Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games’ Lego series had some humble beginnings as their games acted as a way to bring a number of popular film series to consoles, computers and handhelds in a way that children, and the children at heart, could enjoy. Having such legendary film series, such as the Harry Potter series or Star Wars saga, infused with the wit and humor of the Lego series ensured the entire family could enjoy every game.
Lego Batman 3 is the second game in the Lego Batman series to have its own original story instead of basing itself on any of the Batman films. This title also goes beyond being just a Batman game, and instead invites a vast selection of DC Comics characters, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash, to the mix. Does the Lego Dark Knight continue the streak of good Lego games you and your family could enjoy together? Let’s open up the cardboard box and get to building our review.
Dangers from Beyond Gotham
The Lego Batman series has gone from following the Batman films, to opening the city of Gotham to play through in Lego Batman 2. Lego Batman 3 takes things to a whole new level as Batman and the heroes and villains of DC Comics take their fight beyond Gotham and into space. Batman and crew are lured into outer space in order to stop Brainiac from using the power of the Lantern Rings to add multiple worlds to his unique collection. Now it’s up to DC’s superheroes and villains to come together in order to save their world so they could fight on it all over again.
The outer space locale of Lego Batman 3 means you can expect to see the inside of a lot of large space ships and stations early on in your quest to stop Brainiac. You’ll journey from the Batcave, to the Hall of Justice, to the Justice League’s Watchtower, and even to a variety of Lantern worlds, including Zamaron and Odym. The different locations I experienced in Lego Batman 3 were varied and unique from one another, which was certainly welcome considering just how many locations players are taken during their time with the game. Once players complete the story mode, they’re able to revisit and explore all of the locations they already visited in order to uncover a wide variety of extras, which includes Easter Eggs, red Lego bricks, and other surprises like a bonus level inspired by the classic 1960s Batman TV series.
DC and Beyond
The story of Lego Batman 3 really serves as a way to bring both superheroes and villains together in a way that would make the most sense, rather than just unlocking villains that can then be used in Free Play mode to gain access to previously inaccessible areas of a level. Lego Batman 3 will literally throw both superheroes and villains together in several missions later on in the game, which makes mixing and matching them feel less awkward than it was in previous titles. In fact, I always found it extremely impressive how TT Games is able to partner certain characters together in order to complete tasks within a specific level, and I found Lego Batman 3 to be no different as I’ve seen levels where Batman and The Joker, as well as other notable rivals, actually work well as a team. Insanity!
There are over 150 characters that can be unlocked, each equipped with powers and abilities, although the main powers behind them are largely shared. For example, both Martian Manhunter and The Joker are able to control other characters through mind control, although they both perform the ability in their own unique style. These abilities can be accessed through the game’s gadget wheel, which many characters have, although some, such as Killer Croc, are only able to perform a small amount of special moves. Speaking of Croc, there are some BIG LEGO characters in Lego Batman 3 that can be used in a variety of ways, such as Cyborg being able to clear certain debris, or Solomon Grundy uncovering valuable items within Lego swamps. And for the first time in the series, there are flying BIG LEGO figures.
Lego Batman 3 takes things a bit further than including superheroes and villains fighting together by throwing in a number of celebrities. The original 1960s Batman himself, Adam West, is one such celebrity that seems to fit right in, although the inclusion of Conan O’Brien and Kevin Smith made me wonder why exactly either one was in the game. I’m aware Kevin Smith is a big fan of comic books, as most of us are, but Conan O’Brien? Really?
One small addition TT Games made to the characters in Lego Batman 3 is the inclusion of theme songs for specific characters. For example, when Wonder Woman flies, the theme song from her 1970s TV series will start to play. Superman also has the theme song from his 1978 film playing when he takes flight. These are small inclusions, for sure, but it’s something older players will certainly appreciate when they experience it.
Building and breaking
The main gameplay mechanics for Lego games has largely revolved around both building and breaking the world around you, which, to be honest, is pretty much what Lego pieces are all about in the real world. Lego Batman 3 continues this core mechanic, which allows kids to fully understand the game if they’ve played previous iterations of it. Breaking random Lego pieces in each level will reward the player with Lego studs, which can then be used to unlock additional content. There won’t be many moments when players aren’t earning Lego studs. Complete a puzzle? Earn some studs. Defeat a bad guy? He’ll drop some studs. Build a portal out of Lego studs? Here are some more studs.
But unlike other Lego games, Lego Batman 3 also offers additional experiences outside of these typical game mechanics to keep the game feeling fresh. A number of mini-games are sprinkled throughout the game’s main story that allows players to take part in a Tron-like experience, fly around a space station with gameplay mechanics that mimics side-scrolling shoot-em-ups, and even a freefall back onto Earth filled with Lego studs, for example. As fun as completing puzzles and beating up bad guys is in most Lego titles, having some other mechanic thrown in from time to time can help cleanse the palette.
Speaking of beating up bad guys, the fighting mechanic in Lego Batman 3 is on par with combat in most Lego games. That's to say you can defeat most standard enemies with a single hit, making it easy to plow through a wave of enemies in one shot. I understand this is a game geared towards kids, so I don't exactly expect to complete an excessive number of combos using multiple attacks and special moves. But I would love if Lego would offer some kind of additional gameplay mechanic for adult players to offer more of a challenge when they're playing along with a younger player. Even so, I did enjoy was seeing just how my characters disposed of their adversaries. For example, Robin uses his acrobatic skills to juggle the enemy with his legs, to then deliver a finishing blow.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is yet another game in the Lego Batman franchise that goes beyond just being about Batman, and instead, the series now encompasses all of DC Comics. This move makes the game feel much larger than it probably would be if the game would strictly follow the Batman universe, and that's a very good thing. The amount of replayability Lego Batman 3 offers is mind-blowing, and it will take some time to unlock all 150 characters as well as other hidden gems and secrets.
If you're a fan of DC Comics and don't mind the simple gameplay mechanics the Lego series is known for, then Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham will give you and your family hours upon hours of enjoyment. It also won't lead you to taking out a second mortgage on your home as you won't need to buy hundreds of physical toys to play the game; but after your kids start playing Lego Batman 3, I'm sure you'll end up buying them Lego toys anyways.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 retail copy provided by the publisher. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is available in retail stores and across various digital platforms for $49.99 for last-gen and $59.99 for new-gen. The game is rated E10+