I have a thing for the Lego series of games, the Lego Star Wars Complete Trilogy was great stuff. I loved it to death and it has given me hours of puerile, kid-like enjoyment. It seems that most of the popular franchises are lining up now to be given a good bricking, and Batman is no exception. Each one of the Lego games manages to deliver something fun and interesting for the novice and experienced gamer, if you can just get past the fact that you might think they're 'kiddy' games.
There's always lots of replayability in the Lego series and Batman is no exception, regardless of the format. I'm not format specific but I have become stupidly addicted to the 'ping' as you unlock a new achievement on the Xbox360. This is about the PS3 version of the game however, and well, you don't want to hear me harp on about how the game stacks up to the 360 or X-Console version. You want to know if it's worth your hard earned cash and will last you a while.
So yeah, it is, plain and simple. The puzzles can be pretty slick and fairly complex at times, they aren't just about putting key-a into lock-b. They require the use of the unlocked characters powers to find a way through to the more lucrative hidden items and in some cases beat the level at all. Each Lego character in the Batman universe has a specific ability and Batman, combined with Robin can find suits (along with suit upgrades) to allow them to accomplish tasks within each themed level.
There are magnetic suits that allow Robin to walk on special floors; Batman can drop bombs in a Demolition suit and so on. It all boils down to using these things in a variety of clever ways to get to the goal. You have the good-old coin-collecting (Lego studs) mechanic that allows you to attain the rank of Super Hero and build a bonus lego construction as you complete levels, these always unlock secret places to explore and the games are very much built on reward.
There are Lego vehicles to build and use to complete objectives, so much hidden crap to find and discover that you'll want to play it for a long time if you're into completing things 100% like I am. (A mark of the good old Lego games)
There are numerous heroes from the Batman Universe, like Nightwing and a plethora of villains. The Riddler, Clayface, Catwoman and many more grace the game. The Joker of course gets his own episode along with the more iconic villains such as the Penguin and there are vehicle based sections that break up the Lego platforming that you'll be used to from the previous Lego games.
Wayne Manor's Batcave provides the hero hub where you'll access hidden areas, secret missions and proper missions. On the flip side, when you've completed a certain amount of the hero story you can enter Arkham Asylum where you can play the villain missions and see the other side of the fence. The great thing with this is that it offers you a different viewpoint on the mission in terms of location, level design and cut-scenes.
Talking of the cut-scenes, this is typical Lego comedy and there are some truly awful jokes here. Of course that doesn't stop a big-kid like me from laughing my arse off at them. The sense of comic timing is what keeps it fresh in my mind; each character has their own unique style that the developers seem to have captured very well in these scenes.
Lego Batman is a good looking game, it's got nice shiny graphics and once again the worlds are a mix of Lego objects and the 3d backgrounds. It's not too hard to navigate around Gotham as you move from roof to roof or bounce around the interior of Mr. Freeze's ice-cream factory. The same problem that plagues the other Lego games is still around regarding 2-player co-op, the camera has a tendency to drag you off into your doom and since you lose studs when you die, it can become quite expensive.
Trying to judge certain jumps in sp or mp has that effect and it's impossible to get the right view most of the time when you add a second player. Fortunately most of the leaps are fairly easy to do.
The level design is solid, the puzzles are varied and the combat is the best in the Lego games yet. There are simple combos and grapple moves, the Batarang is a cool weapon that has a multi-target system to allow you to hit more than one mook or strike an objective switch.
The sound is spot on with the right feel; it brings to life the comic nature of the characters as well as the dark streets of Gotham. There's no voice acting to speak of since as with all Lego games it's done through sounds and expressions to convey the tone of the whole thing.
All in all I think it's one of the better Lego games, still not quite up there with the last Star Wars outing however. Simple controls, fun gameplay marred only by the camera that has always seriously sucked. It's about time the developers actually put a proper camera in these games. Unless of course they're just being lazy and sipping martinis whilst thinking of the next Lego game - Lego Aliens anyone?