Once thought to be a crazy idea, Traveller’s Tales has made a name for themselves with their line of LEGO inspired video games based on licensed properties such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Taking one of the most popular fictional characters of all and combining him with this line seemed like a match made in heaven, which led to the release of LEGO Batman: The Videogame in 2007. Now comes the latest entry in the series with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, that while not a pioneer, is a true love letter to the most hardcore of DC Comics fans.
Starting with a more intimate setting than was found in the first LEGO Batman, the sequel expanded to include many other DC Comics heroes and villains. However, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham takes it to an entirely new level by providing an astounding number of playable characters, over 150 total, from a variety of different DC sources. With so many to choose from, there is a very likely chance that everyone can find his or her favorite somewhere in the game.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is also chocked full of of real-life cameos, including Adam West. He shows up in the game as what is essentially a damsel in distress, hidden on each stage that the player can find and rescue. Perhaps one of the more surprising inclusions is Conan O’Brien, but even that works particularly well here. In addition, there are six DLC packs lined up that will add even more to the game over the next couple months, including a pack based on the Arrow television series and Man of Steel movie.
Considering that spoken dialogue was not even a part of the LEGO game series until LEGO Batman 2, one could easily assume that the story in such a game would be nothing but superfluous. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham takes advantage of the company’s rich history and offers a well crafted story that is not only for kids, but also longtime DC fans.
While Batman is the namesake of the game, surprisingly Robin is as much of a protagonist as the Dark Knight himself. This choice is to great advantage, as Robin is easily the heart and soul of the game. Younger gamers will appreciate his childlike nature, which is made even better by his voice actor’s excellent comedic timing.
Between the real-life cameos and the characters themselves, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham truly shines through with its humor. Whether it is a simple one liner or dialogue between characters, this game will often leave the player in stitches. The game even makes fun of the absolutely awful Batman & Robin movie, by having Mr. Freeze only talk in terrible puns, as in the movie. Characters like Bat-Mite may become pretty grating with his repetitive tutorials after awhile, but he is still bound to make the younger audience laugh.
LEGO Batman 3 is not only genuinely funny, but also incredibly self aware. One of the best examples of this comes from a line spoken by Batman, where he says “No one makes a toy out of Batman.” The game also utilizes the Batman 1966 theme in some unique ways, including being used as a method to defeat a boss. Traveller’s Tales knew exactly what kind of audience to target here and did so exceptionally well.
The settings found in the game are greatly inspired by comic locations, along with some other original stages as well. The iconic locations like the Batcave and Watchtower look great in the main areas, but end up feeling relatively standard in the ancillary rooms, as many of them begin to blur together.
The Batman 1966 theme is far from the only classic theme used, as the game’s music is an absolute dream for DC Comics fans. The game makes great use of a version of the classic Danny Elfman theme from Batman and Batman: The Animated Series. In fact, the theme goes perfectly with the LEGO recreation of the timeless animated series opening before the game even starts. John Williams’ Superman theme along with a remix of the Wonder Woman TV series’ theme are only the beginning of an overall exceptional soundtrack for the game.
Combat has always been pretty monotonous and repetitive throughout Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO Games, which is mostly the case again in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. However, there are a few added nuances this time around, specifically involving the game’s suit system. In the previous game, certain characters had alternate suits that could be used, but each was limited to one per mission. This system has been completely overhauled in the latest entry, by allowing certain characters to carry a number of suits that can be switched between at will, almost similar to the Mega Man power-up system. These are far from alternate costume skins, but rather suits with special abilities that must be used throughout the stages to continue forward.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham stays true to its title by going beyond what has been offered by the series prior
While characters like Batman, Robin, and Cyborg may have a number of different suits to switch between, others have special abilities that replace the costume changes. For instance, Martian Manhunter is able to transform into his much larger Martian form rather than having an array of costumes to switch between. The various options at the player’s disposal certainly mix up the puzzle solving, but is partially hindered by the time wasting suit change animation for every single suit switch. After the initial change for each, there is absolutely no need for this.
With the number of characters and suits at the player’s disposal, switching between characters is vital with the abundance of puzzle solving found throughout the game. However, this can prove to be a major issue when using more than two characters. It often becomes a game of hitting triangle until the right one is highlighted, as trying to aim directionally does not work most of the time. When in stages with upwards of five controllable characters, this can get extremely frustrating for the player. A simple hotkey system, akin to the one used by the suit changes, would have made this so much more efficient and easy to handle.
One trend that has plagued Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO titles ever since the beginning is the extremely simple difficulty level. The game does include plenty of fairly complicated puzzles to solve, but it is near impossible to die. Every time a character is defeated, he or she instantly respawns almost like nothing even happened. While perfect for kids, this may be a problem for the older gamers who want to play, as there is a total lack of urgency or skill level required.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham stays true to its title by going beyond what has been offered by the series prior. The general combat is mostly the same repetitive button mashing, but a more in-depth suit system and an eye-popping number of playable characters helps to alleviate this concern. From the varied use of classic DC music to a story full of humor that seems like it has been ripped straight from the pages of a comic book, the third entry in the series is perfect for both children and longtime fans of not only Batman, but DC Comics as a whole.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
- Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita, 3DS, PC
- Published By: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Developed By: Traveller's Tales
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- US Release Date: November 11th, 2014
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Bigger and better than ever, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham serves as a massive love letter to lifelong DC Comics fans."