In brightest day, in blackest night, no four-stud brick shall escape my sight. Let those who worship Mega Blocks, beware my power, Green Lantern Lego’s might!
Say what you like about various games coming back for yet another annual release with recycled content and ideas, but you can’t top Lego when it comes to that dubious honour. Where Lego succeeds however, is that it applies the exact same formula to a a different franchise every year, focusing instead on fan service that borders on impossible.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is very much the exact same Lego game you’ve played several times already, but if you can get through the initial slow pace, it opens up into a universe that is filled with fanboy love and appreciation. So where does the story begin? Well, Braniac takes the center stage in this game, having captured several members of the various Lantern Corps as he sets out to shrink more planets to add to his ever-growing collection. Of course, it’s up to the Batman and the rest of the Justice League to put a top to this nefarious villain, while battling other familiar rogues along the way.
And for a game that has the Dark Knight on the cover, Lego Batman 3 is more of a New 52 shared universe game where the Gotham vigilante takes a backseat to other heroes during the quest to save the day. If you’ve played one Lego game, you’ve played them all as I mentioned above. You;re still running around levels, handing out occasional beatdowns, breaking everything into studs and using leftover Lego pieces to construct gadgets that will help you solve a current puzzle/boss fight. And initially, it’s actually rather boring as you tinker around a space station or fiddle with hardware in the Batcave.
It’s very much yet another Lego game at that point. But once you’ve got past the mundane levels, Lego Batman 3 actually begins to come alive, as if a White Lantern ring were slipped onto its finger. The focus brings players back to hubs and individual levels that can be explored for further access to unlock more secrets, tying into the cosmic side of the DC universe with the various Lanterns along for the ride.
In a way, I miss the more open-world design of previous games in the franchise, but by scaling back and focusing on individual areas to explore, this also gives the game a more diverse environment that encourages coming back. These are colourful levels, with playthroughs unlocking a massive a roster of heroes and villains, from the Martian Manhunter to the Joker. The majority of these characters are essentially re-skinned heroes and villains from Lego Marvel Superheroes, but this most likely won’t phase the kids that the game is aimed at.
And once again, that’s the kind of game that Lego Batman 3 is. Sure, there’s ample fan service, achievements and collectables, but this is primarily a kids game with the focus being that of an action puzzle starring garishly-dressed heroes and villains. It very much is Lego Marvel Superheroes, but in DC drag. But at the very least, it is a faithful attempt at creating a game set in the universe of the other big player in comic books these days. The voice acting is top notch, with Clancy Brown reprising his iconic role as Lex Luthor, while Troy Baker switches roles to be Batman instead of the Joker for once.
Likewise, TV’s own archery-obsessed vigilante Stephen Amell pitches up as Green Arrow, Roger Craig Smith ditches his gruff voice from Arkham Origins to play 5th dimensional tutorial sprite Bat-Mite and a host of cameo appearances from former Batman Adam West, filmmaker Kevin Smith and various DC Comics staff round out a game that was built with the fans in mind.
Which is pretty fine and dandy, if you haven’t played a Lego game before or don’t mind the same experience with a slightly different cosmetic overhaul. Those visuals aren’t exactly stretched on the PlayStation 4, but they do shine in several areas and are imaginatively bright when necessary. Beyond Gotham and all that however, the game also some surprisingly fun mini-games, that even includes a nod to cult hit Resogun. Throw in some two-player action via split screen, and you’ve got a game that will appeal to your junior Justice League.
It’s still filled with various foibles from previous Lego games however. Despite the puzzles being simple enough for kids, the game quite often fails to create rudimentary direction to subtly steer players in the right direction, the user interface really does need a facelift that doesn’t make it feel like it’s stuck in 1999 and a decent checkpoint system would actually be helpful at this point.
Last Updated: November 26, 2014