There hasn’t been a video game based directly on a Batman movie since “Batman Begins” in 2005. But that doesn’t mean the shelves will be bare of video-game adventures for the man in black as “The Dark Knight Rises” opens tomorrow.
There are “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and last year’s “Batman: Arkham City.” But like the Christopher Nolan movies, those are dark, gritty and violent takes on the character and his world. For something lighter — something good for kids but still fun for grown-ups — there’s the “Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.”
The setup has the Joker teaming up with Superman arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, whose new Deconstructor weapon can disassemble anything made of shiny black Legos (like, say, everything Batman uses).
Batman and Robin start out alone in taking on this double threat, but it isn’t long before Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and many more DC Comics heroes show up to help in the fight. Eventually you’ll be able to revisit cleared levels with characters who can fly or have other powers that allow them to reach areas Batman and Robin can’t on the first trip through.
The Dynamic Duo have a wide range of abilities on their own, however. In their basic outfits they can hurl batarangs and use grapple guns to gain a bit of altitude, and their alternate suits — such as Batman’s Power Suit, which hits extra hard and fires explosives, and Robin’s Acrobat Suit, which can encase him in a giant hamster ball to activate special machines and lets him create handholds for swinging over gaps— provide a range of useful perks. One or two players can take on the forces of supervillainy, though there is no online play, just local multiplayer.
The longstanding elements of the “Lego” line of games are all here — the little Lego pips you collect to unlock bonuses and extras, the wide selection of cute little Lego characters, the helpful objects you build out of loose Lego pieces, the forgiving game design (some of the puzzles can takes some figuring out, but death hardly sets you back, aside from any dropped pips that disappear before you pick them up).
But there are also a few new features, such as a large, open Gotham City to explore and the introduction of voice acting to the story scenes, where previously games in this line had only pantomime and wordless exclamations. And in a nice touch, the soundtrack to the game is pulled from Danny Elfman’s score for 1989’s “Batman” film, directed by Tim Burton.