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Saturday | December 10, 2016
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LEGO: Batman The Videogame (PC)

LEGO: Batman The Videogame (PC)

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Batman is developer Traveller’s Tales fifth outing in the LEGO series and the previous games in this genre have proven to be successful. LEGO Batman is different however in that it is the first not to be based on a movie or even a comic book. As it is an original story this game can follow its own path making the scope almost limitless.

Although this sounds exciting at the end of the day the scripting is a little disappointing as it basically revolves around a bunch of bad guys escaping Arkham Asylum with Batman having to hunt them down. It really is that straightforward and will probably suit the audience because the Lego games are a simple mixture of escapism and retro yet addictive gameplay.

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All of the charm of the previous games is still here and the title is once again laced with humour. The sound is similar to past offerings and the soundtrack is lifted from the famous 1989 Batman film, courtesy of the legendary Danny Elfman. Some complaints have surfaced already that the audio should have been more diverse, but I personally rate Elfman’s score as the definitive modernday soundtrack.

LEGO Batman has virtually every well known enemy of Batman in the mix across the six campaigns. In the first three you take control of Batman and Robin and various suits can be used on each character to give them special abilities. For example Batman has a demolition suit so he can destroy objects and Robin can walk up metal objects or walls with his magnetic outfit. They keep the first three stages interesting and relatively diverse.

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In the latter half of the game you switch sides and take control of the bad guys. You see the alternative sides of each of the previous acts and become acquainted with how each member of the villians puts his dastardly plan into motion. The difference is these stages all end before you meet up with Batman and Robin to preserve the fact that the bad guys can’t win.

Every one of the villians has different special powers such as The Joker who can shock anyone he comes into contact with. Mr Freeze obviously can freeze his enemies and The Riddler takes control of civilians and puts them under his spell. So while the game isn’t using storylines from the movies or comics it remains true to the Batman mythodology.

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On top of all this there are unlockable characters (villians and heroes) who can be used when replaying levels in Free mode. Batgirl, Nightwing and Manbat are a few on offer and it adds to the long term longevity especially as certain items can only be reached by these new characters on the replays.

As usual most of the fun comes from destroying the lego environment and mashing the enemies into lego blocks there are some differences, for example every level generally has a vehicle available, sometimes they might be a car, or a bike, or even a plane. This adds more variety to the overall experience and while they aren’t awesome to control, it gives a little more value for money.

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So far all my comments have been positive but unfortunately all the old issues I mentioned in previous reviews rear their ugly head yet again. The AI for example is still appalling, and your AI controlled partner is as dumb as a box of bricks. This is compounded by the fact that a lot of the puzzles require your partner to lend a helping hand and sometimes he is about as useful as sticking your hand in a blender. You might be trying to get your partner to stand on a ledge that needs raised and you pull the switch to have him jump off and follow you around. Sometimes you have to be standing in exactly the right spot for the AI to realise what it is supposed to do for the particular section.

The level design while fun is rather confusing and quite often the puzzle solving is difficult. This isn’t because the puzzles are clever and require you to work out the complexity, but rather the solutions often end up guesswork you miraculously uncover after 20 minutes of swearing at the screen and clicking on everything you see. You rarely feel smug in the knowledge you outsmarted a game developer, but will be more surprised the solution was actually the solution.

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Multiplayer is lacking and ludicrously Travellers Tales have omitted online cooperative which is clearly a bad decision, especially as it was included in previous titles. You can play co-op, but only with a friend sitting beside you on the same machine either with a controller or on the other half of the keyboard.

LEGO Batman is a game which will find its way into many a home, especially as it is now available on STEAM for download, it does cost $40 however which is not bargain basement. The formula is proven and popular but I can’t help but get the feeling that the genre needs a fresh and inventive overhaul to keep it going over the forthcoming years. Certainly if you have a friend who will play locally with you it will pass many hours and give you both a good chuckle but otherwise I would put that $40 into something a little more interesting.

Gameplay
78/100
Nothing new, just like the older games but with Batman lego characters.
Graphics
75/100
They are polished but due to the nature of the genre they are very basic.
Audio
80/100
Danny Elfman soundtrack is awesome but the rest is just more of the same.
Value
70/100
$40 is rather steep and there is no online multiplayer.
Overall
(Not an Average)
78/100
Entertaining but nothing we haven’t seen before.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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