If the Playstation 4 is for the players then Lego Batman 3 is definitely for the fans. There is literally so much DC universe content thrown at you I cannot even begin to imagine how a DC buff could not love this game. But not only is there a lot to do it is delivered with almost complete precision. TT Games then, it would seem, have might have finally given us the ultimate Lego game.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham does start a bit slow and I must admit to feeling a little disappointed to begin with. The levels felt a little samey, as if they were taken from previous iterations of the series. The suits, the characters and even the levels themselves had way too much ‘Lego Batman 2’ about them. What exactly was I playing here?
Things did start to pick up quite quickly after level Earth. There is a 2.5D side-scrolling shooter level (a simpler version of Resogun if you like) followed by a level set on a revolving platform in space. The gaming mechanics were basically the game but it was nice to see them trying something a bit different with the level designs.
lb33Once in space, though, the levels just get visually better and better. They don’t exactly push the boundaries of the next gen platforms but there is a definite step up from even recent games such as The Hobbit and The Movie. The story itself is passable, but then once you consider its main target audience probably haven’t got as far as long division at school yet then it’s forgivable.
Strangely, though, it’s after the story when this game really comes alive. Do you remember a time when the Hub in a Lego game was nothing more than a few rooms and halls within which you could select levels and buy red bricks and a few other bits and pieces? It has evolved over the years from Mos Eisley’s Cantina from Star Wars to Gotham City in Batman to Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings. The Hub in Lego Batman 3 is its raison d’etre.
You start off on the Watchtower; a huge satellite floating above the Earth. This area in itself is pretty huge and in it you will find all the usual gubbins we’ve come to expect of late: a level selector for those wanting Free Play, gold bricks, a place to buy extras, more gold bricks, a character creator, even more gold bricks, hidden bonus characters and even some gold bricks.
You also get access to the Bat Cave and the Hall of Justice, and within these you will find more even more of the aforementioned collectibles. But then there’s also the moon base to discover, which feels like a cross between a Lego game and Super Mario Galaxy. This little world on its own brought a huge smile to my face, but then I found I could travel from there to…
Six alien planets from the DC universe. I mean they’re not massive (think Super Mario Galaxy again) but they are beautifully detailed and there is plenty to find and do on them. Or even do what I did and just have a fly around with Superman. They truly are stunning little add-ons and left me dumbfounded at just how much Tt were giving us to play.
And that’s still not everything
To top it all off Tt have managed to deliver it in a package nearly devoid of all my usual grumbles. The crappy camera angles have disappeared almost completely (although I did find it happened more often in free roam on the Lantern planets) and only once so far (in nearly 20 hours of playing) has my character become irretrievably stuck somewhere. Flicking between characters also seems smoother; I think it was the Lego Marvel game where I became frustrated with the controls getting confused between the Banner-Hulk transition and selecting a completely different character.
The level where you play as the 1966 Batman and Robin was awesome (well it was for me anyway, although some of it went above my son’s head). The VR missions are also quite fun and make a break from the norm. And those little in games jokes that are dotted all over the place (taking the mick out of Arnie’s Mr Freeze from Batman & Robin, the fact that 1966’s Batman’s Bat-sense is in black and white, that one of the levels is a reference to Star Wars and another one to Breaking Bad).
That said it wasn’t flawless. The beginning was quite slow and might put some off if that’s all they saw. The bulk of the game, too, is quite repetitive for the ‘maturer’ gamer. I can forgive them a little on this when I think their target audience is 30 years my junior, however I was left a bit disappointed with the complete lack of anything new in terms of controls and/or puzzles.
Overall I couldn’t help but be amazed at what Tt Games have delivered with Lego Batman 3. The sheer scale is way beyond anything I could imagine. They also seem to have invested a lot of time perfecting the core gaming experience rather than trying to innovate and deliver something that doesn’t quite work. This game is as close to a perfect Lego game that Tt have given us so far, and certainly gives me hope that there is still a future for the game genre beyond movie tie-ins.
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