If you think the only entertaining version of Batman is the dark, gothic one that deals with mature themes as found in the new films and modern comics, you're wrong. LEGO Batman is as childish as video games can get, yet it's still appealing to a wide audience. By the same token, if you think developer Traveler's Tales is changing its golden formula after succeeding with the slew of LEGO Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, you're wrong again.
The game's story won't impress anyone above basic reading comprehension. Batman's villainous adversaries have escaped their prisons in Arkham Asylum, they're up to no good, and it's up to Batman to stop them. Fortunately, Traveler's Tales has mastered the art of playful slapstick, so every cutscene elicits at least a mild chuckle. Iconic characters, such as Clayface and Robin, have been turned into village idiots with hijinks ripped straight out of Saturday morning cartoons.
Maybe even more so than LEGO Star Wars, this game is filled with cool playable characters, and thanks to LEGO Batman's parallel hero and villain stories you have plenty of opportunities to try them. Nightwing, Joker, Killer Croc, Bane, Catwoman, and Man-bat only scratch the surface of this game's catalogue of great characters. As with all the LEGO games, you'll spend weeks replaying through levels to get all the unlockables.
Combat is a little more important this time, but this is still a button masher. The vehicle segments also offer a nice change of pace, but the primary thrill in LEGO games has always been smashing the environment into little LEGO pieces then rebuilding them into crazy new contraptions. LEGO Batman falls back on this routine exhaustively. The game is perfect for blowing off some steam or relaxing with friends, but it's nothing more than a mildly rewarding waste of time.
While this may arguably be the best LEGO game to date, it's still a series designed for the lowest common denominator. The level design is extremely straightforward. You can't lose since you have unlimited lives, and you respawn exactly where you ''died.'' The boss battles are also unoriginal. They all follow the exact same pattern: the boss stands just out of reach long enough to throw a few dangerous objects at you, then they come down to your level to get pounded before jumping back to safety to repeat the process.
The charm of LEGO blocks is exploring your creativity and building new things, so Traveler's Tales' habit of sticking to one formula stands in stark contrast to the entire LEGO philosophy. We've had fun with this series, but it's time to dump the franchise out on the floor and start piecing it back into something new.