So it turns out that LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is both aptly and misleadingly named at the same time. It's yet another in the popular series of LEGO videogames, this time teaming Batman and Robin with the other members of the Justice League... but not right away. That doesn't stop the game from being a whole lot of fun, though!
Available for every system under the sun, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes pits Batman and Robin against the Joker, but when the Clown Prince of Crime is recruited by Lex Luthor, things start to spiral out of control, and eventually, Batman is forced to accept the help of Superman, and later the other members of the Justice League. Unfortunately, Superman doesn't even pop by for a quick cutscene cameo until a few levels in, and then it's even a few more levels before he becomes a playable character. And Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Cyborg don't show up until the last couple levels. So if you're looking for a game where you play as all the members of the Justice League, this isn't quite it. (At least not yet there's a tease for a sequel at the very end which would seem to indicate a LEGO Justice League might be next up)
Graphics look great, but by now, that's to be expected. Impressively, the hub area is actually an impressively detailed expanse of Gotham City, overrun with marauding henchmen and panicked citizens as well as gobs of secrets. After completing the story mode, you can then use the unlocked heroes to explore every nook and cranny of Gotham to unlock the rest of the Justice League, including Hawkman, Aquaman, and various assorted villains. Sound is where things get interesting in LEGO Batman 2 because for the first time, the characters are given voices. This is because instead of adapting a familiar story that could be told through pantomime, the developers need to be able to explain what's actually going on through dialogue. Thankfully, after the initial weirdness, it feels pretty natural, and the voice acting is good. Also, there are some really funny bits, like Batman's grouchy reluctance to accept an overly-cheerful Superman's help. Oh, and as well as continuing to use the classic Danny Elfman theme for Batman, the game also tosses in the iconic John Williams theme from Superman: The Movie whenever the Last Son of Krypton shows up! (That really appealed to my inner geek.)
Gameplay is pretty standard for the LEGO series. You smash everything you can to collect the little LEGO studs, use your characters' various abilities (Batarangs, heat vision, power ring, etc) to solve puzzles, and work your way through the various levels and defeating the bad guys. Being able to fly is a new one, and actually controls pretty well for the most part. I did notice a couple of minor bugs here and there as I played through, though. Twice, I found myself unable to trigger the next story level until I either restarted the game or returned to the Batcave to start over. And one time, I missed the chance to attain Super Hero status on the level because Batman got stuck in a nearly infinite loop of falling to his death. I couldn't swap to Superman, and didn't regain control of Bats until after he'd lost most of his studs. But they were minor bugs that weren't exactly game-breaking.
If you're a fan of the LEGO games like I am, then LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is probably an obvious get. But if you're not a fan of the LEGO games, but just the DC heroes, you should still check it out, because the LEGO games are lots of fun and really easy to pick up and play. They're forgiving enough that children can play them, but there's enough unlockable secret content that adults can still find it challenging to collect everything. Heck, after finishing story mode, I was informed that I was only 22.3% done with the game! That's not even one-quarter of all the content! I do wish that the DC Super Heroes had actually been in the game more, since that's what I was led to expect from the advertising and the title of the game, but it was still a fun ride, and hopefully they'll follow up on that tease and LEGO Justice League is on the horizon!
A copy of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes for Xbox 360 was provided for the purposes of the review. Story mode was played through to completion.