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It doesn’t matter which alias he’s using, Batman (or Bruce Wayne to his closest pals) can elevate any form of media to a higher stature. He’s one of those household names and when he’s added to one of the best-selling children’s franchises, LEGO, you could say it’s a match made in heaven.

With this being their third outing together, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham came along and with a market saturated in LEGO games, I’ll be the first to admit that I thought maybe this is just too much too soon. We’ve had The Hobbit, Marvel and even The LEGO Movie in the past year, so this is where it starts to grind and become a tedious affair, right?

Well it shows how much I know because I am completely and utterly wrong.

We enter the DC Universe where everything seems normal; Joker is up to his old tricks, Lex Luthor wants to rule the world with an iron… no, a robotic fist and Batman and Robin are chasing every bad guy who causes a stir in Gotham. Little do they know that a rather clever android, the aptly named Brainiac, wants to shrink all the worlds with the help of the Lantern power rings (attached to some unwilling Lantern Corps members) because he wants to add them to his collection…as you do. His next destination? Earth!

Not only do the Justice League have to get together to formulate a plan but also work with their sworn enemies to some degree, because after all it’s their home too… they aren’t monsters you know. This story plays out over 15 main missions and I’d quite easily say it’s one of the funniest, heart-warming and interesting tales I’ve seen in a LEGO game so far, at least on par with The LEGO Movie.

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One of the main reasons the story is so good is down to the script writing and the impeccable performances from the many voice artists. They’ve managed to get the best in the business, the people who have voiced these characters and many others before. Names such as Troy Baker (Batman), Laura Bailey (Wonder Woman), Charlie Schlatter (Robin/The Flash) all do justice to their respective main heroes whilst the villains are equally voiced to make you feel something, anything, with each line spoken.

The cut-scenes are well set up, easy to understand and most importantly, funny enough at times for all ages to laugh at. Whilst it never goes too deep on the serious side, on the other side of the coin there are feel-good moments that are a stark reminder as to why you’re a fan of Batman or Lego or even both. They don’t tend to last for too long either which means you’re back in the thick of the action in no time, unlike some games where they can drag on a bit.

I’ve not even begun telling you about the action/gameplay yet, for the most part if you’ve played LEGO before then you’ll know roughly what to expect. The general tasks on your way to the next boss or mini boss consists of smashing everything in sight (even if only for the currency…the Studs), building necessary equipment to move forwards and solving slightly puzzling problems.

Now that all seems pretty standard until you find out early on that Traveller’s Tales have thrown even more transformations for some characters other than just going from a regular mini-figure to a larger one. For example, Batman has his regular suit plus seven alternates that are really easy to switch to depending on whether you need to go under water (Scuba Suit) or destroy silver objects (Demolition Suit). This makes the select few extremely useful for multiple purposes; they are like Swiss Army LEGO heroes and villains.

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When it’s all done and dusted you’ll be wanting more, well it’s your lucky day because thanks to the massive amount of unlockables and collectibles you will likely end the story at only a quarter of the way through total completion. This game is the bee’s knees for replayability as you can revisit each level to access new little areas in free-play where any unlocked characters can be used. And if that wasn’t enough then there are separate locations to explore as well.

Although the story will take you to the Lantern worlds such as Nok and Odym, afterwards you can explore these planets along with the Bat Cave, the Watchtower etc. Here you’ll find small quests, puzzles and even more Adam Wests needing to be saved. Yes, the legendary Batman actor features as a “dude in distress” across all parts of the game and it’s up to you to find them all. There are 30 in total and if you add this to the 250 Gold Bricks, 160 minikits and 16 Red Bricks then golly gosh you’ve got a job on your hands.

That isn’t including the character unlock tokens hidden around the place, most of the over 150 in the game need to be found. I know what you’re thinking; most of these will be variations of Batman and Robin… not quite! In fact the DC Universe has been scoured to find some of the most obscure heroes and villains that even a long time fan like me knows very little about. Prepare to use all the favourites like The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Solomon Grundy (who you will grow to love, trust me) and then freshen it up later on with Bronze Tiger, Indigo-1 and Ace the Bat-Hound. Easily the greatest roster I’ve ever seen, which up until now was LEGO Marvel.

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For those of us who are maybe a little older, there’s even stuff that’ll make us feel all nostalgic in the form of the original Batman television characters. They get their very own bonus level that sees the 1966 versions brought back to life again with all the KAPOWs I could ever ask for. The throwback to one of the most over-the-top incarnations of Batman and the gang is a brilliant addition that just piles on top of the already awesome game it is.

You could say DC often lives in the shadow (they do prefer the dark side though) of its comic book counterpart Marvel in other mediums, however in the LEGO world I’m not sure how any franchise it links with can top this superb offering. Lego Batman 3 brings a wonderfully constructed lighter side of crime fighting to the console and improves on its predecessors whilst also taking some of the best parts from The LEGO Movie and LEGO Marvel.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is the ideal game this Christmas for little kids, big kids and even bigger kids!

TXH rating 5

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