What started out with the Star Wars license has now seen Traveler’s Tales expand its LEGO franchise to Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and comic book giants Marvel and DC. With each new title, further additions have been added to its original formula, and even though LEGO games are cropping up more frequently than ever, Traveler’s Tales always seems to find a way to make them fun and entertaining; their newest addition LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is no exception.
Although the game has Batman in its title, the story doesn’t have much to do with the caped crusader at all. The plot begins with leaders of the different Lanterns: Sinestro, Star Sapphire, Atrocitus, Saint Walker and Larfleeze being lured to a location in space. Thinking that each one lured the other to eliminate them, they begin to fight amongst themselves. In the midst of the battle, Braniac shows up and captures each of the Lantern leaders. Meanwhile, back in Gotham City, Batman and Robin pursue Killer Croc in the sewers. Having escaped the dynamic duo, Killer Croc meets up with The Joker, Cheetah, Firefly, and Soloman Grundy, where along with Lex Luthor, plan to attack the Justice League Watchtower.
After a showdown with the villains, the victorious Justice League is ambushed and attacked by Braniac’s forces at which point the Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, is also kidnapped. With all the Lantern’s and their powers at his disposal, Braniac shrinks the Earth and prepares to bottle it up like he has done with hundreds of cities all over the universe and it’s up to Batman and his team to stop him.
LEGO Batman 3 boasts the largest number of characters in a LEGO game to date. One hundred and fifty characters from across the DC Universe are collectable throughout the game, all of which come with their own abilities and skills, and although it’s fun to play with all the characters, Batman and Robin can select different suits which allow them to use all the abilities of the other heroes in the game, such as being able to fly, shooting laser beams, and using ice cannons to solve many of the games obstacles.
The voice acting is top notch with heavy hitters rounding out the cast of characters. Leading the voice cast is Troy Baker (Batman) Laura Bailey (Wonder Woman) Stephen Amell (Green Arrow) and the stellar voice work of Adam West who portrays himself as a damsel-in-distress throughout the game. Outside of Adam West, other star-studded appearances include Conan O’Brien, Kevin Smith, and Green Lantern, Duck Dodgers, who fans will remember was portrayed by Daffy Duck in the short lived animated series in 2003. It’s just unfortunate that these characters don’t really have a reason to be in the game. Outside of Duck Dodgers, who is actually a Green Lantern, Conan O’Brien just tells you information about the different locations you may visit in the Watchtower.
Where the audio really excels is with some familiar musical scores used throughout the game. When flying with Superman or Wonder Women you will hear great classical tracks from the 1978 Superman movie and the theme from the 1970’s Wonder Woman TV show. These are just a couple of examples of the great fan-service Traveler’s Tales has provided.
As with all LEGO games, players will spend a lot of time hitting and collecting LEGO pieces. Collectibles from characters, red LEGO bricks, gold LEGO bricks, and everything else you can imagine can once again be found in LEGO Batman 3. Outside of the main story missions, which sees players fight through many locations including the WatchTower, the home planets of the Lantern leaders(including Korguar the home of Fear Lantern Sinestro), and Zamaron home of the Love Lanterns; and my personal favorite, the miniaturized Earth. Seeing the small cities of Paris, London, and others were a delight. Running around these cities smashing miniature cars and buildings actually made me feel as if I was a giant stampeding through a city, which was very entertaining
Outside of the story missions, players can partake in freeplay mode where you can swap characters on the fly replaying all the story missions or exploring the seven open Lantern Corps planets in the game. Although it’s nice to have seven open worlds to explore, these planets don’t really hold up compared to Gotham City from LEGO Batman 2 or New York City from LEGO Marvel Super Hero’s. The biggest problem is that they’re just not that entertaining or well designed. The planets themselves are represented as a small round explorable environment. When exploring on foot the planets function just fine, but when flying the controls become erratic and characters begin to fly and turn in the wrong direction especially when trying to rotate the camera at the same time you are trying to control your character midflight.
The game also features a fun mini-game that resembles the PlayStation 4 exclusive Resogun. Throughout the game you take control of a ship or a character such as a Lantern and go into a space shooter on a spherical plain shooting down enemies and collecting different weapon attacks and shields. Another mini game is played when hacking into curtain terminals. When hacking you will find yourself in a Tron-like world with electronic music and blue and red neon lights. In these mini games you solve jumping puzzles, run through mazes, and drive a virtual Batmobile around an obstacle course.
My only major problem with the title is that Traveler’s Tale once again did not include an online multiplayer function to the title. The Split-Screen in LEGO Batman 3 saw the border lines move around the screen depending on where my friend and I were on the screen making it very confusing, and at some points making me feel sick. Thankfully, this split-screen feature can be turned off.
Travelers Tales continue to add additions to the formula to keep it as fresh as it possibly can. The fun, simple gameplay of the LEGO games is intact and the great fan-service to the DC Universe community is commendable. Having seven small open worlds to explore should have been a great step-forward for the franchise; instead it ends up falling short of perfection with bad targeting and camera control issues.