If there is one word that might be used to describe the LEGO video game franchise, that word is "stale". The series has been around for seven years, longer than the current console generation, and what was new and innovative at that time has become a bit tired in the years leading up to now. While the core gameplay, and the resultant problems with it, have remained largely unchanged since the beginning, the developers wisely used a different twist with each successive LEGO property. Two examples would be the potions of Harry Potter, or the RTS elements of LEGO Clone Wars. These additions kept things interesting, but the core experience and all its quirks were still largely the same.
LEGO Batman 2 is the largest departure from form for the LEGO series yet. The sloppy platforming elements have been reduced dramatically, and the puzzles are far more interesting and user-friendly. Voice acting has replaced the funny but limiting nonsensical grunts and gestures, making the story far more enjoyable. The hub world has been made obsolete due to the inclusion of a large, gorgeously realized Gotham City, giving the game a fantastic open-world feel. All of these things combine to make LEGO Batman 2 the best LEGO game to date, but a few maddening problems keep it from being a masterpiece.
Long time fans of the LEGO series shouldn't fret; the game still features everything you love, from smashing bricks to accumulate studs, to a high level of replayability beyond the story mode as you attempt to unlock new goodies. LEGO Batman 2 still feels like a LEGO game, through and through. There has been a shift, though, in the game's content, with fewer and shorter sections of punching LEGO enemies into bits, and far fewer platforming sections. This latter change is certainly welcome, but I did miss the mindless but satisfying fighting against waves of minions.
Coinciding with the reduced emphasis on bashing and jumping is a much larger focus on puzzles. The new suits for Batman and Robin give them plenty of options for overcoming whatever obstacles are ahead of them. Batman's electricity suit, for example, gives him the ability to absorb a charge of lightning, allowing safe passage, and then he can use that charge to power up a nearby device, unlocking a new area. Robin's hazard suit works in similar fashion, allowing the Boy Wonder to vacuum up radioactive goo to clear a path and then spray the gunk where it is needed. All of the puzzles seem to flow together much more naturally, as well; there are few areas where you will be stumped for very long.