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Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham – PS4

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham – PS4

Lego Batman 3: Beyond GothamPlatform:  PS4

Release Date (NA):  November 11th, 2014

Developer:  Traveller’s Tales

Publisher:  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Genre:  Action-Adventure

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Officially, this is my 3rd review of Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.  After it was released last year, I played through the game both on the 3DS and the PS Vita.  There are no significant differences between the 2 handheld ports, but the console versions are quite different.  Fundamentally the games are similar, with identical plots and core gameplay mechanics, though the console ports offer more expansive levels, an entirely different “shooter mode,” and loads of peripheral content outside of the main game.

Lego Batman 3 is truly huge in scope, covering a gigantic swath of the DC Universe and featuring over 140 characters.  We’ve got Batman, his “extended family,” and even the darkest corners of his rogue’s gallery, the other Justice League affiliates, Brainiac, the entire Emotional Spectrum of lanterns, and more.  Batman and the Justice League in general are at the core of the story, but this game truly goes “beyond Gotham” with its all-inclusive roster.  The plot is fairly long and takes a few twists, turns, and detours.  Mainly it deals with Brainiac’s plans to take over the world, though it also involves a lengthy subplot where our heroes need to seek the help of the Blue, Indigo, and Violet Lantern Corps., as well as steal power batteries from the Red, Orange, and Yellow Lanterns.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

The full roster, plus what looks like a few characters from DLC tacked on.

It’s a little confusing to keep up with (but should appeal to hardcore comic fans who dig these sorts of winding plotlines) though the cutscenes are very well done.  There’s a lot of humor thrown in that made me chuckle out loud more than once.  The developers did a great job of bringing these quirky Lego figures to life and making them stand out with their own personalities; the recognizable voice acting helps as well.  One of the absolute best moments is watching Robin’s impersonation of Lex Luthor…I don’t know where the hell it comes from, but it cracks me up every time.

Lego continues to tweak and adjust their gameplay formula from game to game, but if you’ve played any of the Lego games from the past several years you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.  Much of your time, in the early phases of the game, will consist of smashing the environment around you for studs (the in-game currency).  Otherwise you’ll be continuously solving minor puzzles and using the plethora of “abilities” in the game to interact with the environment in novel ways.  For example, some objects (blue ones) can only be moved with a magnet; gold objects must be destroyed with a laser; silver objects need to be blown up with an explosive; certain areas require characters who can dig; some objects can only be smashed by giant characters; some areas can only be reached by characters with flight, and so on.  There are lots and lots…and lots of these abilities, more than I’ve seen in any other Lego game thus far.  The few core characters either possess multiple abilities or can change into one of several suits with a specialized function.  The majority of the 140+ cast of characters only have one or two of these abilities which severely limits their usefulness.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Get used to this…

And that’s probably my first complaint about Lego Batman 3.  With so many characters to choose from, it’s tempting to pick an interesting face to start off a level with.  However, chances are this won’t last as the player is constantly having to switch between characters, suits, and forms.  The switching itself can get a little tiring (especially as one moves back through on Free Play mode where any character/suit can be chosen at any time) but what really bothers me is how impractical it is to try and move through the game as Star Sapphire or Man-Bat or Nightwing or Etrigan or…you get the idea.  All characters can do something but it’s the multitaskers with various suits that get the job done economically.  Regardless of your favorites, you’ll probably end up spending most of your time as Batman, Robin, Cyborg, Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern as well as the rest of the “top row” to some extent.  I love the idea of so many characters, I just wish it was more feasible to spend some real “quality time” playing as oddities like the Condiment King or Killer Moth or Polka-Dot Man or Swamp Thing or…you get the idea.

Besides breaking stuff and solving little puzzles to open doors and cross bridges and just to progress through the environment in general, there’s a healthy degree of combat involved.  It’s not an advanced system, and it’s not without its flaws, but it’s easy to learn.  I like that many characters have their own style of fighting; unfortunately they’re not always conducive to the brawls that take place.  Some characters inexplicably leap away from the fray, and then there’s my favorite – when the built-in targeting system directs nearly all of my blows to my comrade despite the other half dozen minions milling around.  Luckily the combat isn’t all that serious in the larger scheme of things.  The baddies mainly just act as a source of studs and add another obstacle to completing the game’s various tasks with.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Issues aside, the environments are well designed and intricate.  Some players will find the puzzles and secrets pedantic, but there are some very well hidden items to be found.  I wouldn’t say that Lego Batman 3 is difficult, though it is time consuming, yet not in a tiresome monotonous way, at least not for the most part.  There’s certainly no shortage things to do.  In each of the 16 levels, there are multiple objectives beyond completion.  One must also meet the number of studs required for “True Hero” status, rescue Adam West, find the Red Brick, find any and all character tokens, and locate all 10 pieces of the Minikit.  All of these essentially culminate in Gold Bricks, which is really the biggest indicator of one’s overall progress in Lego Batman 3.  A few of these can be done in Story Mode with the pre-selected characters, but in all instances the player must go back through in Free Play mode to round up each and every goody.  Lots are obvious, but as mentioned, some of these are very cleverly hidden.

