Why fo­cus on the bad guys? Be­cause crime plays…

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - REVIEW - @crino­liner­obot

You can ar­gue all you like whether DC or Mar­vel has the best su­per­heroes, but it’s in­dis­putable that DC has the great­est vil­lains. In fact, in all three Lego Bat­man games you spend a large amount of time play­ing as them, be­cause they’re that much fun. Now they’re tak­ing cen­tre stage, as the ‘Jus­tice Syn­di­cate’, evil ver­sions of the he­roes from an­other di­men­sion, ar­rive on Earth and the he­roes dis­ap­pear. But wait: be­fore you get started on the story you have to cre­ate your own vil­lain, choos­ing ev­ery­thing from hairdo and leg colour to a weapon and the look of your su­per­power. (You’ve no choice as to what your power ac­tu­ally is; you gain par­tic­u­lar pow­ers as you need them within the story.) Fed up of wait­ing for a sec­ond Lego City Un­der­cover, we made Chase McCain – well, he could be work­ing un­der­cover again, right?

De­spite the time you put into cre­at­ing your vil­lain, they see sur­pris­ingly lit­tle ac­tion early on. The story fol­lows a for­mat Lego game fans will be fa­mil­iar with: in each level you’re given con­trol of a set group of char­ac­ters – The Joker and Har­ley Quinn climb­ing Gotham Clock Tower, for ex­am­ple – and have to use their skills to solve puz­zles to reach the end. Com­plete a level and you can replay it as of­ten as you like in free play, with which­ever vil­lains and he­roes you’ve un­locked. You’ll want to have at least one more go at each, be­cause you can only col­lect ev­ery bonus-giv­ing red brick, gold brick, and hid­den char­ac­ter in free play.


De­spite the fa­mil­iar set­tings and faces, the story mode isn’t par­tic­u­larly en­gag­ing. Pos­si­bly it’s the thin plot – the char­ac­ters are mem­o­rable, but the sto­ry­line is for­get­table – or the fact that the ar­eas you start in are dark, and the hub ar­eas more phys­i­cally sep­a­rate than Lego City’s dis­tricts, mak­ing mov­ing be­tween them feel less free. The hub ar­eas are also lim­ited. You travel to The­myscira in the story, for ex­am­ple, but can’t go there on foot. The hub doesn’t in­vite ex­plo­ration the way Lego City or Lego Mar­vel Su­per He­roes 2’s mashed-up world does. It’s not till you have to cross the world to Smal­lville, well into the story, that the joy of ex­plo­ration starts to kick in.

The me­chan­ics are also un­likely to hook you in. Pre­vi­ous Lego games have been sim­ple, but this one feels even eas­ier. For ex­am­ple, at one point Solomon Grundy grows a plant, and an­other char­ac­ter has to leap from leaf to leaf to reach the level above. You’d ex­pect to an­gle a thumb­stick while press­ing a but­ton, right? Ex­cept here you just need to press q. Ev­ery time a puz­zle is in­tro­duced that might re­quire a bit of ex­plo­ration to solve, the


game pans across the scene to show you ex­actly where to go and of­ten the spe­cific item you need to de­stroy or use. It might please very young gamers, but it gets dull very quickly for ev­ery­one else.


So what, you’re won­der­ing, will keep you play­ing? The de­tail, which is al­ways en­joy­able to spot. There are ref­er­ences to sit­u­a­tions from DC comics, such as when Poi­son Ivy de­clares Har­ley Quinn can stay with her. DC fans will get the ref­er­ence to their re­la­tion­ship in the comics, but it’ll fly over the heads of younger play­ers. You can go in­side many build­ings, from a Smal­lville café to a Metropo­lis diner to a comic shop and even a cat café. There are things to find and de­stroy, such as bats on Wayne Is­land, posters in Gotham, and sun­flow­ers in Smal­lville (hey, it’s a whole­some place), though there are clues to their lo­ca­tions on the map tabs, which kills the joy of ex­plor­ing.

The voice ac­tors are an­other trea­sure for fans. Mark Hamill voices The Joker, just has he did on telly and in the Arkham games. Clancy Brown re­turns as Lex Luthor – it’s a role he’s voiced in pre­vi­ous Lego games, and TV an­i­ma­tions. John Bar­row­man, who plays Mal­colm Mer­lyn in Ar­row, reprises the role here. Some­times it feels like hear­ing each new ma­jor char­ac­ter’s voice is a big­ger treat than get­ting to play as them. And that’s re­ally the prob­lem: this game is full of won­der­ful char­ac­ter, but lack­ing in plot and chal­lenge. A crim­i­nal waste.


A lot of love has gone into this game. Jokes and nuggets of DC lore are scat­tered through­out – they’re glit­ter­ing lit­tle studs of care and at­ten­tion. Sadly, they don’t build into such a won­der­ful whole. Miriam McDon­ald

It’s the clas­sic Lego setup: swap be­tween the char­ac­ters you’re given and use their skills to solve puz­zles and beat each level.

Be­low Be ex­tra naughty and you be­come a Wanted crim, chased by cops.

Right Avoid rocks, col­lect com­po­nents. These aw­ful ‘puz­zles’ drain your studs.

Above left Mi­nor he­roes and vil­lains set you mis­sions – usu­ally in­cred­i­bly sim­ple.

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