Saturday, July 6, 2013

Video Game Review: Lego Batman for Wii

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lots of fun as Batman and Robin save Gotham City
Cons: Vehicles levels not so easy to control
The Bottom Line
Classic comic book
Characters with Lego twist
Makes for tons of fun

Keep the Lego Bricks of Gotham City Safe

I have become addicted to the Lego Wii games.  They are so fun and rather addicting.  If I'm not careful, I'll play by the hour.  I'm also way behind on these releases, so the latest one I've been playing is Lego Batman, which was released several years ago.  (The sequel has just come out in fact.)  It's another fun entry in the series.

Unlike the other games in the Lego series, this one isn't based on one or move movies.  Instead, it tells it's own story (or really stories) as things progress.

There's been a massive break from Arkham Asylum.  (As Alfred points out in the booklet that comes with the game, that place is more porous than a tea strainer.)  All of Batman's most famous foes have managed to get out, and it's up to Batman and Robin to track them down and put them away again.

There are really three stories here, each with its own ultimate villain, Riddler, Penguin, or Joker.  Each story is broken down into 5 levels, and in each of those levels, the main villain of the story teams up with another classic villain to cause mayhem.  As you play through the level, you might defeat one villain or they might both escape to the next level, but eventually you'll round them all up and save the day.

The first time you play through a level, you play in story mode.  You're Batman and Robin (either one person switching off characters as needed or two players cooperating).  To get through the level, you have to defeat any bad guys that come your way (villain or henchman) and solve puzzles to get further in the level.  To help you out, our heroes get various suits that allow them to glide or walk up metal walls, for example.  And, of course, you'll need to collect Lego studs, which earn you points that you can use to redeem for various upgrades in the game.

Once you've beaten a story, you aren't done.  That unlocks the ability to play as the villains.  It's the same story and similar levels, but from the other side.  It's a fun twist to things, and once again you get to collect as many studs as you can as you try to put your evil plot into motion.

So, you've finished all 30 levels (15 as hero and 15 as villain) in story mode?  Great, but you're just getting warmed up.  Now, you can go back through in Free Play and collect power bricks (which give you special abilities) and canisters that are hidden in each level.  You can find some of these in story mode, but to unlock all of them, you need to go through in Free Play and really take the time to explore.  In Free Play, you can switch between any character you've unlocked, and sometimes you need the super strength of mind control ability of one of the villains to reach something, even in the hero levels.  Plus, you have to reach a certain Lego stud point level in each level to achieve true Superhero or Supervillain status.

As you can see, there is lots of do, so you really can play by the hour.  You'll go through each level several times, and with 30 levels, there's more than enough to keep you busy for a while.  That makes the game a great value.

Plus it's just fun to get through the levels.  I love the fact that you can smash and destroy much of what's around you to collect studs.  The puzzles are fun to figure out, although a couple of them can be a little tricky.

The controls are also fairly easy.  You use the Wiimote and the Nunchuk to control the characters.  The joystick on the Nunchuk is how you control the characters, and various buttons make the characters jump of smash or attack and other such things.  Even when I haven't played for a while, it's easy to jump back in because the controls are so easy.  In a fun touch, by pointing the Wiimote at the screen, you can aim where Batman and Robin through their Batarangs.

I also like the fact that you get unlimited lives to complete a level.  You do lose stud points from the Lego studs you've collected along the way, but that's the only penalty.  This means you will get through every level.  You might not do it well, but there is no getting stuck at a certain point and never finishing things.

The graphics are not going to blow away serious gamers, but then again, they shouldn't be expecting that.  Really, we are dealing with animation for a game aimed at kids, and for that the graphics look great.  Likewise, the sound is good for that the game is.  There's background music that can cue you to approaching danger and sound effects as you do things.  Both fit the game well, and that's all that matters.

There are animated cut scenes that help tell the story in each level, and they are a riot.  They make Robin out to be a klutz, and you just can't help but laugh as how much he fails and how Batman reacts.  These scenes just use movement, facial expressions, and grunts to tell the story, but they get the job done.

This is the first time I've played a Lego game with some (before I've played with just one person).  My roommate, who loves Batman, joined me in defeating the villains (or being them).  I loved it.  It gave me someone to talk through the puzzles with. (Which is partially why I found the levels easier than before.  I also knew what I was looking for.)  It's also easier to defeat a band of henchmen since both of you are truly attacking (unlike in solo mode where you have to do it yourself).  I highly recommend playing with a friend if you can.

If there's one frustration in this game for me, it's the vehicles levels.  Each story has one, and I hate them because it's so hard to control the vehicles.  You have to move just right to get them to do what you want.  I must prefer the control I have of moving actual characters around.

But solo or with a friend, I do recommend Lego Batman for Wii.  It's a fun game that you will play for hours on end.

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