The LEGO series is truly a marvel of product placement. Basically, it’s about various popular franchises that LEGO has seen fit to make toys based on. These toys are used as the people, objects and miscellaneous things in the games. They might as well do load screens with advertisements for more lego crap while they’re at it.
Yet I can’t be too hard on this game. Why? Because I like it. Really. It’s a lot of fun to play even though it’s very easy to blast through. Lego Star Wars is the only other game in the series I’ve played and to be honest, I’m not sure how much of the improvements I mention occurred in previous games. I do know that the city and control of the vehicles make for great improvement by comparison.
Plot: 6 out of 10
The basic storyline is in two parts:
1.) After the Joker is captured early on, Lex Luthor stages an attack on Arkham Asylum that enables all of its inmates to break free and run amok. Obviously, Batman and Robin have to get all the psychos back behind bars or in their case, a windowed door.
2.) Lex Luthor is running for President with the Joker’s help. The Arkham breakout is intended both as a distraction and to break out the Joker. They use machinery to brainwash the populace into voting Luthor into office and kill Batman and Robin. This will also get Superman, Luthor’s usual opposite number, into Gotham for awhile. Robin is happy to have Superman’s help, but the predictably distrustful Batman is resistant.
OK, so it’s not the best plot. But the dialogue does help redeem it, particularly on character interactions. Supes is used well in this crossover game. I can’t say the same about Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, and the Cyborg answering a call to arms at the end. They seem rushed in for appearance’s sake.
Graphics: 7 out of 10
It looks pretty good for the Wii. Not really, for the other non-handheld systems it’s on. But it does capture the Batman, DC Comics and LEGO feel. As noted, the graphics are modeled after LEGOs. I guess they pull it off.
Sound: 9 out of 10
I struggle a little on the music. Much of it is basically composer Danny Elfman’s scores from the movies Batman and Batman Returns. Lego Star Wars made similar use of the music from its own respective source material. It’s easy to call this a sneaky way out. Then again, those songs are so good that I didn’t mind listening to them again. The music this game can call its own isn’t half-bad either.
The voice acting is pretty solid. Everybody sounds like the character they are playing. Especially Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor. I remember watching Superman: the Animated Series well. It’s great to see Clancy playing the character again although I doubt he’d say the same. He probably wishes he’d have gone beyond voice-overs by now. Tough break.
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
This game has a bird’s eye perspective. you have up to six characters in each level that you can alternate between. Who they are varies except that Batman is the only one who’s a character in each level. You go through the levels fighting criminals and solving puzzles.
Batman and Robin fight with punch-kick combos, throw Batarangs, and use grappling guns to swing from ledge to ledge. Objects known as studs can be collected. At the end of every level, you’re given a chance at a Super Hero rating. Getting that rating requires a certain amount of studs. Batman and Robin can also get additional abilities by obtaining special suits, such as Batman’s Electric Suit and Robin’s Ice Suit.
In between levels, you’re in Gotham City. You can use the Batcomputer (and Alfred’s voice) to find your next mission. Or you can search Gotham for studs and other stuff used to keep score. This is definitely one of those games in which you don’t actually have to stick to the goals. In fact, a search will reveal battles with villains not a direct part of the story but will enable you to purchase with studs so as to add to your list of characters available for levels you’ve already completed. You navigate Gotham by car/bike, aircraft, or boat.
Other characters, those with superpowers, are available in a number of levels. They have the following powers:
Superman: eyebeams, freezing breath, flight, invulnerability, regeneration, use of superstrength triggers.
Wonder Woman: punches and kicks as refined as B&R’s, flight, regeneration, invulnerability*, use of superstrength triggers.
Green Lantern: flight, use of objects made of the same energy as his power ring.
Flash: fast movement. Much too fast for enemies to keep up.
Cyborg: eyebeams, use of superstrength triggers.
All in all, a very fun game. I do recommend that you be ready to do some sidequests, though. It’s more fun.
*In comic book geek circles, there’s a bit of debate on how tough she is. Does she block bullets with her indestructible bracelets because she has to, or is it just her Amazon training kicking in and that she’s really bulletproof? I always figured that she wouldn’t block if she didn’t have to. Clearly, the programmers disagree.
Challenge: 4 out of 10
This game isn’t hard to beat at all. You have unlimited lives. This may seem like a deal-breaker but this series is still reasonably challenging because you lose a lot of studs every time you die, hurting your chances of achieving the Super Hero rating. Besides, the puzzles can keep you busy. Also, it’s fun to find the hidden stuff.
There is, however one giant problem. You’re able to use Superman or Wonder Woman in nearly half the levels. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said they were invulnerable. Lemme break it down. If you’re using one of them, YOU CAN’T BE HURT! In theory, you can still fall into a pit. But are your really going to forget to fly? What are you, a character from the Super Friends?
Superman does attack slower and more clumsily than B&R, obviously because he’s not as good a hand-to-hand combatant. Maybe they thought this a fair drawback. Also, he’s beset by the occasional kryptonite. But Superman automatically heals lost energy, so it doesn’t matter that they sometimes force you to not use Supes; you can just switch back and wait until you heal. And in the last level in which you get Wonder Woman, she doesn’t have even these pitiful limitations.
Overall: 7 out of 10
Nevertheless, I find this to be quite a fun game. Just don’t be surprised if using Superman, Wonder Woman, and anyone else with invulnerability hurts your experience.