We’ve been furnished with some excellent news with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham over the weekend. The list of characters, over 150 in total, is very quickly taking shape and we have some awesome new levels being revealed to play with.
LEGO games are LEGO games. Part of the big idea behind them is that they all have consistent mechanics. They are family games for children and adults alike, best enjoyed together. As such they all have, whatever the franchise on top of it, puzzles and gameplay that is instantly recognisable and transferrable from previous LEGO games. This ease of play and similarity with other LEGO games is key to the design of them.
It also makes them rather hard to review and preview. Because we all know exactly what we are getting. There’s some awesome things in LEGO Batman 3 that allows us to go in to further detail but for the main part, this is a fully functioning, comically entertaining LEGO game. The story is that (spoiler for LEGO Batman 2) Brainiac has the Green Lantern’s ring and is going to embark on a dastardly scheme to gain control of the Earth. There our heroes of the Justice League and usual suspects Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc will come in to save the day… Or at least prolong the saving.
Different things occur which allow the characters to move a little bit out of their normal comfort zone thanks to the Lantern powers, especially from characters you wouldn’t normally expect. But in the scheme of things, the plot allows the game to move out beyond Gotham and out to other planets and in to outer space. People who played the Star Wars games will easily recognise the flying/shooting mechanics and whilst the game is fun, it is never exactly challenging. But, see above… That’s the point.
You’ll also get some landscapes you’ve never seen before unless you’ve been in a LEGO shop recently. The game will take you to various European cities as well as Gotham, including our very own London. It’s interesting to note that all of the buildings like the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace could all be built with actual LEGO and the games are all designed so that you could actually build the things in them. Quite neat I thought, and maybe that’s something I should have known. Why the Battersea Power Station is filled with toxic waste, I don’t know. Maybe TT Games know something we don’t.
Speaking of what you should know, the list of characters goes way out of the established norms for Super Hero games. The DC universe has been well and truly pillaged of almost everything and the deepest darkest vaults of characters have come to grace the obsessive collecting we must achieve when playing a LEGO game. Niche people from Batcow to Condiment King to the real life comic Conan O’ Brien, director and Comic Book author Kevin Smith, the Green Loonton, the Darkest Knight (all Green Lantern off shoots) and DC Publisher Jim Lee. DLC was announced at the weekend with Stephen Amell voicing his TV Character of Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow along with other characters from that series. More niche with Toyman, Trickster, Manchester Black… The list actually can go on for a long time and will require you to have more knowledge of the DC Universe than you ever thought possible.
The best thing so far for me is the 1960s Batman mode. You probably don’t remember the TV series starring Adam West but you definitely know the theme tune (ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ber-BAT-MAAAAAN). You probably only know Adam West from Family Guy. But the art and design including the alliterative brilliance of voice acting from West, KAPOW! exclamations with brass instrument sounds and even building the Batmobile (everyone’s favourite Dinky car when they were little) put you in to an amusing trip of nostalgia and if you don’t know the series which arguably shot Batman in to the mainstream then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Other touches exist around the game, like Troy Baker (don’t pretend you don’t know him by now) voicing the eponymous hero, the John Williams Superman music returns when Superman flies and that has even been stretched to Wonder Woman getting her theme played when she takes to the air.
All told, we’ll be able to review the game closer to the release date and comment on its great level design, its fun story and its excellent humour, most of which is already apparent. But it has all the hallmarks of a LEGO game. Which you have to say is something that TT Games have done very well. They have created constantly entertaining and fun games, whatever the veneer on top of their mechanics and LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham promises to be no exception to that trend.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham will be available on November 14th for Xboxb 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC and WiiU