Even though there have already been two "LEGO Batman" video games, last year's LEGO Marvel Super Heroes raised the bar. Now, TT Games and Warner Bros. Interactive are bringing us LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. So how do you top a fully realized New York City in the "LEGO Marvel" game? How about going to outer space and different planets?
Besides both being "LEGO" and based on their own universes, and with a multitude of playable characters, there's very little room for comparison between "LEGO Marvel" and "LEGO Batman." While "LEGO Marvel" takes its cues from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "LEGO Batman" is fully content with using silver age comics and cartoons as its basis. Featuring the trademark puzzles of the LEGO series, LEGO Batman 3 gets a number of upgrades from its predecessor.
The first change to the game is in the costumes. Fans will remember in LEGO Batman 2 that some puzzles required the characters to change into a specific costume (Scuba Batman, Missile Launching Batman, Sonar Batman, etc.) This is still present in LEGO Batman 3, except now players take the costumes with them everywhere they go and can change into them at the flick of the left or right trigger. Batman is capable of carrying nine total costumes, though this number may fluctuate with other characters (Cyborg, for example, has fewer slots).
Another distinction from the previous games into the third one is in the visuals. Beautifully rendered in HD, the game is a huge showoff for the next gen consoles. The look of the game also hammers home the differences from "LEGO Marvel" as well. The visual tone of LEGO Batman 3 is more brooding and less colorful though just as playful. Batman's cape in particular looks amazing in the new game, as it appears as a glossy piece of thread and not a hunk of plastic. A lot of care and time has been put into making this game look amazing, and it shows.
Maybe it was that LEGO Batman 3 was the last game I played at E3, but it did seem uncharacteristically difficult for a game mostly aimed at kids. Some of the puzzles took a number of attempts and there were even some I figured out on accident due to the fact that I'd already tried everything else. The level I played is likely the opener to the game, as it introduced players to the mechanics of the game (in particular the costume changes) and set up the story with very basic narrative, at least for the time being. Its location was the Batcave, with Batman and Robin putting together the Bat-rocket so they could get up to the Justice League's Watchtower. My only fault with the demo is that it didn't show enough of the scope of LEGO Batman 3. This game is going to end up being huge, but what we were shown as an example was just a prettier, trickier version of the last "LEGO Batman" game.
Fans of the LEGO games will be pleased with what TT Games has put together with LEGO Batman 3. Featuring a huge cast of characters and a number of different locales, its quirky tone and trying puzzles show that the method for these games still works despite a number of entries. My only request is that Swamp Thing is playable.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham will be released for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, PC, Mac and iOS this fall.