op over Xbox Live though, and hope that this is soon included in every LEGO game that comes to the 360. Would also love to see a Justice League or a lot more super heroes brought in with their own games. One suggestion would be to really allow for some sort of auto colleciton system for studs because there are several times when I miss out on picking up studs due to the limited time they remain on screen.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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