There are so many games out there we couldn't possibly review them all. Welcome to Snapshot, where we highlight games that might fall outside our usual coverage but are still something we think you should know about. Today: LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and PC.
In other words, Lego games might not be groundbreaking, but they're generally reliable. In that respect, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes seems no different, though it adds a wrinkle or two. Once again, you find yourself controlling adorable LEGO characters as they battle their way through static stages, smashing everything in sight to collect precious LEGO bits. Each level has its requisite secrets and goals: collect a certain number of bits, find the hidden canisters, save the citizen. Accomplishing these goals unlocks golden LEGO bricks which, in turn, unlock even more secrets as the game progresses.
Each level has areas or objects that can only be accessed by certain characters or with certain power-ups. Batman and Robin both have several special suits to clear challenges. One may allow Batman to fire explosive missiles, while another gives Robin extra acrobatic abilities. Chances are good that you won't have the necessary character on the first run of a given level to find every secret, so replay is definitely encouraged.
But all of that is par for the LEGO course – so what's new? The biggest addition is an open-world map that connects all of LEGO Batman 2's missions. You can scan the map from the Batcave (or remote Batcomputer terminals) to look for missions, stray villains or special items. Once in a mission, Batman and Robin can quickly summon their favorite ride (the Batmobile, Batbike and Robin's Bike, etc.) and head into Gotham.
A clever trail of translucent LEGO bits leads Bats to his destination, though there are certain to be distractions along the way. See a suspicious glowing blue pipe winding up a building? Why not slap on Robin's magnet suit, scale the pipe and see what's up there? (Hint: It's a gold brick.) Batman and company can also take part in one-off boss fights with villains scattered throughout Gotham or unlock new areas and vehicles with gold bricks and LEGO bits.
Of course, Batman is only half of the title. DC Super Heroes (and villains) fit in as well, and it's only a few missions before you can take control of Superman himself. Flying around levels, blasting objects with heat vision and freezing waterfalls is plenty of fun, and a nice change of pace from the more grounded play of the Dynamic Duo (and more fun than most actual Superman games).
Like other LEGO games, Batman 2 is full of goofy jokes and pokes fun at its source material. This marks the first LEGO game to feature full voice acting and, while it seems odd at first, it really adds to the experience, making the whole affair feel something like a Saturday morning cartoon. My favorite bit is probably Gotham's female news anchor, who cheerfully rattles off all the disasters afflicting the city – a mass escape from Arkham Asylum, panic in the streets, etc. – because it's just another typical day in Gotham. She also takes a moment to point out how stupid some villains are, questioning that there could possibly be a super villain named Killer Moth. I'm also very fond of Robin absolutely fawning over Superman.
After spending several hours with LEGO Batman 2, it seems like it should serve fans of the franchise just fine. There are loads of characters and power-ups, a ridiculous amount of items to collect, unlockables galore and enough chuckles to keep things interesting. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes doesn't reinvent the wheel, but its audience is pretty well established at this point, and I doubt it will be dissatisfied.
This article is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, provided by Warner Bros.