The gameplay behind Lego Batman is the same as any other Lego game from Traveller’s Tales, to be honest. If you’ve played Lego Indiana Jones or any of the multiple Lego Star Wars games, then you pretty much know what to expect.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Lego Insert Franchise Here mould though, then we’ll briefly explain.
Lego Batman is essentially a 3D platformer built around a hub-centric level system. As the game starts you, playing both Batman and Robin, are plunged into your first mission to defeat Clayface and must launch an attack on Gotham Bank.
The levels are mainly linear the first time you play them and you’ll have to spend a good deal of time switching abilities and characters to make your way through the three scenes that form the first level.
Mission complete, you’re promptly plomped back into the Batcave and it’s here that the true, hardcore appeal of the game is opened up. Once in the Batcave you can tackle the three separate campaigns in any order, first in Story Mode where you characters and abilities are preset to fit a plot, then in Free Play where you can choose what characters you want.
The option to choose your characters may seem stupid at first – why play a level again anyway, right? Well, the answer is simple: Collectibles.
Not all characters in the game have the same set of abilities and special moves, though there is a fair deal of overlap. Batman and Robin are great all rounders, but neither of the heroes are super-powered and therefore can’t heft dumpsters over their heads, use whips or brainwash enemies.
If you want to open up hidden areas and harvest all the collectibles, you’ll need to replay levels twice at least with different characters.
As always, there are items aplenty to collect too. Every move you make will litter the levels in Lego studs for you to spend on unlocking extras, cheats and tips from within the Batcave or Asylum (more on that in a minute). Then there’s the mini-kits and special bricks that can be put together to form new items.
Expect to be doing a lot of building too – there are plenty of puzzles in Lego Batman and while none of them will stump you for aeons, you’d be over-confident if you didn’t anticipate at least momentary bafflement on a regular basis.
Where the game starts to differ from its predecessors though is in the details and how exactly the characters can play. In Lego Indy for example, the characters were pretty much set from their selection and there was no option to swap their powers later on. In Lego Batman though that isn’t entirely true and Batman and Robin can (and must) swap powers on a regular basis by changing their suits.
Swapping suits however is handled a little ham-handedly and, though Lego Batman is a world that doesn’t really have to actually make sense in the strictest sense the idea that Batman and Robin have hidden special suit-changer machines around Gotham is enough to break the suspension of disbelief for us.
Worse still, each platform only ever lets either Batman or Robin change into one other outfit. This, combined with the linear nature of the levels, means that a chance at making deeper puzzles is pointlessly discarded. Instead of having to figure out that Batman will need his Sonic Suit or Robin will need his Tech Suit to progress, the game just throws the correct suit at you usually before you’ve even found out a puzzle was supposed to be there.