LEGO Batman Review

It all just clicks into place

We've had Indiana Jones in a plastic fedora and Luke Skywalker with sharp corners. Now it's Gotham City's turn for the shiny, bricky, platform makeover. And if you know the Lego series, you'll appreciate that - unlike Christian Bale and his grumpy-chops growling Dark Knight - this adventure won't be taking itself very seriously at all.

A bit of a Joker

Lego Batman steps away from the depressing darkness that smothered the recent movies, and borrows instead from the comics, the Tim Burton films and even - thanks to pastel-clothed villains and lots of self-consciously silly cut-scenes - the camp crusading of the '60s TV show.

And it goes further than that. Ever seen a giant, rideable, Lego dinosaur skeleton in a Batman story? You have now.

This has great heaping spoonfuls of the idiotic fun that the Lego games do so well.

So, yes, this has great heaping spoonfuls of the idiotic fun that the Lego games do so well. You smash enemies and the environment; pull the odd puzzly lever; greedily gobble up the collectible studs that fountain from just about everything; for sheer craftsmanship, the Lego series rivals even the mighty Mario titles.

Two-faced missions

Missions drag you from the depths of Gotham's sewers to the heights of its cathedral, and range from bank heist foiling to city-street racing. Gotham's undesirables aren't simply wheeled on and off stage for boss fights, either. In a neat twist, you get to play each level as both heroes (Batman and Robin) and villains (The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman and more).

Happily, Lego Batman takes a bold Batrope-swing away from the 'R2D2-activates-R2D2-door' tedium of Lego Star Wars' worst puzzles. Different characters come with bespoke abilities while Batman and Robin get secret-unlocking suit upgrades such as gliding powers and magnet-o-boots. Well, we never said it was too faithful to the comics.

Ever seen a giant, rideable, Lego dinosaur skeleton in a Batman story? You have now.

There's a real thrill in progressing through Lego Batman and seeing the hub worlds - the Bat-Cave for the goodies; Arkham Asylum for the baddies - teem with new playable characters. While two-player co-op is a riot of most-loved and most-hated Batman characters (as well as unholy ‘kill-it-for-the-love-of-God’ mutants from the mix-and-match character creation).

Whether your chosen character's grin is sincere or maliciously evil, it's the vehicle bits that truly shine. As well as those dinosaurs, you get some exhilarating Batmobile levels, the bomb-dragging Batcopter and, perhaps unexpectedly, a giant green enemy-munching Batcrocodile.

Batman forever

Complaints? On Wii, control is disappointingly restricted to pointer-controlled Batarang action. It's simpler just to Batawhack the hordes with your fists, in true '60s WHAP-BIFF style. And the game is far too keen to take evil advantage of your endless lives, running you into (brick) walls of enemies that almost never end. There's nothing more annoying than swarms of troops distracting you from constructing that giant Lego skeleton dinosaur.

But, like the rest of this sparkling series, Lego Batman is a true family game. It’s approachable and funny for kids; bursting with secrets and Batman nods for the grown-ups. And did we mention the dinosaurs?

GAME's Verdict
plus points
  • Gaming so pure you could bottle it.
  • A mountain of extras, secrets and cheats to unlock. Replayability that breaks the replayability-o-meter.
  • The best Lego vehicle sections yet, and possibly the best Batmobile levels in any game, ever.
minus points
  • Stay out of Gotham if you're expecting something revolutionary from your Lego-based gaming.
  • Takes a little too much pleasure in repeatedly killing you off.
  • A minimal amount of Wii remote functionality.

Review by: Mark Scott
Version Tested: Wii
Review Published: 01.10.08

Published: 01/10/2008

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