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Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Studios: Warner Interactive, TT Games
Platforms: PS4, PS3, XBox One, XBox360, WiiU, Nintendo 3DS, PC
Home Video Release Date: November 11th, 2014

Synopsis: In Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the Caped Crusader joins forces with the super heroes of the DC Comics Universe and blasts off to outer space to stop the evil Brainiac from destroying Earth. Using the power of the Lantern Rings, Brainiac shrinks worlds to add to his twisted collection of miniature cities from across the universe. Now the greatest super heroes and the most cunning villains must unite and journey to different Lantern Worlds to collect the Lantern Rings and stop Brainiac before it's too late.

Players will unlock more than 150 unique characters from the DC Comics universe, including members of the Justice League and Lego big figures such as Killer Croc, Solomon Grundy and many more. Fans of all ages will be able to control their favourite heroes and villains with new gadgets and abilities. Brainiac's mind controlling abilities and the power of the Lantern rings bring unexpected twists to the classic characters' personalities.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Review
By James Harvey

After a bit of a slow start, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham picks up and become an epic, space-faring adventure that DC Comics fans will adore. Easily on par with the previous two Lego Batman titles, this third installment in the franchise (which hints at a likely fourth) naturally pushes the series forward to new heights. It's a bit of a bumpy road, and can even prove to be oddly inconsistent at times, but the journey proves worth it.

Despite this game falling under the Lego Batman banner, I wouldn't primarily call this a Batman game. Yes, he drives the headline character first chunk of the game, but those sections actually feel somewhat tacked on to make sure we get a few levels with the focus squarely on the Dark Knight and his sidekick Robin before they are basically shoved aside so a host of other DC Comics characters can take the spotlight. Those first few Bat-centric levels are a bit of a slog to get through and feel pretty whitebread compared to the rest of the game. But, once our two lead heroes take off for space, the game just explodes into awesomeness. The dingy brown and grey of Gotham give way to colorful planets and multitude of character - everything just opens up!

Well ... kind of. We get to see and do much, much more, yes, but a lot of it feels somewhat restrictive. Instead of the free-roaming we had in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, we get central hubs used to help players get from mission to mission. There are some open areas, primarily the Green Lantern worlds, but those are actually pretty small in the grand scheme of the game. However, the game tries to counter that by including so much extra content, collectibles and side-missions. Each world, each section, nearly every room, has something to dig for. Nearly every level has an incredible amount of replay value, or gives you a worthwhile reason to return (such as using a different playable character to grab something you couldn't otherwise). If you're a completist player looking to nab every last trinket, well, you're going to be playing for awhile.

There's one particular gameplay improvement worth noting, which is the more efficient suit-selection process. Using a single button trigger, it helps the game keep pace and makes any necessary quick switches a breeze. It's a great upgrade from the previous games, though everything else basically remains as is, control-wise and such.

The characters and locations are abundant in Lego Batman 3, with barely a hero or villain left behind. Green Lantern is front and center for a good chunk of the game, as are most of the Justice League mainstays. But on top of that, we get to see a lot of the C-list (and even D-list) heroes and villains. With 150 characters to unlock, it's no surprise that some of the ones included here are pretty low on the popularly pole. Even more so, the game throws in some surprising non-comic book characters (some good, some bad), such as celebrities Adam West, Kevin Smith and Conan O'Brien, among others. West's role in the game is actually pretty ingenious, stepping in for the usual "citizen in peril" side-missions that popped up in previous Lego Batman games. It's a great way to acknowledge a big part of Batman's legacy without pandering - he's clearly in on the fun. O'Brien's appearances in the game, as a tour guide through the Bat-cave and Watchtower, can be quite tedious and annoying, though. Still, he's such a small part in what's actually a gigantic game.

In fact, this game is so huge that it feels like two different games. The Batman-heavy portions feel so at odds with the more vast DC Universe portions of the game, and the early cut scenes reflect that and even feel unrelated. The game will cut from Batman in the sewer to a bunch of the Lantern Corps fighting off Brainiac in space with no real connective issue. It's not until Batman gets a message on his computer that the game starts to gel, and even then it takes a bit for both sides to come together. With the lengthy campaign, there are times when Batman basically vanishes for hours on end, which honestly isn't so bad. It keeps things fresh, even if it does feel occasionally disjointed, and lets some of the lesser-known DC characters scuttle to the forefront for some well-deserved face time.

And with those characters come cool little touches. For example, like with the previous game, the Superman theme from the classic Donner movie returns whenever the Man of Steel comes onscreen. But do you know what's even cooler? The theme from the 1970s Wonder Woman television show playing whenever the Amazonian warrior takes flight. It is awesome. And it's obvious that the crew behind Lego Batman 3 - this game feels like as love letter to the entire DC Universe - but it still feels just a shade lacking at time. And that's a weird thing to say, given how much of the DC Universe and overall awesomeness is jammed in here, but at times I feel like they could've included more. There are times when it feels like the game is celebrating more the DC brand than the actual world, and this seems pretty apparent with some of the unnecessary guest stars (mentioned above). Plus, it would've been nice to see more of Earth, specifically cities and locations that you'll only find in the DCU. But that is a small, teeny-tiny minor complaint when you consider just how much this game gives not only to Batman fans, but to DC Universe fans.

But that complaint, weirdly, feels moot, because of how much of a blast this game is. It's really, really, really fun. It's easy to overlook some of the shortcomings, especially when the game just goes hilariously batty. There's one moment in particular, when both heroes and villains find themselves undergoing a bit of a personality shift that ends up being a total gas. It's actually a pretty genius idea that would make an excellent comic book story down the line. Brainiac also fumbles some world-shrinking at a point later in the game, resulting in some pretty fun moments where you get to basically stomp through some notable locations as giant Godzilla-sized heroes. In fact, this game seems to take more advantage of what the DC Comics Universe has to offer than the current books being published by DC Comics (which is kind of a sad statement - DC seems to be doing a lot of good stuff right now, but kind of slipping when it comes to their comics).

Also, just to note, I highly recommend sticking around during the end credits. There's at least one surprise fans should get a kick out of.

If you've played the previous Lego Batman games (or just the Lego titles in general), then you're in for more of the same, but just on a larger scale. While they do take away some of the perks of previous installments, like Lego Batman 2's open world, it's replaced here with an abundance of content to unearth and find. Plus, there's a level done in the style of the classic 1960s Batman television series, which is just as awesome as it sounds. Overall, this game is just a flat-out great time that plays superbly and looks fantastic. While the story may falter a little, and things get a little bit bumpy and not as grand as we'd like, it's just a fun time to be had. Just seeing so many classic and lesser-known DC Comics heroes characters done up in the Lego style is a joy to see. And, thankfully, the game does them justice ... every last one of them. Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham comes Highly Recommended.

Please note a final retail Playstation 4 edition of the game was provided by the studio to review.


Packaging and Media

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Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is now available to own on PS4, PS3, XBox One, XBox360, WiiU, Nintendo 3DS and PC.