Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes - Lego's best yet in Gotham City

Just when I thought I was out, they ... Pull. Me. Back. In.

 

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

From: Traveller's Tales

For: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Vita, Wii, DS

Forgive the Godfather reference in a review of a Lego video game but it nicely sums up my feelings after playing - and enjoying much more than I expected - this sequel.

You see, there was a time when Lego games and me were fast friends. Sure, they were technically designed for the kids, but the addictive gameplay and subtle humour kept the older generation of gamers busy as well.

Lego Star Wars?

Superb. Lego Batman?

Magnificent. Lego Indy?

Perhaps the best of the lot.

Then somehow, the series started to lose some of its lustre.

The first Lego Harry Potter was OK but the second was a little disappointing. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean was only good in patches. And Lego Star Wars 3 (that fake Clone Wars rubbish) was painful.

Was that the end of the affair?

Had Lego games done their bricks, er, chips?

I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering if the formulaic nature of the Lego games had proved their undoing.

Super Heroes to the rescue.

Lego Batman 2 is a magnificent revival of the series. It retains the familiar approach (bash and collect bricks as currency, build structures, unlock characters, switch between them to solve puzzles/fight enemies) and injects it with some genuinely fresh material.

Batman's name is in the title but it should probably read "Batman and friends". Right from the start, you get to step into other shoes (first Robin, then Superman) as you take on the Joker, the Riddler and the other evil dudes.

Other playable characters - the Green Lantern, the Flash and others - can eventually be unlocked, too.

A broad selection of meaty story levels provides hours of absorbing and enjoyable gameplay.

As in the first Batman, there are "suits" to provide variety to the game, with the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder each able to embrace extra powers depending on their garb.

But while that sort of stuff is all very familiar, there are two new elements within the game that are genuinely exciting.

One is relatively minor - you can save your game in the middle of a level - but the other is a massive change.

For the first time in the Lego series, the main characters can (gasp) talk. Yes, the days of the mute pantomiming are gone, though none of the humour is lost.

Lego Batman 2 has huge replay value, with each of the levels needing to be replayed in "free play" to gather up all the unlockables.

Also, the hub of the game is Gotham City, a huge open-world setting that could have been a game in itself. It needs to be uncovered and explored, with bricks and villains and vehicles hidden all over the place.

There are still minor imperfections with the game.

Partner AI is sometimes frustrating, and Superman's all-round abilities are occasionally overshadowed by his clunky flying mechanics.

But here's my opinion: this is the best Lego game ever made.

Young or old, a fan of the DC comics or not - all will enjoy it.