It’s back to Gotham for yet another installment in the Lego Batman universe.
SAME BAT TIME, DIFFERENT LEGO BATGAME
Travelers Tales brings us “Beyond Gotham” for Lego Batman 3. The Lego Batman series has scored mixed reviews over the 3 titles. The first Lego Batman was the first in the Lego series to have an original story, to not be based off of a movie like Star Wars or Indiana Jones. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes brought us the first Lego open world game, multiplying the size of the hub world. It was also one of the first Lego games to feature voice acting, as opposed to the previous “himming & hawing” of the previous titles. It worked wonderfully, being another unique story. Lego Batman 3 didn’t move the series forward by any significant milestone, and tends to spin its tires. It’s as if TT ran out of ideas. The throwback and focus on the original Batman series is pleasant, but ultimately underwhelming.
The story line in Lego Batman 3 doesn’t really center Batman, so “Beyond Gotham” is an appropriate name. Members of 6 of the 7 Lantern Corps are summoned before being ambushed by the game’s central villain, Brainiac. With so many classic Gotham villains, it’s an odd direction to choose one from the Green Lantern universe (not even Superman’s?). Brainiac targets earth to gather Hal Jordan, the 7th Lantern.
In an effort to save earth and the impending doom facing it, Batman, Robin, and Superman unprecedentedly join up with Lex Luthor, The Joker, and other DC villains. From there, the story takes a bunch of odd turns, one of which was personality swapping. I enjoyed Wonder Woman’s temper and Lex’s new-found softer side, in particular.
The gameplay is solid as ever – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Lego Batman 3’s strength comes from its core mechanics. If you’ve ever played past Lego games, one of the pillars of Free Play mode is the character switching. In order to complete certain puzzles, you must use certain characters’ unique abilities to advance. In LB3, certain characters have multiple suits. For example, Robin and Cyborg have a “Technology Suit” that can trigger certain switches. Batman has a “Demolition Suit” that can destroy certain barriers. In terms of abilities, characters such as Superman have the ability to use their laser vision on gold objects that must be broken in order to find special objects.
If you are a completionist like me, finishing the game to 100% means completing every level in Story mode and Free Play mode, finding & purchasing each Red/Gold Brick & Character Token, saving every “Adam West in Peril,” and more. It became a grind quickly and got exhausting. Certain games are exciting in the chase for 100%, as it’s thrilling to check off item after item on the list. LB3 is about 10 hours too long, as repetition becomes rampant early. It just unfortunately did not have the variety of the other recent Lego games.
One small aspect of the game I enjoyed was playing through the original Batman-themed era level, “Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.” You play as Adam West’s Batman, including a narration by Mr. West. You faceoff against villains such as Caesar Romero’s Joker. It was a nice touch to finish the main storyline. You can even unlock a cheat that enables a comic book bubble and “wham” noise every time you smack a villain.
One complaint I have with the game pertains to its Downloadable Content. The original game’s lackluster, drawn-out content could have had a much more satisfying overall package if it included a few of the extra levels not playable in the game without purchase. These included levels based on the 2013 movie Man of Steel, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman Beyond, the Arrow TV Series, and more. These would have been major selling points and likely boosted review scores across the board. I support DLC, but this didn’t sit right with me because of the game’s poor overall outing. Why pay more for the good stuff when I had to pay $60 for content that left me unfulfilled? (Check out our DLC-ethics discussion here).
Elsewhere, you’ll run into a bunch of completely random celebrities throughout the hub worlds, such as Conan O’Brien and Kevin Smith. This goes along with the theme that TT was out of material and in essence, was grasping at straws.
Lego Batman 3’s gameplay is tight, but the rest left me dissatisfied – a rarity when it comes to the relationship I have with Lego Games. Completionists will feel the most wear and tear.
+ Throwback to Adam West Batman.
+ A few colorful moments during an otherwise dull story.
– Looking to complete to 100%? Better clear your calendar.
– Repetitive and grinding to finish the game.
– DLC that should have been partially or fully included with original purchase.
– Odd celebrity cameos.
What is a hindsight review? It’s an article in which a Geekiverse writer reviews a game that they have never played before and is outside its launch window. It offers a fresh perspective and shows which games in your backlog are worth playing through.
Josiah LeRoy is the Founder of The Geekiverse. Catch him playing on Xbox Live & PS Network via josiahislegend.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham was reviewed on the Xbox One. It is also available for PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, iOS, PC, and Android.