Fashionably Late Reviews
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

By Jorge Figueiredo - February 16th, 2015

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LEGO Batman is back in his biggest adventure yet in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. In Traveller’s Tales’ most ambitious to date, Batman (and the Justice League along with the Lantern Corps) have to take on Brainiac, attempting to foil his attack on the planet Earth. Familiar controls and characters combine with some new mechanics, suits and schtick to create a great experience. If you don’t care for the LEGO game formula, you probably won’t care for this one, either. However, fans of the series won’t be, and should enjoy this game, even if the focus isn’t entirely on Batman.

The campaign mode begins with a video showing various members of the Lantern Corps being summoned into the middle of nowhere, only to be waylaid and brainwashed by Brainiac, who is apparently now trying to collect Lanterns of every colour. With his captured members of the Lantern Corps on board, Brainiac makes his way to Earth to get Hal Jordan. The next few parts of the cut-scene move around, and seem inconsequential – but they are pieces of the story’s puzzle that build up to something sinister. Shortly after the introduction, we join Batman, Robin and Alfred who note that the Batcomputer has detected Brainiac’s ship. Batman peers through his telescope, and in doing so is exposed to Brainiac’s mind-control ray. This is the first true playable level; it serves as an interactive tutorial and teaches players the basics of the controls. Will Batman be able to stop Brainiac? It’s certainly not going to be an easy task (what with Brainiac’s plan involving the power of the seven Lanterns) – but thankfully Batman has help. Batman himself drifts in and out of the main role; while he is arguably one of the coolest characters in comic book history, he can’t engage Brainiac alone.

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Old faves that will bring a smile to your face.

Traveller’s Tales has always employed a winning game-play formula, making it easy for newcomers while rewarding LEGO veterans with new elements. The primary design involves making one’s way through levels, brawling and solving simple puzzles by destroying existing LEGO structures and then creating pre-made solutions to overcome obstacles. It’s not rocket science, but thanks to the easy-to-use controls and the visual panache it is definitely entertaining. Progression through the game leads to the unlocking of characters, each with different powers. Some of their abilities are unique, while most adhere to a class (strength, range, etc.); either way, as these characters become available to use, more areas of the game become accessible. ‎This is one of the best aspects about LEGO games, as it guarantees re-playability (it is impossible to find all of the hidden goodies on a level during your first play-through).

What always amazes me about LEGO games is how much content is contained on the disc. Completing the relatively lengthy campaigns does little to budge the “percentage complete” gauge, leaving the bulk of the content as hidden levels and side quests. There are a ton of secrets and collectibles, so if you are obsessive about ensuring that you complete the game 100%, you will be very busy indeed. There are over 150 characters to unlock, and it seems like special attention was made to give some love to the “B-Listers”, which is a really nice touch (seriously, Conan O’Brien and Kevin Smith are in this game – so much nerd love). One of the best parts of the game content, though, is the ability to use flight-enabled characters. Even though they are bound by limits set by the developers, they are still fun to play with; and when they used to explore areas that are hard to see from the ground, players will find other goodies that they might otherwise have missed.

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Most of the graphics are pretty much the same, though some improvements have been made.

While the game is not overly difficult on the whole, there are some puzzles that will have you scratching your head. There were a few moments where I found myself wondering what the heck I was supposed to do – there was no real direction provided, and no hints to help players along. In these situations, I ended up relying on trial-and-error with the various characters and tools at my disposal. The logic was simple: Traveller’s Tales wouldn’t put me in an impassable situation – the tools and people provided must be enough. Eventually I discovered the answer, and it was always laughably simple – it just depended on one’s point of view. The other issue that I had was that my various side-kicks needed to be constantly side-kicked out of my way. They were constantly interfering, getting in the way during battles and being useless in general – something that has been an issue in previous LEGO games.

LEGO Batman 3 looks great. Like previous LEGO games, the colours and textures of the bricks are fantastic, and the animations are smooth. Cut-scenes are peppered throughout the game at decent enough intervals. Graphical fidelity is marginally improved at best, as this game is definitely more about the content. A cursory glance at the voice cast will reveal just how much personality has been instilled in the game as the credits are very impressive. Old hands are present as well as some recognizable celebrities. Music and sound effects are the icing on the cake, and tie in well with the visuals to deliver a great experience.

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Controls are easy to learn, even if you’re green like this dude.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is more of the same – but with a heck of a lot more characters tucked into the game. Even with all of the characters, I am not sure if this is my favourite LEGO Batman title – at least as a game. While the campaign is solid, the overall feeling that I got was that this game is like walking through a DC Comics museum with a special focus on Batman. I think that caps were tipped towards various aspects of Batman’s history so often that a gentle breeze was generated. This is, of course, not a bad thing if you are into the culture of comic books – it can just be distracting if you’re not really looking to the past. Long story short: if you’re a fan of Batman or the DC Universe, this is a safe bet – especially if you have played one of the previous iterations. Lego Batman 3 is available for most platforms (I reviewed the PS4 version).

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