How do you follow up the best selling Lego game ever? Well, the answer's simple, you create an outstanding sequel, which is exactly what Traveller's Tales seem to have done. Usually the first time I take a look at a new Lego game I'm impressed with just how much care has gone into recreating the worlds I'm meant to be roaming around in, then the novelty and comedy factors wear off following which the game starts to gather dust on one of my shelves. However, this time around the more I saw and heard from Phil Ring, the game's producer, the more excited I became.
Traveller's Tales set out to push Lego games both technically and gameplay wise with Lego Batman 2 as well as addressing issues that let the first game down, for example regular Lego scenes are good when you have a point of reference but feedback from Lego Batman 1 was that people didn't know what was going on, as a result this is the first Lego game to feature full voice acting for all the mini-characters. Whilst the scripting has been adapted to come up with Lego versions of the various characters, you can expect them to say silly things in an attempt to make you smile, a real effort has been made to preserve their serious side too. Veteran voice actors have also been called upon to reprise roles that they've played in the past, for example Lex Luthor is voiced by Clancy Brown.
The game starts at The Man Of The Year awards, where both Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor have received nominations, although things take a turn for the worse when The Joker decides to crash the party. However, his antics are quickly put to an end and he ends up in Arkham Asylum once more, but is eventually sprung from his cell by Lex Luthor, and the two evil geniuses decide to work together in order to take over the world. As a result Batman has to team up with Superman in order to bring the two to justice before it's too late. The story isn't a slap dash affair it's been properly thought out and the characters have complex relationships, for example Batman develops a jealous streak towards Superman.
There are over 50 characters in the game, some of which are playable, including Batman, Superman, Robin, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, Killer Moth, The Flash, The Penguin, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Sinestro, Two-Face, Vicki Vale, and Lois Lane. These characters also come complete with the powers we know and love them for, so Green Lantern, Superman, and Wonder Woman can all fly, Superman has an invincibility side to him but he is susceptible to Kryptonite, Green Lantern can build Lego constructs, The Flash's attacks are much quicker than others, you can break fire hydrants and then freeze the water as Superman, and for some reason Robin can turn into a Zorb ball to run over enemies and solve certain puzzles. Other abilities can be accessed by changing the suit that your character's wearing. You can create you're own characters too and if you're feeling lazy there's a randomise button in place. I think it's important to note at this stage that there's no villains side this time around, but you can play as some of them once they've been unlocked.
When you're tired of running around on foot there are plenty of aerial, land, and sea vehicles to travel around in including the Batmobile, Batbike, Batwing, Batboat, Two Face's Truck, and Lex Luthor's limo. It's also fairly amusing to get into vehicles that are sitting on the side of the road, whether they're sports cars, school buses, or taxis.
Once you get past the first level you move into the real star of the show, Gotham City, although not all of it's unlocked right from the start, the whole city has been mapped out and you'll get to see both the exteriors and interiors of well known landmarks. The Batcave is your go to area where you can change your character, pick vehicles to go out into the wider world in, and you'll also find the character creator tucked away in one of its corners. After Lex Luthor breaks the inmates out of Arkham Asylum the city descends into chaos and various goons will be encountered as terrified citizens run about in all directions whereas before they happily go about their daily business. Depending on where you go, you'll stumble across different super villains, for example if you go to the Botanical Gardens you can expect to see Poison Ivy. For a Lego game the weather and environmental effects look pretty damn good and some of my favourites were the rain, sunsets, horizons, and twilight. At this point you might be thinking that the co-op aspect to the game might hinder the enjoyment of exploring the city with a friend if you're tied to their side, but that's not the case because you can venture anywhere you please with or without your partner. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to bring the city into the handheld versions of the game, so instead you'll have to settle for The Justice League modes where you have to deal with waves of enemies by switching between characters.
I think it definitely shows that the design team are DC fans and received some great support from both DC and Warner Brothers, and this might be a bold prediction but I think that this one'll go down a real treat with fans and should easily become a Lego game we all remember for a very long time. Finally, Traveller's Tales have no plans at the moment to do a Marvel equivalent, but it almost seems silly for them not to have a go at it if Lego Batman 2 becomes a huge success, which it almost certainly will be in my opinion.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes will be available to buy on all major platforms from 22nd June 2012.