It's a Lego game after all then, but there are bright ideas. The rain-slicked streets of Gotham's permanently midnight sandbox is a maze of familiar sights - smash up a plastic giraffe at Gotham Zoo, raise a few issues at city hall, climb to the peak of Wayne Enterprises or take a breather at the Batcave where you can replay missions, scan for more, or fast travel to specific locations (think Assassin's Creed's aqueducts).
It's a world big enough for vehicles like the Batmobile and Batwing, giving this the largest scale of any Lego tie-in to date. Roaring around, as fire from the exhaust ripples the air, is a thrill comparable to Saints Row's Specter hover bike, even if it lacks the creative spark of that particular free roam.
QUICK AS A FLASH
As well as vehicles you can take different characters for a spin. In one seamless move, you can dispatch foes with Wonder Woman's tiara, conjure a giant glowing hammer as Green Lantern, laser-vision the place up as Superman (John Williams' iconic score even kicks in when he takes to the sky), then use Flash to dash off, a glowing red and yellow trail in your wake.
It's a nerd's dream, and makes you wonder why Traveller's Tales didn't just go the whole way with one big superhero collaboration spread over various mid-sized hubs. This instead is Batman's tale, the heroes eclectic but the villains fresh from Arkham Asylum, each giving good in boss fights (Harley's and Killer Croc's are highlights).
The real triumph here, though, is the care, the attention to detail. The visuals are surprisingly sharp, motion blur, depth of field and dynamic shadows giving this a near photorealistic sense of place. One level sees hundreds of Gotham citizens fleeing Two-Face across reflective marble floors. Batman's cape even has cloth physics.
The audio too merits praise. Expressive mimes of past entries, previously limited to grunts and slapstick, are given vocal chords for the first time ever. Bioshock Infinite's Booker DeWitt, Troy Baker, voices Batman (he did Two-Face in Arkham City), and the DC Animated Universe's Clancy Brown reprises his role as Lex Luthor, while John DiMaggio, Jennifer Hale and Claudia Black swell an impressive cast. All this over a score mixing Danny Elfman's 1989 theme with original music.
In the end, then, it's a Lego game as you've come to expect - not deep, demanding or particularly complex, but applying charm with Kryptonite effectiveness through dozens of fully playable, fully voiced superheroes and a puzzle-packed open world.
It doesn't take The Riddler to deduce this isn't for adults. A class act, if simple, trading complexity for good-natured charm
- Fifty superheroes with unique abilities
- Actual voices, and professional voices at that
- Gotham makes a great sandbox
- The difficulty's easy and puzzles are simple.
- It's weak for adults and lone players
- It's still Lego, just on a larger scale