At this point, and after so many LEGO games under their belt, it seems as if developer Traveller’s Tales could be doing this in their sleep if they wanted to. While many might be quick to deride the team for doing much the same thing from game to game without any serious innovation; others, like myself, typically commend them for being able to maintain an impressive level of consistency with their brand of fun and addictive gameplay. It also doesn’t hurt that every once in a while we get a really stellar title from them such as the fantastic LEGO Marvel and LEGO Lord of the Rings and Hobbit games. I think, however, that this might be the biggest problem facing LEGO Batman 3. In the wake of some of Traveller’s Tales best games, their new Batman title seems to be treading water in terms of story, variety, and innovation.
That’s not to say that this is a bad game; it is certainly not. Everything that you have come to love and expect from the LEGO games is present and accounted for. Mashing objects and building ridiculous contraptions is still as fun and satisfying as it has ever been. There’s also over 150 characters to unlock; the most ever for a LEGO game. After the main mission is complete there will also be over 40 hours’ worth of content to plow through and collectibles to hunt down for all those completionists out there. As always, Traveller’s Tales doesn’t skimp on the content and any self-respecting DC fan should find plenty to love with the dizzying amount of characters and references.
The humor, another LEGO staple, is also fully intact. While I didn’t find it as consistently hilarious as some of the previous LEGO titles, there were still a few laugh out loud moments. The heroes dressing up like the villains and trying to pass themselves off as such is one long, funny gag and I was a bit sad when the joke was up. Bruce Wayne pretending to be The Joker was particularly entertaining. The cameos are also entertaining, if not completely out of left field. For some reason Conan O’Brien plays a rather big part and while I have heard some complaining about his involvement, I found his brand of sarcasm consistently humorous.
With all the staples of the LEGO brand of games intact, it’s indeed strange that I found the product on a whole marginally more than mediocre. Some of the cooler additions to some of the recent LEGO games have gone missing in this one and in some ways it seems like a bit of a step back. The story is also not the strongest that we’ve gotten out of this development team either. I like how they incorporated all of the different Lanterns and played off of their distinctions, but the narrative never seemed completely focused and as a result the story seems a bit scattered and imbalanced in spots.
The environments are also not especially intriguing. In LEGO Marvel Super Heroes we were treated to a huge New York City overworld to run around in and each of the story missions took place in iconic places from the comics. There was variety around every corner. In LEGO Batman 3 however, most of your missions take place either on an enormous space station or any of the various Lantern home planets. In both cases every level seems as if it’s just a re-skinned version of the one that came before. The gameplay in these levels is still fun, but the backgrounds just aren’t as fun to look at.
With all that being said, if you, like me, loved the past LEGO games then you’ll find something to enjoy here. There is still plenty of fun to be had, such as rescuing a fully voiced Adam West from every level. No matter how much I enjoy the core formula though, I could never shake the feeling that this title was, while competent, still a bit of a stop-gap between Traveller’s Tales better games of the past and those to come.