x360a Hands On: LEGO Batman
Written Thursday, July 24, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Tuesdays are usually boring days of the week for me. It's that one day where you're still recovering from the weekend but too far away from the next one to care. This week however was one of those exceptions. Thanks to our friends over at Warner Bros, I had the chance to trek in to London to sample the delights of the upcoming LEGO Batman title and get a look at the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight, 4 days before its UK release. Before I reflect on my hands on with the latest LEGO title, can I just say that The Dark Knight is a film of epic proportions and should be experienced by everyone when they get a chance. If Heath Ledger doesn't win an Oscar for his exhilarating performance as the Joker I'll eat my virtual hat! Anyway, I digress...
The Batman franchise is the latest to get the LEGO block treatment from UK based developer, Traveller's Tales. Unlike any other title in the series, LEGO Batman allows gamers to step in to a story not told on the big screen and get involved in a plot unknown to them.
LEGO Batman throws you in to the shoes of Batman, Robin and friends as you attempt to put the recently escaped villains back in their rightful place. A welcome addition in the newest LEGO title is the ability to play the game from the other side of the tracks and to inflict misery upon Gotham's helpless citizens as some of the most iconic villains that have ever graced the big screen.
Said to include some familiar locations and some epic vehicles (yes, the Bat Wing is a usable vehicle we're informed), Gotham city, despite the dark nature of the Batman series, is bright and colourful and not as drab as one might expect. While there are vivid and engaging environments, the game doesn't seem to sacrifice the series' dark nature. It's good to see that Traveller's Tales can balance the needs of diehard fans without alienating the family orientated audience that the LEGO titles tend to attract.
While not exactly a veteran in the LEGO series, I can still appreciate the ease of the controls and how easy it was to just pick up and play. The combat is simple as hell, constant tapping of the attack button will despatch wave after wave of adversary without you even having to break a sweat. Different characters have different weapons, whether you’re Mr Freeze with his freeze gun, Batman with his Batarangs, or the Joker with his tommy guns, the concept is all very much the same, fisticuffs up close and the ranged weapons from, well... range.
In our hands on, we managed to sample one of the vehicles... an ice cream truck in fact which wasn’t too over whelming, but I don’t suppose the developers intended that vehicle to win us over. What we did notice was the ease of handling which again adds to the ease of the “pick-up-and-play-ability” (considers entering that in to the gaming dictionary).
Where would the LEGO series be without its quirky puzzles? Well, it wouldn't be a LEGO game, simple as. LEGO Batman is no different in this respect and continues the trend of the series in fine style. In the preview level we experienced, it demonstrated the need for the two players to work together. How it holds up playing alone, we are unsure as of yet because we only got the chance to play co-op, but surely Traveller’s Tales would have this all sussed by now, seeing as they are essentially LEGO and co-op veterans. The puzzles however simply require one person to do something to allow the other to progress and then the other person repays the favour. Not rocket science really, but the title is meant to appeal to gamers of all age and skill level.
Although disappointed at the lack of online co-op, the offline co-op is a more than enjoyable experience. It's more of the same as far as LEGO Batman is concerned as Traveller's Tales adopt the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude. Simple puzzles and amusing takes on a franchise that has seen more than its share of the limelight, make up the basis of the game.
LEGO Batman looks to be continuing the trend of simple, enjoyable, accessible family orientated titles, but whether it will offer something new to the series remains to be seen. The addition of playing the story from another perspective is welcomed with open arms and the vast array of characters to play with will certainly elongate the experience somewhat. But we can't help but feel the series needs something new. Will LEGO Batman be an enjoyable romp? It certainly seems that way. Will it be any different from any other titles in the series? In terms of gameplay, don't count on it. Either way, you'll get to fly the Batwing and that is enough to keep anyone happy!
Although there has been no official release date for LEGO Batman confirmed to date, we believe that the title will hit shelves on October 10th... Why so specific? Cause we saw it on a piece of paper that’s why.