LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham for the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, and Vita Review

 photo Batman01.jpg Personally, games based off this popular toy franchise have been hit or miss this year. LEGO Movie The Game was pretty enjoyable, but LEGO The Hobbit felt tired and boring. I think the multi-release of the games is what is making these series of games feel like they are all the same, with not a whole lot making them individually stand out. There are not many changes between each game besides some of the main mechanics. You still get a lot of the same problems you see in almost every single game, like an annoying camera and too many characters that don’t really play any differently from other characters. So, how does LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham stand out? Well, while it has its same share of problems, like the isometric camera, and for me, questionable casting decisions, this is easily the best of the three LEGO games released this year. Even though I have my own set of problems with this game, it is pretty much the only LEGO game to invest your time with this year. Let’s get started!

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LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham’s story revolves around Brainiac, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, who captures the leaders of the different Lantern characters that symbolize the emotions like fear, love, anger, greed, peace, and you get the idea. On top of that, The Joker, voiced by Christopher Corey Smith, Lex Luthor, voiced by Clancy Brown, Solomon Grundy, voiced by Fred Tatasciore, Cheetah, and Firefly try to take control of the Justice League’s HQ that is up in space as part of a plan to make Lex Luthor president. It is up to Batman and the Justice League to stop Brainiac from taking over, as well as prevent Lex from becoming President. If those weren’t enough plots for you, Batman also has to come to terms with dealing with emotions, since he usually does not let his emotions get the best of him. The story can be a bit of a mixed bag. There a lot of memorable lines and interesting story elements, like how some of the villains and heroes are endowed with the emotion from different Lanterns. Wonder Woman is angry, the Flash is greedy, Cyborg is scared, and The Joker and Lex Luthor are kind characters. On the other hand, it feels like three different stories put into one game. I also have my issues with the casting choices, but I will get to those later.

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LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham changes a few elements to the overall action/platformer/puzzle design, but also stays mostly the same as previous games. First off, you don’t have a huge overworld to travel through, but instead, the Justice League HQ in space, on Earth, the Batcave, and the moon. The levels are your typical LEGO video game-style levels, where you play as a group of usually four or so characters that have their individual abilities. For example, Batman, Robin, Lex Luthor, The Joker, and Cyborg all have different suits to tackle different situations, like a hazard suit to tackle hazardous waste, electricity suit to absorb electricity, and space suits that allow them to fly for a limited amount of time. Heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern can fly without the use of fuel, and Superman can take more hits. Characters like Solomon Grundy and Cyborg’s giant suit can pick up heavy objects. Besides the platforming and simple action gameplay, the game will sometimes change to a more arcade-style shooter, like Resogun. The overall game took about six to eight hours to complete, and you can expand that playtime with the multiple unlockable heroes and villains, miniature LEGO builds, and gold bricks. If you have played any of the LEGO games from the past five years or so, you have pretty much played them all in terms of how the level design, puzzles, and action will turn out, but what about the graphical presentation?

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Well, the graphics look great as usual. The game, once again, uses the mixture of both realistic graphics for mountains and different kinds of stones, while combining roads, buildings, and contraptions out of the multi-colored bricks. The animations between the characters and LEGOs getting smashed are smooth and I never saw any slowdown while I was playing on the PlayStation 4. The music carries tunes from the Tim Burton “Batman” soundtrack, the Adam West TV series, the TV series based around Wonder Woman, and the Richard Donner “Superman” movies. The voice work is top notch, as talented voice actors like Troy Baker and Travis Willingham do a great job in portraying Batman and Superman. Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor has always been one of my favorite DC Comics-related casting choices ever since the mid-90s Superman cartoon. Dee Bradley Baker is kind of an odd choice for Brainiac, since he uses his Klaus voice from “American Dad” to portray him. I guess it was a call from the acting director, but he does sound like he is enjoying being evil in this role. You also have the voice talents of Tara Strong, Nolan North, and Steve Blum to add on to the celebrity voice talent of Kevin Smith, Conan O’Brian, Gilbert Gottfried, and Stephen Arnell.

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So, what problems do I have with the game? I am going to sound like a broken record, with my usual complaints of the obnoxious camera, familiar, but solid level design, the multiple pointless unlockable characters that are only there for fan service, and you get my point. How about we go into the more technical side of the game? For one, let’s talk about the music. It’s fun to listen to, but it is starting to feel sort of lazy, since they don’t have to hire a composer to make any unique music for themselves. They even have a composer named Rob Westwood, but there is so little info on this guy or I haven’t found this info, that it makes me believe he didn’t do much. I also found that the celebrity cameos didn’t really add anything to the overall experience. Sure, Conan made a few funny jokes and Kevin Smith sounds rather energetic when you encounter him, but they don’t really add to the overall experience. Heck, they even advertised Stephen Arnell voicing Green Arrow, yet he doesn’t play any role in the main story. Even Gilbert Gottfried returns to voice the Superman villain, Mr. Mxyzptlk, but he plays no point in the overall story either. Why hire celebrities when you don’t take full advantage of them. I can tell they did this for fun and all, but it seems like a waste of money unless they had a major point in the story. The only celebrity cameo that makes sense is Adam West, because they actually do something with him after you beat the game for one of the best Easter Eggs around. Also, why didn’t they continue with the fan service of voice talents and get popular super hero/villain casting choices like Tom Kenny as Plastic Man? The game does have other major DC super heroes, but they don’t really take advantage of them, unless you have unlocked them or get that expensive season pass. Since Batman is not the only major superhero in the game anymore, with his role being relegated to a secondary character, why not call this game LEGO Justice League? Why does it have to be LEGO Batman 3? Why not take the route of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and well, do what you did with that game and create LEGO Justice League or something? I would have loved to have seen more varied superheroes used, but like I said, they really didn’t do anything with them.

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On the whole however, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is definitely better than the second game, but I also felt like they should have just made LEGO Justice League and added more playable heroes that helped progress the story instead of making this a third game in the LEGO Batman sub-series. If you want to get this game, you are in no short supply of consoles to get it on. You have the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, and Nintendo 3DS. There is also a season pass to unlock more playable characters with each bundle apparently coming with unique playable missions. If you love the LEGO games, but don’t want to own every single one, you should easily pick this one out, since it’s the best one that came out this year and one of the better LEGO games in general.

This game gets an 8 out of 10.