LEGO Batman: The Videogame Preview (PS3)

Fresh off the success of their Lego Indiana Jones title, British-based developer Traveller’s Tales has returned with a ‘lego-ised’ version of another franchise: Batman.

Taking over the small yet sophisticated Rex cinema-bar in London, a small collection of developers and PR agents gathered together to show those of us who were too poor to go to E3 the progress this game is making. And it’s making a lot of progress.

Carrying on the strengths of the original Lego Batman is looking slick. Considering it’s basically a 3-Dimensional representation of a Danish building block, the graphics are looking pretty slick. The same engine that was in Lego Star Wars II is still present, and it renders the immediate environment quite well. Despite this game having a supposed ‘darker’ tone to the previous games, everything is done in bright colours, giving off a more comic feel.

The Gameplay is very cooperative based, with you and one other hero or villain making your way through the level, using each characters unique strengths and abilities to complete objectives. The ‘other guy’ is controlled by either an AI, or a friend who can jump in and out of the level at will. The AI seems competent enough, however since the event was packed full of journalists, everyone was pretty much playing with someone else, including me. This will be a ‘make or break’ point for the game, because if the AI isn’t up to scratch, then it could kill the game completely.

With a total of 15 rumoured villains, and 7 heroes, there’s going to be a lot of co-op play just so they can all get some screen time. No news as to what the final line up is going to be yet, but most of the 22 named so far have been confirmed through either interviews or demo's.

The code that was on offer had a level featuring the Joker and Harley Quinn. Gameplay generally revolves around puzzles, and about helping each other get trough the level. Typically, Player 1 opens a door for Player 2, who then lowers a bridge for Player 1. Boss battles also feature in the game, and again you have to work together in order to defeat the ‘big bad’. As mentioned before, you can play as either heroes or villains, and there are 15 confirmed levels for each side.

Controls seem simply enough; one button for jumping, one button for attacking. There are two types of attack in this game, ranged and mêlée. The ‘attack’ button handles both, and it automatically switches between the two modes depending on distance. The Camera works as well as it should, provided that the two players stay relatively close to each other. Some lee-way is allowed if you need to go and do separate tasks, but stray too far away from each other and you’re movement is locked. There was more then one occasion where me and my partner found ourselves trapped because not only were we too far away from each other, and so couldn’t move, we were also wedged against the side of a building.

Whilst the game’s story is completely original, so follows neither the film nor the comics, the ‘artistic style’ makes it feel like you’re playing out a seen from that animated TV series we all loved way back when we were kids. Specific details of the story have been kept under wraps, but the general outline is known: Criminals have broken out of Arkham Asylum, and they have split into three groups, each being led by a pair of well-known villains. Naturally it’s up to Batman and his side kick to save the day. If the previous games are anything to go by, this title will have a light-hearted yet well thought out story line, with interspersed comic relief sections to make this game suitable for a wide range of audiences.

Whilst many of the reported features were not available for testing, the game is also supposed to include different suits and gadgets, along with a number of vehicles that can be used in both normal and special ‘vehicle’ levels. The only vehicles on offer during the demo were a police car which you can steal, and an ice cream truck. You can only have one person in a vehicle as far as we can tell, and since there is a lot of obstacles their purpose is unclear, but maybe the full game will have a bit more flexibility.

All in all, so far so good. As a game there has never really been much to the Lego franchise, but this title looks to carry on the fun and friendly motif, even if it has a ‘darker’ theme about it. Provided the rest of the game is up to scratch, this should be a worthy addition to the franchise. Lego: Batman is due out on all platforms, including the handhelds. No news on how, if at all, each version will differ, but it’s expected that the hand-held versions will be adapted to suit the platform. We were given a provisional release date of October 10th, but not even the Developers were sure on that one. Stay tuned.


By Dtesh (SI Member) on Aug 01, 2008
strange game.... :)
By Florentin (SI Veteran Member) on Sep 17, 2008
ok, what's with the graphics?
is this for four-year-olds?
are they targeting very young children?