Thursday, 12 July 2012

Review: LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (360)

Nearly every LEGO game released builds on previous LEGO titles and righting wrongs and adding bricks where necessary to create an even better experience than the one before it. On the surface, that's exactly what happened with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.

The production values -- graphics, music, sound effects -- are excellent to be sure and the addition of spoken dialogue allows a better story to be told, but there's something missing here. This isn't kid friendly in the least or even friendly for adults for that matter. The huge open space of Gotham City is essentially a "hub" to access the story missions, but it's a level unto itself with gold bricks to find, vehicles to locate (and buy) and generally muck around.

That's the game's biggest problem.

The wide open hub world can be a bitch to navigate.

There's a woefully inadequate map that provides some loose information for older players. Here's Ra's al Ghul's head on the map, now go find him! Then to get to that spot and have no idea how to actually start the mission.... It's certainly frustrating and not just because I can't unload my best invective due to the proximity of "little ears."

But wait.

What are these ghosted LEGO studs in a long line down the street? I jumped online to check it out because the manual says nothing about them and if there were instructions on how to follow these dots during the course of the game from story mission to story mission, I missed it. And so did my kids (12, 10, 8, and 3).

Suddenly my opinion of LEGO Batman 2 improved, while my opinion of game manuals as utterly worthless was confirmed. I shouldn't have to explore the Internet for something like this; something so basic a couple of lines in the manual about the map and how to get from point A to point B would have been a simple matter. As it was, I spent hours running around in-game wondering where the hell I was supposed to be going or how I was supposed to get there.

Traveller's Tales has done a good job of fitting together multi-part, leap-frog puzzles to break up the tedium of punching LEGO men to pieces. Sometimes the solutions aren't always so obvious, but most times it comes down to simply executing the steps properly by building a grapple point, scaling a wall that only the Magnet Suit can climb then opening  a door so Batman can bomb a wall with the Power Suit. Still, the puzzles are accessible to the young and, with a little coaching, the very young. It induces lots of high-fives, too.

I would have torn LEGO Batman 2 a new navel had I not found the proper way to easily move from mission to mission. I The hub is too big and I don't think the navigation is properly explained. How about a fast travel option next time? Or much more obvious arrows point players in the right direction? Considering the age group the game is aimed at, this seems like a no-brainer for the next instalment.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- Leap-frogging co-op puzzles
- Voiced storyline works much better than silent pantomime
- Best looking LEGO game to date
- Another giant roster of playable characters: villains and heroes.

The Bad:
- Poor navigation features in the sprawling hub world
- DC Super Heroes might be a little overplayed as they don't really show up properly until later
- A manual save slot is woefully missing

Score: 8.0 / 10