I have to be upfront with you as I begin this review; I'm not a total LEGO video game maniac. We owned the first LEGO Star Wars games forGamecube , but I didn't get to play them too much. This summer, we rented LEGO Indy, played through it with my youngest kid in a couple weeks, and had a nice time doing it. So, most of my comparisons for the review will be against Indy, and not Star Wars, due to my inexperience with a LEGO galaxy far, far away.
LEGO Batman corrects one of my biggest beefs with LEGO Indy. The difference in coolness level between Indy and pretty much all the other characters in that game is huge. Batman and Robin, though not equals, are a far more enjoyable matchup, especially when your co-op partner refuses to share the cool characters. (Yes, I'm bitter at having to be Sallah over and over again.)
Batman and Robin have several specialized suits to wear, each giving them different abilities. Among Batman's arsenal are a gliding suit, and a demolition suit, which allows him to place and detonate explosives (it's always fun to accidentally blow up your partner, of course). The Boy Wonder has a magnet suit, allowing him to walk up certain walls, and my personal favorite, the tech suit, which allows Robin to use remote control vehicles and even a robot! You can direct these vehicles to push buttons, step on platforms, etc. I found the suits to be very well done, adding lots of variety to playing the game as both Caped Crusaders.
Enjoyable as the hero campaign is, playing as the villains is better in some ways, due to the huge variety of playable characters. Of course, each of them, in addition to being totally adorable, have special powers and abilities. The Riddler can mind control opponents, and force them to open doors, activate levers, etc. Clayface is a real powerhouse, able to smash walls, and lift heavy objects with his super strength. Catwoman and Harley Quinn, like the female characters from LEGO Indy, can jump extra high. Man-bat and Killer Moth fly! As a fan of Batman's rogue's gallery, being able to play through the game as villains is a nice plus, though some may wish for a longer heroic campaign instead.
Apart from the cute little people, the LEGO creations you can operate in this game are quite impressive. When I see all the LEGO building sets at the toy store, I'm always a bit amazed. Being able to use vehicles that look just like those in the real sets is a real treat, and a good way to break up the "on foot" action. As you might expect, the Batmobile makes an appearance, as does the Batwing and a really hip helicopter for Robin to fly around in. The Batwing can pick up and shoot torpedoes, while Robin's copter has a grappling hook that can pick up mines. Of course, they shoot little LEGO bits like a machine gun, too. The fight at the end of this level, taking down the Scarecrow and his wooden biplane, was one of the best co-operative moments you'll find in any game. I won't spoil it for you, but it's definitely something to look forward to!
As you would expect, the co-op elements in LEGO Batman are very strong, just like the previous LEGO titles. The game was clearly designed around working together, with many puzzles, boss battles, and other elements that would be irritating for a single player swapping character, but are bread and butter to co-op fans. Terrific though the co-op may be, it still suffers from the fact that it's just a two player experience. I would be ecstatic if I could play LEGO Batman with both of my kids at the same time, but instead we're tagging in and out all the time. Adding in a third or fourth player for co-op is a no-brainer, and to be quite honest, if this feature isn't added into future LEGO games, I think the fans will stop buying them. Adding additional brands the the LEGO line is fine, but the game's core experience needs to get better, too. Also, ONLINE CO-OP. Why remove features that were present in earlier LEGO titles?
If you are a fan of the music from the 1989 Batman movie, you are in for a real treat. I personally consider the score from that movie one of the finest ever. LEGO Batman continues the trend of awesome music from the movies established by its predecessors. It's not often I pay much attention to game music, but in this case, it really adds to the experience.
The game's length is a bit of a concern to me. Though we've not completed the villain campaign yet, the hero campaign didn't take us very long, at all. I realize most of the value from the LEGO games in is the freeplay . Still, it seems quite short, indeed. If you aren't a fan of the villains, you'll be even more disappointed with the game's length. However, the game is enjoyable, and there are many reasons to keep playing once story mode is completed. Adding a bit more excitement to the game (for parents, at least) is the fact that McDonald's has LEGO Batman Happy Meals. The toys in these meals feature codes that unlock characters and vehicles in the game. A minor point, to be sure, but my seven year old thought it was awesome, and even I have to admire the brilliant marketing.
The Co-Op Experience: Like the Star Wars LEGO games, Lego Batman lets you take control of the caped crusader - along with his sidekick Robin and many other Batman characters. 2 Player co-op similar to the previous games.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.