So I thought I could just swing by the Children's Museum of Manhattan for the special hands-on preview event for LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, play a little bit of the game, get some questions answered, and be on my way. What was I thinking? I'd forgotten how the LEGO games bring out the worst of my videogame OCD...
LEGO Batman 2 starts off with Batman and Robin foiling a bunch of their rogue's gallery, and then a prolonged battle against the Joker again, but then Superman flies by to say hi, and that's when things get interesting. The game will feature over 50 playable characters, and this time, in addition to Batman's cast of allies and enemies, you've got a whole bunch of the Justice League in attendance. You know, folks like Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman (and Hawkgirl), Black Canary, Martian Manhunter... and more! See, Lex Luthor decides to team up with Joker, which means it's going to take a lot more than Batman to get the job done this time!
I basically started out playing the full game from the start, and immediately you'll notice one of the biggest changes in the LEGO franchise: they speak! Yes, there is full voice acting for the characters this time around. (Clancy Brown voices Lex, as he did in the animated series, but don't look for Mark Hamill as the Joker or Kevin Conroy as Batman) It's initially off-putting, but it doesn't change the real appeal of the game, which is (to me, anyway) smashing everything you can and collecting all of those tiny little LEGO pieces! The reason for this change is that while Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Harry Potter have established stories, Batman does not, and with the first Batman, Traveller's Tales worried that the story wasn't entirely clear being told through LEGO gestures. I would argue that it was just fine, but I can't fault them for making sure their storytelling is crystal clear by giving voices to the characters.
I played as Batman and Robin for three story levels, and it was pretty much what you'd expect from a LEGO game. Smash things, solve basic puzzles to get to seemingly unreachable areas, and collect stuff. Lots of stuff. There's some new suits which give them new abilities, but it was mostly the same. Although I will say that the camera angle during a rooftop scene in the second level gave me serious vertigo, something that's never happened in a game before. After dispatching the Joker at the end of the third level, Superman swung by, and I couldn't take it anymore. So they unlocked everything for me. And I mean everything.
The hub level in LEGO Batman 2 isn't the Batcave, it's a wide-open explorable Gotham City, and it's huge (The Batcave is just one small section of it). I flew around it for a while as Hawkman, and it was pretty cool. Although running as The Flash is even cooler, because of the speed lines and blur. Everyone's got their own powers. Hawkman smashes with his mace, Wonder Woman whips her golden lasso and throws her tiara, Black Canary has a couple different canary cries, and Cyborg shoots lasers. It's almost too much fun.
I was suitably impressed by what I saw, and could've stayed there even longer. I mean, I was there for well over an hour playing the game... I wonder how long I would've had to stay before they said something. The event was scheduled to go for four hours... I guess they would've kicked me out when they had to close up shop! But what I saw has me excited, and any fellow DC Comics nerds out there should also get ready to check this one out. (By the way, they're obviously in modern, but still classic costumes none of this New 52 stuff here!) LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is set ot release June 19 in North America and June 27 in Europe for the PC, PS3, 360, Vita, 3DS, Wii and DS. (So just about all of them, really!)