First it was Star Wars, then Indiana Jones. Now it's Batman, the caped crusader himself, who's been given the Traveller's Tales LEGO treatment. Great! Who doesn't like Batman these days, or the idea of running around a LEGO-fied Gotham City as a cute LEGO Batman, and LEGO Joker, and LEGO everyone else from the vast DC Universe? This can't possibly be anything other than awesomeness on an epic scale.
TT's LEGO titles have always scored well here on VideoGamer.com. From the very first LEGO Star Wars game, through to LEGO Indiana Jones, via LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, each title has provided innocent but fun cooperative (for LEGO Batman with the computer or a friend on the same console only - no online co-op) combat, platforming and puzzle solving fun for all the family.
And so, TT has clearly taken an 'if it 'aint broke then don't fix it' approach to the game's design. LEGO Batman follows the tried and trusted TT LEGO formula religiously. It's got tons of cute, LEGO-fied Batman universe characters to play as in 30+ levels, thousands of bits and bobs to collect and unlock and loads of easy as pie but cool to solve puzzles, just like all of the other LEGO games. If you've played the Star Wars LEGO games, or the Indiana Jones LEGO game, and enjoyed them, you're guaranteed to enjoy this. But this time there's a crucial difference.
One of the best things, perhaps even the best thing, about the LEGO games is watching the cut scenes. In previous games they've directly followed the story of the films they're licensed from, but with a LEGO twist. These cut scenes have been key to the series' charm, and appeal to more adult gamers who are first and foremost fans of Star Wars or Indiana Jones. There's something oddly compelling about watching the boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark in bright LEGO-vision, or seeing a LEGO Darth Vader step off of his shuttle and onto the Death Star for the first time. That TT has added in its own family-friendly humour to these cut scenes only made them better.
Because LEGO Batman isn't based on a movie, or a series of movies (the recent Dark Knight films are obviously too, er, dark for a LEGO game) TT has had to conjure up its own story and cut scenes to fill in the gaps. Somewhat inevitably then, the effect is that we have less interest in the cut scenes, and less interest in the story overall - perhaps tellingly, the plot is a wafer thin affair where all the well-known criminals break out of Arkham Asylum and it's up to Batman and Robin to stop them from realising their dastardly plans.
TT has spoken of the benefits of being free from the shackles of a specific film license, but it appears the move has had a somewhat negative effect. We're not criticising TT directly for this - it seems like an inherent problem given the situation. But it's one worth noting.