Gamers have gotten pretty used to annual installments of major series, such as Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and your usual slate of sports titles. While each of these franchises and their succeeding entries tend to dip in quality at times, the line of LEGO puzzle platformers have stayed solid throughout their tenure. Developer Traveller’s Tales let us become the Dark Knight once before and take on the moniker of hundreds of heroes and villains in Gotham City. Now they have decided to send gamers young and old into the far reaches of the universe with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
LEGO Batman 3 focuses on the evil trinket collecting habits of Superman nemesis, Braniac. Braniac summons the Lantern Corps, captures them and their rings, looking to use them to shrink Earth and add it to his collection. Naturally, this universe spanning plan attracts the attention of DC’s varied gallery of memorable do-gooders and lovable baddies. The most hardcore and even vaguely familiar fan of DC Comics’ will get a kick out of the game’s plot and character interactions. The light-hearted humor present in LEGO’s games is here, of course. You’ll enjoy your time watching everyone interact (Batman and Superman’s differing personalities always leads to hilarious results) and the plot gets better over time.
The attention to detail sported here is amazing. Old school Batman fans will drop tears of sweet nostalgia once they’re greeted by the ’90s Batman cartoon theme (Supes fans will feel he love to when they hear the late ’70s movie theme). Each hub world and level contains layouts that are loyal to their source material. The game’s major hub world’s (The Batcave, Justice League Watchtower and Hall of Justice) all look great and give diehard DC fans something special. Young fans will enjoy getting introduced to the game’s hundreds of DC familiars and lesser known faces, while veteran DC heads will enjoy the nods and Easter eggs.
LEGO Batman 3 moves away from the open-world structure of the 2nd game this time around. Similar to LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, you’ll run through focused levels with several selectable characters as you collect LEGO’s and solve puzzles. The gameplay here is solid and enjoyable as usual, but it’s not exactly much different from the other LEGO games out there. You’ll enter a stage, break everything in sight, switch between characters for varying puzzle situations and fight off easy baddies. Rinse, lather, repeat. There are times when the gameplay throws little wrinkles into the formula. The Resogun-esque space shooter, additional suits for characters and always entertaining boss fights should keep you from growing tired of the somewhat stale formula. You’re continued involvement with this game depends on how strong your DC Comics fandom is.
Even though the game itself doesn’t stray too far away from the Traveller’s Tales LEGO formula, you’ll still be enamored with the charm seen in every aspect of LEGO Batman 3. You’ll always have a smile on your face as you hear heroes spout one-liners, you’ll marvel at the many variations of Batman available for play and you’ll get a kick out of engaging in co-op Free Play mode with weird character combinations. Heading into a level looking for extra items as you and a partner utilize the powers of Bat-Mite and Red Tornado is a moment that can only be experienced in this game.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is a love letter the DC Comics universe that fans will fall in love with. The nostalgic nods to past iterations of heroes and villains, great visuals/audio and game changing elements will suck you in and never let go. The feeling of sameness and been there, done that with the level structure can’t be ignored, though. However, this game’s undeniable charm manages to keep you entertained for hours on end.
Images: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Traveller’s Tales, DC