Let’s just call “LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes” what it is - a fanciful and artful epic for kids, and for adults who have never played a “LEGO” video game before.
You portray Batman, Robin and sometimes Superman. They look like blocky Legos. Villains look like blocky Legos, too.
The scope of the game’s Gotham is enormous, on the scale of a “Grand Theft Auto” or a regular “Batman” game, or bigger.
The plot is very comic book: Joker and Lex Luther combine forces against you and the Justice League.
The city (despite being made of Legos) is a gorgeously drawn place of mythical wonder, gritty streets, tall buildings (you scale up them at times) and inside buildings.
The combat is typical “LEGO:” Punch random henchmen and several boss villains, and they shatter into pieces of LEGO.
You also punch furniture, fire hydrants and other things in the city to make them shatter into tiny LEGO pieces. You run your feet over those pieces to collect them, since they are currency, with which you may acquire stuff.
The thing is, I regard “Batman 2” (as I do “LEGO” games generally) as puzzlers, far more so than as presenting occasional fistfights with bad guys.
The routine is, you figure out which Batman super suit to change into to, say, shoot obstacles with bombs. Then you make Robin put on a suit to, say, freeze water into ice. Back and forth - you portray Batman, then Robin, then Batman, then Robin, then Superman - and you do that quickly at the touch of a button, in order to solve puzzles, so you can escape rooms mildly staffed with henchmen.
You can also run around the city’s open-world, solving crime or whatever, a la “Grand Theft Auto.”
Objectively speaking, “LEGO Batman 2” is of superior craftsmanship.
And the dialogue (a first for a “LEGO” game) is legitimately funny, especially when Batman reveals his envy of Superman - while Robin reveals his giggly reverence for Superman. The voice acting made me laugh on purpose.
Subjectively speaking, I’ve played so many “LEGO” games, I wish designers would change two big things in future games:
1) Stop making us punch planters and other dumb things to make them splatter into currency we must collect. Enough, already. Bored now.
2) It’s great that this “LEGO” is a talkie. The script is terrific. But there’s not enough talking. Characters chat mostly during interstitial cinema scenes. If this game had running voice-overs during action gaming, as many games do now, “LEGO Batman 2” would have been unstoppable.
Verdict: It’s a very good, silly, cute, fun and epic game with excellent music from Danny Elfman, John Williams and others - so it’s perfect for kids, “LEGO” newbies and fans of puzzlers.
But I’ve been down this “LEGO” road so frequently, I don’t know how many more Lego picnic tables I want to build for fun.
(“LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes” by Warner Home Video Games retails for $50 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $40 for Wii, Vita, 3DS; $30 for DS - Plays fun enough. Looks great. Challenging. Rated “E 10+” for cartoon violence. Three out of four stars.)
Doug Elfman is an entertainment writer for the Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal. Contact him at DElfman@reviewjournal.com