Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO games have, for a while now, provided an endless source of entertainment for a great many households, especially those with younger children. But, at the same time, their use of popular franchises like Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter has helped extend the reach of these titles to gamers of all ages. LEGO Batman 2, for example, was a fun romp whether the player was under the age of 10 or a fully-grown DC Comics fanboy, and it still stands as one of the best licensed titles TT Games has released.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham hoped to build on the strong showing of its predecessor, albeit with a current-gen sheen and a roster more stacked than any LEGO game has offered before. However, in trying to outdo past games, LEGO Batman 3 falls short of providing the next great evolution for the LEGO franchise. Rather, it’s a solid game that fits well within any fans’ library, but not one that will draw in naysayers.
That being said, the scope of LEGO Batman 3 is impressive from a narrative perspective. Although the game has Batman in its title, this is more of a Justice League adventure with some splashes of DC Comics villainy thrown in. Sure, there is still plenty of due given to the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder, but players will spend just as much time running (or flying) around as The Flash, Superman, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter, Joker, Solomon Grundy, and Green Lantern, just to name a few.
Over the course of the game’s 15 missions (and one bonus mission), players will try to thwart Braniac’s devious plan to use the Lantern rings to conquer humanity. However, stopping Braniac is easier said than done, and even then that’s only part of this adventure. By the time the credits roll, players will have visited dozens of iconic locations from throughout the DC Comics universe, from Gotham and The League’s Watchtower to the Blue Lantern planet of Odym. But it’s not just the locations that make LEGO Batman 3 a delight; it’s the storytelling and the design of the game that shine as well.
Much like past games, LEGO Batman 3 features splashes of humor at nearly every turn. Where most comics/movies/TV series try to portray these DC Comics characters with a self-serious tone, these LEGO games have the freedom to let each personality shine. LEGO Batman 3 even flips the dynamics of the characters as well, which makes for an entertaining twist. With that also comes a game whose design makes great use of the current-gen platforms. It may not be as massive in scope as LEGO Marvel, but this third Batman game still offers a decent selection of creative levels bursting with detail.
Gameplay in LEGO Batman 3 will be familiar to those LEGO fans out there, if only because it borrows heavily from those entires which preceded it. All the trademarks of the franchise are here, from the speed building of LEGO Movie to the suit switching of LEGO Batman 2 – mixed and matched to make sure the gameplay stays fresh, but not enough to call this game original. LEGO Batman 3 has a solid puzzle platformer base, but it doesn’t move too far away from the status quo either. Players are still consuming a healthy formula of busting blocks, collecting coins, solving puzzles, and taking down the occasional boss.
In fact, the main gameplay crux of LEGO Batman 3 is the suit-switching mechanic, which sees different DC Comics characters brandishing a handful of outfits with unique capabilities. For example, Batman can switch to a Demolition Suit to destroy previously unbreakable blocks or Robin can switch to his Illumination Suit to create new pathways to explore. Again, it’s nothing that the LEGO Batman sub-franchise hasn’t done before, but smart changes like letting players switch suits at will (instead of at specific points) helps keep the momentum going.
The game does well to break up the monotony with new gameplay mechanics and set-ups like a side-scrolling batwing portion that plays like Resogun. It’s just a shame that LEGO Batman 3 doesn’t have a “new” mechanic to hang its hat on. Really the main selling point of the game is a chance to play as these DC Comics characters that, in the last game, were only playable during the final few levels. And let us say that this game is bursting with DC Comics characters, from the wholly recognizable to the completely obscure. The LEGO games always go for broke when it comes to playable characters, but this one has set a new benchmark. Heck, even Conan O’Brien is in the game.
Even so, there’s still a far too familiar feel to the gameplay. Rudimentary platforming and puzzle solving is fine for younger gamers, but those looking for something a little more involved will find little resistance here. In a lot of cases, the puzzles can be solved with simply the press of a button, and those that do take a little more thinking don’t exactly push the creative envelope. But that seems to be the LEGO game M.O. and for a lot of gamers that simplistic design sensibility is expected and accepted.
After nearly a dozen releases, the LEGO franchise has found a concept and a set-up that work well, even if it doesn’t stretch the limits of gameplay ingenuity. It is for that reason that LEGO Batman 3 serves as a solid entry in the library, but not an exceptional one. Its story and design will delight DC Comics fans, but its gameplay isn’t going to challenge many veteran gamers. At the same time, this is likely the closest we will ever get to a fully-fledged Justice League game, and that alone is reason enough to give this title a look. LEGO fans will find plenty to love about Beyond Gotham, but non-fans will likely find the title comes up short.
Have you played LEGO Batman 3? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is available now for PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this review.
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