|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Travellers Tales||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The life system doesnt add any challenge, either. Youre given four Zelda-style hearts, and when theyre gone, you simply lose some of your studs and come back to life immediately. If you get down to zero studs, you stay at zero, and still come back to life. Its unfortunate no one thought to add adjustable difficulty; this might entertain a small child, but an adult will often feel bored with no chance of dying.
Oddly enough, given how intent the developers seemed on keeping this game as easy, simple, and user-friendly as possible, theres quite a distance between save points, which occur only at the ends of the roughly 20-minute levels. One of the DSs advantages is that you can take it out and play it on random stretches of free time (a ride to work, a lunch break), but LEGO Batman demands you schedule your free time around its save system.
After beating the Batman and Robin levels in Story Mode (or before then, for that matter), you can visit the Arkham Asylum, from which all the bad guys youve beaten had escaped (and then plotted all sorts of mayhem), according to the games original story. From there, you can play through 15 more levels as bad guys with, you guessed it, different abilities that surpass different obstacles.
(Disturbingly, some of these levels involve hitting and shooting guns at what, at least to us, appear to be uniformed police officers. Did Ice-T advise the development team? Did some of the data for Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars somehow end up on the LEGO Batman cartridge?)
You can also spend your LEGO studs to unlock more characters, and go through the levels with them in Free Play mode. Or, you can search the levels for hidden items, which purchase even more treats. Sure, its repetitive, but theres no denying that theres a ton of material here.
The presentation, naturally, takes a bit of a hit relative to the big console versions. The cutscenes are gone, replaced by still pictures drawn in a comic-book style; to the developers credit, it looks like they took some time with the illustrations. The comics depict LEGO figurines in the midst of action sequences, with style and a haunting color palette. It can be hard to figure out whats going on (there are no words), there are perhaps too many of them, and theres no way to skip these sequences, however.
Other than that, the DS version of LEGO Batman looks and feels good. The visuals wont amaze a PlayStation 3 owner, but it is impressive how much power they can cram into the palms of your hands these days, with countless breakable items inside a vast 3-D world. Gotham doesnt have a whole lot of character to it, but it is gritty for something made out of LEGOs. The soundtrack comes from that of Tim Burtons 1989 Batman flick, making for a dark, majestic mood, and the sound effects are magnificent, bringing out everything from the cute tap-tap of LEGOs fitting together to the cartoon-worthy Pow! of your fist meeting a bad guys face.
This series has hit its stride, and conceivably the developers could keep pumping out decent games for years to come. A lot of fans will surely ache for a franchise reboot (maybe LEGO Batman Begins?), but until that happens, LEGO Batman will do just fine.
CCC Freelance Writer