ego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is an exciting and colourful game that provides hours of entertainment and will appeal to both comic book fans and gamers alike. By making good use of it’s source material and providing more than enough heroes and villains to play as, players should find themselves spoilt for choice with the large roster available.
Looking forward to this game for quite some time my expectations of the game and the direction in which I could see the series taking as it moved forward was met within my first hour of playthrough. And while the game is without a doubt a fantastic addition to the super hero-based Lego games, it isn’t without it’s few sections of faults and annoyances.
During my time with the game there was something of particular interest that stood out to me, and I feel it many others will come to witness it too. It’s also something I came to realise during my time with Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, and it presents an interesting dilemma for possible games in the future. Why is the Batman name still a primary focus in the DC Super Heroes series of Lego games?
Copyright issues aside I couldn’t help but feel that the Batman name was rather irrelevant and the game should have been named something else. The focus of Lego Batman 3 is no longer Batman as it incorporates a variety more of the characters from the DC universe, as did Lego Batman 2 although to a lesser extent.
"Why is the Batman name still a primary focus in the DC Super Hero series of Lego games?"
It feels as if the game is leeching from Batman’s past ten years of fame and attention that has existed through every form of media entertainment. That being film, television, and books, not just video games. Frankly it feels rather desaturated, and the inevitable rubber band effect that’s going go take place should the series keep going after the release of Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight, I feel is going to be a large one indeed.
We all remember the years of desperate milking that took place with the zombie genre right? Well I sure do and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had enough zombies. As exciting as the thought may be for another studio such as Telltale Games putting their own twist on the Batman franchise, I’m pleased to say I’ve had my fill.
Upon entering the game my initial thoughts of about the Lego Batman games were further strengthened. Introducing itself through a cut-scene with Batman nowhere to be seen and the attention being placed on a group of lesser known characters, my thoughts on the game’s title in regards to what was taking place on screen remained in conflict with me for my entire playthrough of the game.
Look at things this way. The game is called Lego Batman 3 and Braniac is the primary villain. Not Lego Superman, Lego Batman. While you do play as Batman for a large portion of the game this also feels in conflict with the amount of time being given to the other characters of the game, as you’re greatly encouraged to play with them.
"Frankly it feels rather desaturated, and the inevitable rubber band effect that's going go take place should the series keep going after the release of Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Knight, I feel is going to be a large one indeed."
Due to the mission structure and story of the game, which has you switching between different characters for their use of abilities in overcoming obstacles and enemies. Playing as Batman felt as if I was doing so due to the name’s sake of what it says on the title screen. As harsh as it sounds and I imagine fans of the caped crusader undergoing a fit as they read this. Batman didn’t need to be the spotlight of the game.
As touched upon previously I’m not aware of the copyright issues and naming rights that may possibly be going on with the DC characters and Warner Brother Studios. But if you put all that to one side and look at things with something I like to refer to as common-sense, in a perfect world this game would have been called Lego DC Universe.
While none of these issues present an adverse effect on gameplay it was something I couldn’t overlook. And after accepting the fact the game clearly has an identity issue which took the route of trying to play it safe, rather than taking a risk by going with another name. The experience I had with the game was one of the best I’ve had with a Lego game in quite some time.
The game’s storyline does a great job of balancing humour with action through both the cut-scenes and it’s gameplay. Characters throw insults and jokes as the player progresses through its missions, and each one is very well presented in terms of how fans know them to behave. As the plot revolves around Braniac attempting to seek control of the entire universe using the power of the Lantern Corps.
"Characters throw insults and jokes as the player progresses through its missions, and each one is very well presented in terms of how fans know them to behave."
Players can expect to find themselves chasing the notorious villain around various locations on earth as well as those popular to the franchise. The game takes place across variety of locations including France, England, and Italy, to the Watchtower, space, and the planet Odym.
While I do wish the game utilized more locations from its source material the main issue that presents itself within its level design, was the decision to do away with the free roaming open-world aspect that was introduced in Lego Batman 2. The levels that the game does provide however are interesting and are detailed enough to represent the material they’re based on, as well as the artist’s vision.
Graphical details such a lighting, shadows, and texture work all look superb and do well in delivering an impressive and immersive world, and the game supports any resolution to that of player’s TV or monitor. While I generally despise the integration of motion blur, thankfully this is an optional choice listed on the game’s short listed graphical menu.
Depth of field, shadows, anti-aliasing, and a few others remain at their basics with no real depth or expandability to them, and given the game’s basic graphical fidelity it should run well across a variety of systems. Even those on the low-end should have no trouble running the game at its maximum settings with the standard frame rate. That being sixty.
"While I generally despise the integration of motion blur, thankfully this is an optional choice listed on the game's short listed graphical menu."
The gameplay itself is for the most part identical to the previous Lego games and the core mechanics of what makes this a Lego game remains the same. Breaking objects within the environments and defeating enemies earns the player skill points and pieces of Lego that can be used to construct devices, in order to progress through the level and defeat the game’s bosses.
