Batman is back in brick form kids and he’s come to Sony’s new handheld. Bruce Wayne has won man of the year in Gotham and Lex Luthor ain’t happy about it. Teaming up with the Joker, the pair attempt to take out Gotham, so Batman and Robin have to team up with Superman to take them down (as well as other Justice League members as you get to them, though that’s not until quite late in the game). The story is actually quite eventful, with attacks on the Batcave, some great back and forths between Bats and Supes and a whole lot of fun is to be taken from the Lego collecting adventure, especially now that it has voices for its characters too (Clancy Brown as Lex – Bonus!).
Straight off the bat (chuckle) this isn’t the big sandbox, puzzle, brawling and general expansion the big daddy version of this game is on the X Box and PS3. This handheld version of LEGO Batman 2 keeps it basic and goes for the simple level by level approach like LEGO games did back with the Star Wars titles that launched the franchise.
At this stage I’ve not played the big daddy version of LEGO Batman 2 (our review will land in a couple of days) on the consoles but my stance on LEGO games is that what is included here on Vita is all I want from the little brick men and woman running around. Having played all of the LEGO games, I have to say it’s the expansions that have killed my enjoyment of the once fun little franchise. Wandering around Hogwarts for pointless hours, flitting between starships and making a meal of the between levels locations bored the crap out of me. I want the game, split into accessible levels and areas where I can go to buy other characters, somewhere to make my own characters, and somewhere to view my collectables. And I want more available extras to appear as I collect more, to make subsequent play-throughs more enjoyable.
Happily the Vita version of the game includes all of those elements, simply housed in the Batcave. If I want something extra, I go and get it. If I want to go to a certain level, I don’t have to go halfway across the world to do it. LEGO game + simple set up = Enjoyment.
All that tick the box simplicity is all well and good but unfortunately, and pretty much from the moment you start the game the presentation here is lousy. It’s not the game as such (though the menus are pretty dull), it’s the cut away sequences that are chiefly at fault. The cut-away scenes are similar to the experience of watching a VHS having become accustomed to HD, if not actually worse – fuzzy, blurry, and so undefined it’s almost a crime (see below). Some cutaways don’t even have costumes that are available in the game itself, so across the board this is a mess of a conversion presentation wise.
The game itself fairs way better. Simple LEGO designs look great on the Vita screen and little effects like shock waves after a punch or shaking screens during an explosion work very well. It’s all very simple but there’s little to complain about. Gameplay is typical of LEGO games – governed by the same controls – jump, punch, push ‘O’ for your special ability etc. With the new characters, new abilities come into play though: Superman comes with heat vision and freeze breath too, so there’s a slight change of pace there but nothing all that exciting. As for the Vita controls the front screen can be used to aim Bat-a-rangs, which is a nice touch albeit one that isn’t always 100% successful. You might find yourself tapping to activate the targeting with no effect and then tapping again to actually make the target appear before you can drag it to your desired location. It’s not a fatal error by any means, but it is mildly frustrating.
The Vita version of LEGO Batman 2 is a LEGO game more in tune with the original Star Wars instalments of the franchise: you play the game, you finish the game, you replay the game until you can unlock every unlockable and collect every collectable. It’s to the point and though there will be those who want more from a LEGO game, I for one don’t. So, despite the simple approach and the simply awful cut-away presentations, this Vita version of LEGO Batman 2 offered the same easy-to-play, chucklesome collectable-based fun that the series was originally built on.
In short, LEGO games are the games I like pissing time away with between the “games that count”, and the more intricate they’ve become the less they’ve felt like fun, so even if this Vita version is a stripped down conversion of the console version, for my tastes that’s a good thing.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is available to buy now on PS Vita. You can follow all of our LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes coverage by heading over to our dedicated LEGO Batman 2 hub-page, where you can find information, trailers, features and screenshots.