Back in 2005, on a different generation of consoles, a brave team of developers at Traveller’s Tales took on the mammoth task of creating a game that combined the iconic Star Wars with everyone’s favourite brick-based toy company, LEGO. After covering the entire Star Wars saga – the first six films – and branching out to Indiana Jones’ exciting adventures, the Dark Knight descended on their doorstep. First came LEGO Batman: The Videogame (2008), which starred Batman and Robin in an original story, before then making a return alongside a few friends like Superman and The Flash in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012).
Without those aforementioned games receiving a fairly good response from the masses, we’d have possibly never seen the third, and arguably the best, instalment of the LEGO Batman series. What’s the point of all this? Well, it’s been five years since LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham arrived on 14th November, 2014 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, PC and a multitude of other platforms, and even now I regard it as one of the most memorable LEGO games to date. And there are just so many reasons why.
No longer is the action limited to just Gotham City and DC’s usual Earth-based locations; instead, it allows us to venture outside of this realm, visiting the Lantern planets of Nok, Odym, and Qward, amongst others. The reason for this is that the evil mastermind Brainiac has acquired six of seven different power rings belonging to the Lantern Corps and now Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) is the next, and final, target. Despite his resistance being futile, seeing him succumb to Brainiac swiftly, Batman and the rest of the Justice League conjure up a plan which involves gathering energy from the different Lantern planets.
For many players, the new places and the Lantern Corps characters inhabiting them are a breath of fresh air. Everyone loves seeing Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the usual heroes, but by introducing the likes of Atrocitus, Sinestro and Star Sapphire, an extra layer of intrigue is added to proceedings. There are even some shenanigans with Lex Luthor and the Joker; such loveable rogues who’ll do anything to fulfil their own goals. And whilst the sheer variety within the cast of the story leads to interesting cutscenes, it’s the comedic script and ensuing antics which really will make you chuckle – no matter your age!
The gameplay could have been a stumbling block, with the now trademark brick bashing playing a major part in LEGO Batman 3. Essentially, almost everything in the area is susceptible to a flurry of fists, kicks and lasers, thus delivering studs and brick pieces to build the necessary contraption to advance. The mindless destruction is a tad monotonous and repetitive, but the joy comes in the challenge provided by the inclusion of multiple suits characters can switch between. Deciding which gadget-laden suit to whack on makes it more puzzling and engaging; for example, you may need to swap on the fly to go scuba diving or navigate toxic zones.
When you factor in the whopping roster of DC heroes and villains to unlock – as well as a couple of cameos – easily totalling over 150 including variants, the shed load of Gold Bricks to earn, the Minikits to be found, and the Red Bricks to acquire, there are hours and hours of enjoyment long after the narrative concludes. The icing on the cake is the DC version of Marvel’s multiple copies of Stan Lee in peril to save, which comes in the form of Adam West taking on the role of a dude in distress. Anyone who’s seen the classic 1960s Batman TV series and film will appreciate the instantly recognisable legend’s appearance.
To keep players invested in LEGO Batman 3 post-launch, several bits of DLC were released to tie-in with TV shows and blockbuster movies like Arrow, Batman Beyond, Man of Steel and The Dark Knight trilogy. The DLC is cheap and cheerful, without ever reaching the high points of the game itself.
Those hoping for a sequel haven’t witnessed their dreams being realised yet, although a spin-off title did emerge when LEGO DC Super-Villains arrived in November 2018. As the name suggests though, its focus is on the bad guys and you’re playing an integral role in their fight against faux heroes who are the worst of the worst. Whilst the story is superbly bizarre, possessing an incredible voice cast, the gameplay falters slightly. Still, it’s a LEGO instalment worth getting involved in if you’re even just a casual fan of what DC Comics have to offer.
As for LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, well, I heartily recommend folk check it out to this day, because there are very few games in the LEGO franchise that come close to nailing that all important fun element, with only minor bugs threatening to curtail your enjoyment. If you wish to try it out, head on over to the Xbox Store. To anyone who has played it, do you remember it fondly? If so, feel free to share your memories of the good times, or even tell us why it’s not a favourite of yours.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the Batcave to prepare for the next villainous plot threatening the multiverse!