The Dark Knight gets cast in virtual plastic.
Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
July 18th 2008
Lego Batman is lovely. You wouldn't expect it from a game geared primarily towards kids, or even after the previous games in the series. While more than serviceable, the backgrounds in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles weren't the highlights of the experience. Here Gotham is wet and dismal, with shimmering asphalt and rising steam. The characters are cute and similar to previous entries in this meta-franchise, but great care has been given to animate these figures more fluidly than they have any right to be. They smash and chuckle with grace undeserving of molded pieces of plastic. While it won't be winning any graphicsl awards compared to Mirror's Edge and Resident Evil 5, it's still easy on the eyes.
If you're a Batman fan, there's a lot here for you. Traveler's Tales has been freed from following along well-known films, where the only surprises were the developers' own quirky twists to classic moments. The quirkiness is still well present with their mimed cut-scenes, but the story this time is completely original. You also get both sides to the story, switching between the costumes of the daring heroes and the spiked shoes of the dastardly villains. A lot of both will be present and playable; the company promises all the favorite characters and more than a few surprises. To expand on that even further, each character has a number of suits they can don during the game, granting them special powers, like gliding capes and magnetic shoes, to overcome obstacles in both story and free play mode. This makes it even more fun to work as a team in co-op, helping one another to pass and smash through each of the game's stages.
The gameplay is essentially unchanged from previous entries. You beat up thugs and smash the surroundings to collect studs and hidden secrets, along with solving small puzzles to reach the end of level bosses. Death is nearly meaningless, but for a game series that kids can play with their parents, to the glee of both parties, that's not such a bad thing.