Combat works on a basis of simplicity with the character’s powers and abilities being the distinction between them. For example, Batman can throw his Batarang, Plastic Man can morph in to obscene shapes, and Green Lantern will use his ring to create different weapons and constructs.
Each character varies enough within their own set of powers and this means switching between them provides just enough variety to deliver a different gameplay experience to keep the player entertained. Working as a small group of heroes which can be swapped out at any time, while partnering with an additional player locally makes each battle even more enjoyable.
Given the large number of characters to choose from this gives the game some depth. Lego Batman 3 is an obvious comeback to Lego Marvel Super Heroes and while it will always remain debatable amongst fans as to which line of comic books is “Better” than the other.
As players progress through the game they’ll unlock character suits, be it through the means of story purposes or environmental puzzles. These contain abilities that will aid in combat and mission progression such as swimming under water, crafting explosive weapons, building objects and so on. One of the first suits available to the player is Batman’s stealth suit which allows him to be rendered invisible, as well as taking a nod at the Arkham series of games by featuring a more simplistic iteration of detective mode.
"As players progress through the game they'll unlock a selection character suits, be it through the means of story purposes or environmental puzzles."
The amount of characters and suits available to use in the game is plenty. And as they unlock by the means of progression and can be used even when they’re not even required to, it makes gameplay and experimentation all the more enjoyable. What stops the addition of suits in the game from feeling pointless and thrown in even if some of them are terrible in design, is that they provide purpose within the actual gameplay and demonstrate creativity.
Several Villains that make their way in to the game are those most popular to the franchise. Those such as Lex Luthor, Cheetah, the overused Joker, as well as Sinestro, all have their fair share of the spotlight. Lesser known characters such as Killer Moth, Arkillo and Heat Wave are also playable characters. And if this wasn’t satisfying enough, on the Hero side of things players are also able to experience the game as Alfred Pennyworth using dishes and high-tech gadgets to defeat thugs and crooks.
There were unfortunately a few things in the game that I felt actually degraded the quality of the game, those of which I feel should have never been even considered. While my personal gripes on Adam West’s iteration of Batman will forever remain a petrifying childhood horror, that sits on my top ten list of “Things I hate”, which is one place above Star Wars Episode 3.
Unfortunately I can’t really hold anything against the game for featuring him, and for some strange and ridiculous reason there are people out there who do actually like the Adam West Batman. Other daft anomalies such as Conan ‘O Brian in the Batcave and Daffy Duck in a Green Lantern suit did in some ways break my experience with the game. It feels like shoe-horned in content that the developers forgot to charge you for, even if Conan ‘O Brian does have his moments within the game’s storyline.
"And if this wasn't satisfying enough, on the Hero side of things players are also able to experience the game as Alfred Pennyworth using dishes and high-tech gadgets to defeat thugs and crooks."
Other brief moments of irregularities in the game come in the form of failing to make any sense in regards to the lore of the comic books. During an earlier section of the game in which you must navigate your way through the Batcave, Batman and Robin are unable to access a secured area of the cave, without first changing into Batman’s stealth suite in order to remain undetected by the security camera.
This served no purpose in terms of gameplay whatsoever nor did it make any sense to the character. Would The Green Lantern ask permission to use his ring each time he placed upon his finger?
Making sense of the character when dealing with such an important franchise is crucial when attempting to please the fans. Especially ones that will go to war on Twitter when ever they hear a movie studio is making adjustments to the background of their most beloved character.
Another issue I came across and this was before I even started the game was the absence of gamepad support in both the game and the main menu. Having to map each button manually to the corresponding movements and actions, with no default configuration already available feels quite stupid to say the least. Better yet it’s irresponsible.
Had the mouse and keyboard configuration been acceptable it wouldn’t have been much of an issue. But as that’s also a disaster and button remapping is highly recommended, with so few controls to deal with, why this wasn’t pre-configured is beyond me. As far as the controls actually function it feels solid, responsive, and easy to handle. This is a Lego game and with that being said players should know what they’re getting themselves in to.
"Having to map each button manually to the corresponding movements and actions, with no default configuration already available feels quite stupid to say the least. Better yet it's irresponsible."
Buttons are divided between attacking, interacting, switching characters, and jumping. The Lego games have always followed the exact same formula in both it’s gameplay mechanics and it’s control scheme, and Lego Batman 3 is no different.
For players hoping the game would expand upon it’s formula better prepare themselves for disappointment. But regardless of how complicated your feelings may be, the game works with what its got and it works well.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is an impressive looking game and is undeniably entertaining. While it barely goes beyond the formula and core gameplay that it has already established, the large number of playable characters it provides as well as the additional figures that I so cold-heartedly despise, are certain to amuse others who look forward to experiencing the game.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Great set of characters and enjoyable gameplay.
Disregard for the control scheme and a severe identity crisis.