What I’m Playing: LEGO Batman

Here’s something I haven’t had many chances to post here — today I’m going to talk a little bit about a video game I’m playing.

I know. It surprised me too.

I don’t play a lot of video games, folks. I’m usually doing something else and, to be frank, I’m not that good at them. So it’s got to be something I really want to play to take my time. If DC Universe Online finally comes out next year, I’m gonna be all over that bad boy.

But last year I got a chance to play the LEGO Star Wars game for a few minutes and I thought it was fun. When I heard LEGO Batman was going to be available for PC (I have no X-Box, no Playstation, no Wii… I’m a heathen) I thought it’d be fun to give it a spin. And when I found it on sale yesterday, I picked it up. I’ve spent most of the afternoon spinning through the LEGO-ized version of Gotham City.

As far as sheer gameplay goes, this is a lot of fun. The designs are great and the animated “story’ sequences that provide the plot of the game are really funny. Robin comes across a little buffoonish, which bothers me as a fan of Tim Drake, but it works with the tone of the game. The plot, basically, is that a mass breakout occurs at Arkham Asylum, releasing nearly all of Batman’s foes at once, so he and his allies have to cut loose to capture them.

The game contains 30 levels — 15 you play as the heroes and 15 as the villains, and you tag-team with another character in every level. So far, I’ve only played the first “story” of five hero levels, featuring Batman and Robin tracking down the Riddler and Two-Face (who have also recruited Clayface, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Freeze in their scheme). The controls took a little getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, I did fine. There’s a lot of action — a lot of times where you just go around and beat up villains — and that’s fine. You also find yourself building things out of LEGOs to create weapons, vehicles, and other things. Plus, almost everything is breakable, since it’s all made of LEGO. The game totally simulates the LEGO experience — sometimes you’re the kid getting to put together crazy things, sometimes you’re the jerk who shows up and just starts breaking everything. The level where you pilot the Batmobile and try to capture Two-Face in his armored car features more destruction than the last three Michael Bay movies.

It’s not all punching and breaking, though. There’s some strategy involved here too. All of the characters can find alternate suits with different abilities — Batman has a”Glider” suit, for instance, Robin has an “electromagnetic” suit, and so on. You need certain suits to open certain doors or activate certain devices. What’s more, once you’ve beaten a level, you can go back in “free play” mode, which allows you to trade off between any of the suits or characters you’ve unlocked and find different items or locations that you couldn’t get to the first time you played the level.

Like I said, I don’t play a lot of video games, but I really had fun with this one… and I’ve really only gone through a sixth of the game. I expect to have a lot of fun playing through the rest.

On a totally unrelated note, I caught Frank Miller’s version of The Spirit last night. In a nutshell… there were some things to like about the movie, but not nearly enough to counter terrible performances by usually-good actors, horrendous dialogue, and a painful disrespect for the history of one of the greatest comic book characters ever created. You can read more details (although mostly spoiler-free ones) at my review at Comixtreme.com.

Hmm. The poster says “My city screams.” Not as much as the fans, Mr. Miller.

3 Responses to “What I’m Playing: LEGO Batman”

  1. 1 synthmon
    December 27, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    That’s funny, I regarded the Spirit as a rather well-shaped little piece. Acting aside, yes, but I thought it was a very good one overall. Although, in the end, our respective reviews appear to have given equal verdict.

  2. 2 Anne
    December 29, 2008 at 11:19 am

    That also happens to be what my 8 yr old is playing.

  3. December 29, 2008 at 11:22 am

    And he’s probably far better at it than I am.

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