Ever since finishing Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, I’ve taken something of a break from Lego games. But after getting both Lego Batman 2 and Lego Lord of the Rings for Christmas, that break was over. I decided to dive into Lego Batman 2 first, and it turned out to be even better than I had expected it to be. The game keeps a very similar formula to previous Lego games. The gameplay is similar to past Lego games, and the collectibles make their return. The unique brand of Lego humor is also back in Lego Batman 2.
But Lego Batman 2 also makes a lot of changes to the very similar Lego formula. Instead of following a series of movies, like all the others have, Lego Batman 2 crafts an original story. It is also the first Lego game to have voice acting, and, on top of that, you get an open world Gotham City.
The story mode, while certainly a small portion of the game, is extremely engaging and entertaining. Having a full cast of voice actors certainly helps the game’s cause. The reason that the first Lego Batman wasn’t all that engaging was that it tried to create an original story with no voice acting. That lack of voice acting is fine for games like Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star Wars, but that’s because those games retell a story we all know and love. Some of Lego Batman 2’s best moments actually come from the voice acting. Vicki Vale’s reporting is funny (there’s even a jab at Arkham City) and Robin’s fanboying over Superman is also pretty funny.
But with the voice acting, we also become more engaged in the characters. The story comes across much better through the talking that it would have through a series of gestures and grunts. And throughout the story’s 15 missions, I can guarantee you will be entertained. You may at first think it to be a simple story (Lex Luthor and Joker try to rig the presidential election so Luthor will win), but it’s more than that. While that is the main story, you will also see Batman evolve a little, from a self reliant lone wolf to a more accepting member of a bigger team.
And by “bigger team” I mean a good portion of the Justice League. Superman joins Batman and Robin fairly early, but by the end of the story, you’ll have added The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman to the list of Justice League members you’ll have access to.
The game’s finale involves a giant Joker robot – and it’s pretty awesome.
Each character has their own specific skill set. While there are some characters that are very similar (Superman and Zod are exactly the same) most have their own abilities. For example, Cyborg and Superman can use heat vision to melt gold objects. Green Lantern can build green Lego objects. The Flash can run at lightning fast speeds. On top of that, Batman and Robin each have a host of suits that gives them new abilities. Most of them can be made up for by other characters, but the suits are a very fun gameplay mechanic.
Don’t expect to spend a whole lot of time on the story mode though. Even if you are meticulous like me and make it a goal to achieve superhero status on nearly every mission you’re first time through by smashing everything and collecting studs (in game currency), you’re looking at between 8 and 9 hours on the story mode. Obviously, you’ll probably play it all again for the minikits and more studs, but as entertaining as it is, the story mode isn’t where the real fun is.
No, the real fun comes after you’ve finished the story mode, in the first open world Lego game. Lego Batman 2 gives you access to an open world Gotham City, which consists of three islands, and is surprisingly big. Throughout each of the three islands are seemingly endless collectibles that you can get. I’ve devoted hours to finding all the gold bricks, and I’m barely halfway through. The gold bricks are the crowning jewel of this game. Each of them is essentially a mini puzzle that you’ll have to solve, most of the time with either Batman or Robin. These puzzles are almost like mini games, and while some are quite similar, most are actually very different.
But what is the reward for collecting them?, you may ask. While, it’s a great deal of fun. And there is a big achievement at the end for getting all of them. But the real rewards are the characters. Collecting a certain amount of gold bricks will allow you access to an expanded roster of characters. Provided you have enough studs and gold bricks, you can build a door that they will come out of, and then buy them. And, like the other characters you’ll unlock, these characters to have specific skill sets. Among them are Huntress, the Hawks, and Aquaman. The wide selection of heroes is a great deal of fun just to play around with.
By the time you’re done with the game, you’ll have access to most of the JLA.
But before you can really get to finding the gold bricks, you’ll have to activate a bunch of terminals spread across the city’s open world. Each of those terminals uncovers a segment of the map, and each of them also gives you access to a villain. All you have to do then is make your way to that character, defeat them, and then they become available for purchase. These characters include Mr. Freeze, Sinestro, and even Captain Boomerang. And, like the heroes, they’re a lot of fun to play with.
Because what the open world is, more than anything, is a sandbox. There’s a lot you can do, from collecting studs and other collectibles, to doing things that make no sense. You can drive the Batmobile as the Joker. You can pilot a helicopter as Superman. You can beat up Bane as Vicki Vale. All of it is a great deal of fun.
Between the story mode, which is surprisingly well done, and the open world sandbox, Lego Batman 2 will provide countless hours of entertainment. It’s a collectors heaven, filled with gold and red bricks, as well as a massive roster of characters. Lego Batman 2 truly is one of the best games of 2012.