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Pre-amble *********** Lego Batman is a Warner Brothers game and is an addition to their Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones games.
The game is designed for ages 7+, as detailed on the box. My 5 year old nephew has played the game, and whilst he managed with most of it, there were some puzzles where he needed a bit of help. Personally, I think some 7 year olds would struggle with parts of this game.
I have been lucky enough to be sent this game from a friend who lives in the good old USA. The official UK release date for Lego Batman is 10 October 2008 and it is available for pre-order through many specialized computer game retailers and other online shops.
Prices for the game vary, and a sample of prices I have found (excluding P&P) are as follows:
The differential in prices is not huge, although based on previous experience, I suspect that retailers offering the game at a lower price will be charging more postage and packaging so the end price will be around the same across all retailers. I cannot confirm this since I have not looked in to the postage costs - since I have no need to.
The above represents a small number of suppliers and I am sure that there are loads more if you trawl through the internet.
Story Line *************
In summary, the criminals of Gotham City have broken out of Arkham Asylum and are set to wreak havoc. It is the "dynamic duos" job to go and defeat them all.
The plot of each criminal is difficult to establish since the story develops as you progress through the game via a cartoon strip.
The cartoon strip is very detailed and the picture quality is great but it doesn't give too much away as there are no speech bubbles on the pictures or spoken words. The only audio is the Batman music which is played on the options screen of the Batman DVD.
All of Gotham City's criminals appear in the game including The Riddler, The Joker, Penguin, Clay Face, Cat Woman, Killer Croc, Two Face, Scare Crow etc and all have got to be defeated.
Playing the game ********************
The game commences in the Bat Cave - where you can change the look of your character, look at game stats etc.
From the Bat Cave the dynamic Duo can venture in to the Wayne Manor building in order to collect gold and silver coins (like in most platform games) in order to accumulate 'Stud' points. I have yet to work out whether the stud points can be exchanged for anything or not. Other than running around, collecting coins and smashing up furniture and paintings (why smash up your own house??) to reveal further coins there is nothing else to do in the Wayne Manor - there are no puzzles to solve or criminals to kill. This seems like a bit of a waste to me.
There are 3 chapters to complete with the head criminal being the Riddler, the Penguine and the Joker respectively. I won't divulge any more than this as I don't want to ruin the game for any buyers.
On the Streets of Gotham the game heats up but only a little bit. There are puzzles to solve and criminals to beat up although the number of criminals is disappointingly low and the game seems focused on puzzle solving to progress to further levels.
In this game you play both Batman and Robin at different stages. Each has their own unique "special powers" which are needed at different times to complete the level.
Batman has the ability to 'float' across large gaps, use a grapple hook to pull himself up buildings, blow things up by laying bombs and endure extremely cold temperatures.
Robin has the ability to walk along a tight rope, travel through heating vents, walk in dangerous green goo, use poles as a climbing aid and walk up vertical metallic walkways with the aid of his magnetic boots.
The special powers are used when special suits are located at different levels.
The game involves collecting stud points, hitting traffic cones, signs, posts etc to reveal more coins, hearts (to increase the number of lives - as in all platform games) and pieces of lego which are then used to build computers, levers, ladders etc.
Once you know what the special powers are and which character to use it is easy to progress and solve the relevant issues to complete the level.
The graphics are actually really good. They are simple, colourful and vivid - just like being in the comic book (except in lego) so I think Warner Bros has achieved what they set out to in this regard.
The controls are very easy to use. The directional pad controls the characters and the buttons are used to jump, build the lego ladders/levers etc, pull levers down and punch the bad guys.
The stylus is only used to pull down levers and drawbridges although this can be done using one of the buttons.
During the game you get to drive the Bat Mobile, which is very difficult to control. In addition the speed increases and it all becomes a bit frenzied. They are pointless levels since all you're doing is chasing the criminal's car, trying to avoid its gunfire and collecting those coins for stud points.
Other than the 'theme' music from the Batman DVD (although I think they producers should have used the music from the cheesy 60's batman episode myself - for those of you old enough to remember) the sound effects are awful. They are limited and, to be quite honest, naff.
The music/sound effects should complement the graphics, but this does not happen in this game. The graphics are superb, the acoustics are naff.
Despite being quite simple, once you know when to use each character and which special power to use, the game is quite addictive at first………….
I found it a novelty running around building different things out of lego (I assume this is the same with the Lego Indiana Jones and the Lego Star Wars? - I haven't played either although this game has made me very curious), collecting coins to become a super stud, aimlessly smash things up etc. but there is only so long that you can do it for.
This game is massive. Overall, I have played for around 23 hours and I have only completed 16.7%. I have not been hanging around and have completed levels fairly rapidly.
I know I won't see this game through to completion which is a shame because I would like to see the final cartoon strip and credits, but I don't have the inclination to finish it.
The Twist ************
This game has another element in that it is possible to play the criminals (from the asylum) and wreak havoc in Gotham City. Whilst this may be seen as a 'bonus' feature I find it pretty pointless. After all, the idea is to be Batman and Robin and defeat the criminals - not be criminals running amok in Gotham City!
Anticipated life *****************
The potential life of this game is several hours…….providing you can deal with the repetition. Unfortunately, I cannot.
All in all this is a good game with some really good aspects and some really bad aspects.
The good points:
1) It's based on Batman 2) All the criminals are in the game 3) Great graphics 4) The 'Lego' theme 5) Long life potential - provided you don't get bored too quickly 6) Good use of a comic strip outlining the story
The bad points:
1) Awful music and sound effects 2) Gets repetitive after a while 3) A bit too simple