Lego Batman

Date Fri, November 7 2008

Let me start this by saying I have not really enjoyed any other games on the XBox. For the most part, they are not my style so for me to even consider playing a game is pretty shocking. I was attracted to Lego Batman because the Lego concept is cute and I enjoy the idea of Batman. My husband, of course, is also a Batman fan and we mostly picked it up to play together.

I was excited to play this game and still enjoy it but have become increasingly frustrated by certain pitfalls. First, though, the good.

The characters are adorable. The ego design interprets Batman’s stealth and masculinity and even shows the female characters and their curves adorably. We play with and against well known names like Batman, Robin, Catwoman and the Joker and see figures which may only be known to more serious fans such as Nightwing and The ManBat. I think this allows casual and hardcore fans alike to appreciate the game.

Every character has the ability to fight in a meelee style and the villains have a special power which doubles as a weapon and is generally required to beat the levels. For instance, Poision Ivy has a chemical cloud that grows flowers, stuns people and makes door operators fall in love with her. Mr Freeze can freeze people or liquid. The Bat crew can also use batarangs as well as a sort of grappling gun. Furthermore, certain characters are super strong (Mr Freeze), can double jump (Poison Ivy) or can walk in toxic waste and there are different BatMan and Robin suits which can also be worn by Nightwing and Batgirl which allow the gang go swim, plant bombs, break glass, and use technology among other tools.

Although released after The Dark Knight, it has nothing to do with that story. The plot is interesting enough without being too in depth. The entire story can be played as a hero or villain from the Batcave and Arkham Asylum, respectively. The overall story is broken into 3 levels on each side (hero vs villain) and each episode is made up of 5 levels for a total of 30 levels and 2 bonus levels. The levels are counterparts to each other. That is, each level is played from both the side of the heroes and of the villains; although you do not fight the heroes as the villain so it is not the same level as the other time. Villain levels generally show the villains plotting before the faceoff with the Bat crew. Of course, each works up to a boss at the end of the episode and the episodes altogether create a larger story.

Gameplay is fairly basic (as are the controls, thankfully). and you start each level in story mode. You break people and stuff which are made out of Legos. You also build things with Legos like levers and vehicles to accomplish goals. In between this, you drive around in little cars, boats, trucks or motorcycles, control robots and helicopters, walk on tight ropes and ride in giant mech-like robots.

The breaking and killing result in dropped coins, call studs, and hearts for health. Each character (you and a friend can play) has optimum health at 4 hearts and “dies” when the hearts run out. This results in the scattering of some of your studs – a loss of money. At certain times, Ryan and I would find ourselves stuck and we searched for the solutions online. Although this only happened 2 or 3 times, for a game that is made for 10 year olds, this could be an issue. After beating story mode, you can play in free mode which allows you to select your character and the computer assigns additional characters you can switch to.

Besides beating each level and the game itself, there are smaller accomplishments built in. By collecting enough studs (how many varies by level), you can achieve Superhero or Supervillain and get a piece of the Super kit (collecting all superkits unlock the extra bonus levels). By accomplishing certain feats players can get minikits, of which there are 10 for each level. Gaining all these minikits results in a reward of studs. Also, you can collect red bricks which unlock additional abilities and tools like a minikit detector and stud magnet. However, extras are routinely unlocked as you complete the levels ad you will soon find yourself able to purchase suit upgrades, characters and other abilities.

As you unlock different abilities and characters, you can go back and play the free play on levels which you have already played in story mode. This helps you get more studs and complete the game. After playing each level, you can see how much of the game is completed by percentage and this includes beating the levels as well as finding all the red bricks, minikits and making superhero/villain as well.

Now for the bad. The really bad. The thing that makes this game so frustrating: Camera Angles.

From my understanding, this has been a problem for all the Lego games. Basically, you have very little control over the camera, so little that you might as well not have any. This results in your character being far from the screen and difficult seeing where he is or what he is doing. Because of this you will experience any number of these issues:

  • getting stuck in a corner
  • falling off ledges and dying
  • walking to your death (because you cannot see where you’re walking)
  • missing your target when you jump
  • difficulty climbing ladders
  • walking into the enemy, bullets, toxic slime and any other potentially fatal substance
  • having to move blindly through the game
  • using a special ability when you are trying to build something
  • being pushed off ledges by the computer when playing 2 player

Overall, the camera angles result in a lot of unnecessary dying not because of a lack of skill but because you cannot possibly judge where you need to be, are going or what is around you. This seems to cause a lot of trouble when player multiplayer (and sometimes when playing alone) because the camera tries to focus on both players but sometimes this is not feasible. Unless you stay close together which can sometimes kill you, it’s difficult to see.

Another, albeit lesser issue, I have is when playing multiplayer. You have a computer player as well and sometimes this person stands directly in your way so you cannot hit your target or jump where you need to. Often, you must kill your sidekick in order to get him out the way. And, although he does fight the enemy, he doesn’t do it very well so you wind up doing the brunt of the work. Lastly, there are times when you each must pull a switch and getting the computer player to do so is usually a hassle.

Because we play this game on the XBox 360, we can unlock XBox achievements which add a little more excitement to the game.

Nonetheless, I enjoy Lego Batman overall. I like how the elements of each character – both hero and villain – were brought in from the history of Batman. I thought that the characters were cute, the weapons were fitting and the story made sense. However, the camera angle causes enough frustration that it could cause a person to not want to even finish the game. I think if that issue were solved, this game would not only be more fun, but easier as well.

Helpful Hint: Items which are blue and/or sparkly can be blown up with Batman’s demolition suit or run over with larger vehicles.

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