Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Release Date: September 23, 2008
It's been a pretty awesome last few years for Batman.
The mythos and universe of the Caped Crusader have undergone a resurgence of sorts in the game community, thanks in part to the outstanding movies that have helped reinforce the spirit of the character. It hasn't been a terrible past few years for Lego, either, whose brand has been reinvigorated by Traveller's Tales' past efforts with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.
Now we have Lego Batman, which looks poised to be (and it feels weird to write this) one of the greatest Lego-based games ever created. Honestly, if I didn't have actual work to do and if a station were open, I would have spent half of my appointment messing around with the build.
While the Star Wars and Indy games made heavy references to the movies upon which they were based, Lego Batman is shooting for all-new stuff. None of the content is heavily dictated by any of the movies — not the campy stuff with Adam West and Burt Ward, not the Tim Burton works, and certainly not the godawful Joel Schumacher ones. Traveller's Tales has looked more toward the Batman comics and graphic novels of the Dark Knight while still attempting to inject the oddball humor for which the Lego games are known. The comic influence is perhaps best represented in the backgrounds of the game. This is easily the richest Lego title in terms of visual detail, especially when you check out places like Arkham Asylum and Gotham City Cathedral. Even in settings designed to look like gloomy corners of Gotham, the colors still find a way to jump out.
One of Lego Batman's calling cards will be the sheer number of characters you're going to see and use in the game. Instead of simply plowing through as Batman and Robin, you also get to play as several villains in the Batman universe, such as the Joker and the Penguin.
The villains have their own missions, attacks (the Joker's got a joy buzzer) and special abilities. While one of Batman's missions will be to save Commissioner Gordon, players can also have the Joker and Harley Quinn attempt to kidnap him. Both heroes and villains even have their own "hub" levels — Arkham for the villains, the Batcave for the good guys. There's a host of other characters as well, including Alfred, Batgirl, the Mad Hatter and Catwoman.
Of course, it really wouldn't be Batman without the use of gadgets. Chief among them is the trusty Batarang, where the player can use a cursor to determine the weapon's flight path. It's a little like multiple missile lock, where you can target a handful of things the Batarang's going to hit before you throw it. Costume changes are also a significant part of the game, and not just for aesthetics, but for function. For instance, players can dress up in various "tech" suits, one of which had magnetic boots. Batman's also got some nifty vehicles at his disposal, most notably the classic Batmobile and not the tumbler from the latest films. In addition to the standard fighting levels, players are also getting several vehicle-based levels.
If you're familiar with any of the Lego games, you'll know that working together is a large part of the gameplay, whether it's finding ways across large gaps or opening a special gate. There's plenty of that in Lego Batman. I watched the Dynamic Duo activate a series of small bridges to traverse the Gotham skyline, while the Joker and Harley bounded around the city wreaking different kinds of havoc. Building things is another aspect of the title, as I watched Batman put together a small chopper out of blocks.
Capping everything off is the music, which might be the only thing carried over from the movies — it's the stuff from Danny Elfman, used in the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. If that doesn't get you at least a little excited about Lego Batman, I'm not sure what to tell you.
More articles about LEGO Batman