Already a successful branch of the LEGO series of games, the LEGO Batman line is soon to add a third entry into its already successful lineup. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, as its name suggests, takes the action outside of just Gotham and spreads it around the globe and even outer space — but does it measure up? We got some hands-on experience with the game in order to find out.
The basic premise of this new title is much the same as the other LEGO games, as you might expect; you run around destroying LEGO models, rebuilding them, solving puzzles, and generally having a fairly camp romp through some enticing areas. This time around the Justice League and co. have to take on the likes of Brainiac – an android from outer space that is hell-bent on shrinking down the Earth for his own nefarious means. Unable to take on the might of the entire planet, Brainiac downsizes (pun intended) his scheme and instead focuses on shrinking down major cities into bottles. Naturally there’ll be some familiar fiends’ faces as well, such as The Joker, Lex Luthor, and many more.
Speaking of characters, this game boasts over 150 of them, all fully playable, including the previously announced Adam West as well as his iconic version of Batman, and you can use the GamePad to switch between any one of these characters much more quickly and easily than with the traditional system of cycling through. Unfortunately this, alongside the typical off-TV play, is the only functionality on the GamePad. Regardless of that fact, an incredible amount of work has been put into making these characters as true to their nature as possible, such as 1960’s Batman’s stealth mode, where he hides his face behind his cape whilst creeping gingerly about; this mode does indeed make him completely invisible to any nearby foes. Also, be ready for some comic book-style exclamations to appear every time you hit something as this gallant gladiator.
New gameplay styles have been brought in to mix up the formula a little bit more, and when you’re not running around besting baddies you’ll be flying through space or along a treadmill against a moving desert backdrop in a number of different vehicles, all of which have their own control methods and weaponry. It really helps to break up what was otherwise fairly monotonous gameplay that can be found in some of the other LEGO titles.
A big part of the experience is the visuals, and TT Games has outdone itself in this title. During a mission that we were shown, Brainiac is systematically shrinking down cities throughout Europe, and by the time our heroes arrive he’s already part-way through the process; because of the decrease in size, every single area is made entirely from LEGO. Many times you’ll be fighting on standard objects with LEGO adornments, but in this mission everything you can see is made from the colourful Danish bricks. Having everything stylised in this fashion is absolutely jaw-dropping, and as glorious as it is, it’s just a shame it’s only used for certain levels and not the norm. Theoretically you can rebuild the entirety of these specific levels brick for brick with complete accuracy, and there’s a warm, fuzzy feeling about that notion that makes the experience all the sweeter.
Overall LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is looking to be an instalment that will easily surpass its predecessors. Don’t be completely suckered in though, as this is still a LEGO game and the level of difficulty remains low in order to appeal to a younger demographic. If you like the DC Comics universe or even just the LEGO games, this is something you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for.