You know what you’re going to get with a Lego game, these days. Admittedly, it’d probably be difficult not to, given the rate at which Traveller’s Tales have been pumping out new ones over the last few years, but it’s also quite fascinating to see them adapt from one licensed property to the next.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham basically does what it says on the tin. Picking up right from the end of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, with Braniac putting his latest dastardly plan into action. However, whereas DC Super Heroes basically took all the heroes in that universe and introduced them into Batman’s domain, this one takes the whole show on the road, for a tour of space and the Lantern planets. Although it’s a sequel in the Lego Batman series, it’s really tackling the DC universe as a whole.
That opens the game up to including new ideas and new experiences. While trying to rescue the Blue Lantern planet of Odym, for example, you have to take on a Reach mothership – a cybernetic insectoid alien race – temporarily turning the game into a side-scrolling shooter. It’s really quite reminiscent of Resogun in the way that it’s implemented, as you can fly your hero round and round on an endless loop, shooting down alien ships as you go.
Of course, it’s not going to get as mind numbingly difficult as Resogun, because of the game’s different target audience, but there are still some nice twists to its implementation. Especially once you try to tackle these missions in free play, you’ll be able to dig out any of the characters you want, but those characters like Superman who can quite obviously survive in space will go through those battles without needing to hop into a space ship.
Following on from DC Super Heroes, there’s an even grander cast of characters to play as, too. There’s over 150 for you to play as, with both heroes and villains open to you, with each lovingly recreated and many enhanced since the last outing in the DC universe. Catwoman is now in her New 52 guise, Killer Croc makes good use of the big fig form, while Flash has been given a truly wonderful visual trail when he runs, as well as a new spinning top attack to make use of. Oh, and then there’s Bat-Cow and Krypto the Superdog…
The story really allows Traveller’s Tales to play around with these characters, in their typically irreverent style. The game does initially start on Earth and in Gotham, as Batman and Robin call together the Justice League to do battle with the Legion of Doom, but Braniac’s universe altering plan soon puts Earth in peril and actually sees heroes and villains teaming up with a common enemy.
However, some of the characters are affected by personality changing powers along the way, managing to subvert their usually stoic and serious nature and injecting another layer of humour. Flash starts to flit around and hoard anything he can get his hands on, while Cyborg is suddenly scared of everything, and Wonder Woman is suddenly just angry as heck.
These will mainly be played for laughs in the cutscenes and incidental dialogue, so the gameplay on the ground will be much the same as before: you run around and smash stuff up. Some characters will be able to make use of the suits system which Batman had access to last time around, though. There’s always a little room for something a bit outlandish here, so Plastic Man can turn into a plane or a space hopper – when he’s not busy turning into a toilet to flush enemies down himself – and Cyborg’s stealth suit transforms him into a washing machine.
There’s also all of the classic 1960s versions of characters, too. As you’re running around lush and beautiful alien planets such as Odym, that will certainly make a nice change from the eternal night and rain of Gotham – with each world coming as both a story level and a hub level to play in – the character in peril this time around is Adam West, who has also lent his voice acting to the game. Centring around this, a bunch of characters have classic versions included, so that you can run around as classic Batman or Joker, replete with the wonderful “Kapow!” and “Wham!” effects popping up on screen.
I realise that I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the characters in the game, rather than the gameplay itself, but as I said in the introduction, we all know roughly what to expect from a Lego game. You run around, brawl with enemies, smash blocks and so forth, but it’s with the world and the characters that Traveller’s Tales can play with and gently poke fun at. It’s really here that you can see their attention to detail, all of the fan service that they work in and the warmth and deep love for the DC universe that they have.