My only qualm with the typically conscientious level design is how easy it is for characters to get physically stuck in some areas.  There are times where a character can walk behind a rock or fall off a ledge and get truly stuck.  One can switch to the other character(s) to continue playing the game, though there are times where 2 characters will need to act simultaneously to complete a task, and if that happens, you’re pretty much screwed.  The only alternative is to exit the level completely and return.  While not ideal, I can understand a few “stuck” glitches appearing here and there due to having such an elaborate and interactive environment.  However, losing all progress on the level to correct it is ridiculous.  It would be much nicer if there were an option to revert back to the last checkpoint at the very least.

In addition to the action-adventure flavor of the majority of the game, a few levels feature shoot ’em up style segments.  Although I don’t think they’re quite as fun as the rail shooter segments present in the handheld versions, it is nice to cut loose and blast everything in sight.  Tucked away in the game’s major hub areas are also several other minigames in the form of a sort of “virtual reality world.”  This is yet another way to earn Gold Bricks, characters, and the game’s unlockable vehicles.  These games are basically modern, re-tooled updates to classic arcade style games; there’s the typical shooter, a Snake-like game (remember these from the graphing calculators?), a Pac-man style game, and more.  There’s several games and then a few difficulties of each and even though it doesn’t take all that long to run through them all, it’s a fun diversion in this crazy world of character switching and stud collecting.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

One of the hub areas.

As if that weren’t enough, the player also has the extensive hub areas to explore.  The hub area is quite large – there’s the Watchtower (housing multiple rooms), the Hall of Justice, the Hall of Doom, the Batcave, and then later on, the Moon Base (more on that in a second).  These move at a more casual pace and allow the player to interact with other characters and complete simple quests for them, all for more Gold Bricks!  They can range from simply finding an object to completing platform-ish feats.  Here’s where you’ll run into some truly ridiculous cameos, namely Conan O’Brien and Kevin Smith…and Daffy Duck as the Green Loontern.  I’m not really sure why guys like this are in the game – I guess to appeal to more of a family audience – and although they’re humorous, they also dilute the “DC-ness” of the game.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

The “Green Loontern” can get mildly annoying.

As one progresses, the Moon Base becomes available, which is itself a sort of “sub-hub” connecting to the planets associated with the different Lanterns: Oa, Okaara, Ysmalt, Zamaron, Odym, Nok, and Qward.  These areas occupy an interesting limbo somewhere between a full-fledged level and the small-ish hub areas, offering the player a little more freedom in playing as his or her hero or villain of choice.  Each planet is quite large and features a healthy number of quests, some as simple as following Daffy Duck around for a few minutes and others involving difficult scavenger hunts and foot races.  I waited until I was pretty much done with the main game and went through all of these in one fell swoop, but it is a neat departure from the typical grind, especially for those who enjoy the puzzle solving and exploratory aspects more.

If you’re reasonably thorough, you’ll be running across several vehicle tokens as well.  There are some cool finds – everything from the Bat-Rocket to the Invisible Jet to the 1940’s, 1960’s, and 1989 versions of the Batmobile.  It isn’t immediately obvious just what these are for until you get to Oa, where the player can compete in several land and air-based races.  There’s quite a selection of vehicles and they all have their own qualities (mostly in handling and speed) but I’m not sure if these differences are extensive enough or if these races are a large enough part of the game to warrant such a wide assortment.  The racing system itself is rudimentary but serviceable, I only wish there were more to do than cut small circles around the featureless, green-lit landscape of Oa.  It’s too well-designed to be considered pointless, yet also a little too brief to feel like a real piece of the game.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

A ground race in progress.

Since there are so many unlockables in Lego Batman 3, it’s worth taking a second to go explain just what it is you’ll be working so hard to unlock.  Many of the treats here are purely cosmetic.  “Red Bricks” act as toggle switches for certain effects, including “festive hats,” mini-Lego figures, fight captions (like the old ’60’s show), and other general silliness.  Luckily they also offer up Stud Multipliers: 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, and 10x.  If you want to not worry about collecting studs as soon as you can (I mean smashing stuff is fun, but there’s a lot to smash….a whole damn lot…), it’s best to get that 2x multiplier as soon as you have the money.  What’s great about the multipliers is that the effect is cumulative.  If you’ve got 2x and 4x multipliers turned on, that means whatever studs you get are multiplied by 8!  Once you have all 5 multipliers turned on, each of those little silver studs you pick up (worth 10 studs) will now be worth a whopping 38,400 – that’s right, 2 x 4 x 6 x 8 x 10 = 3,840.  Not that there are necessarily lots of stud concerns throughout the game, but it is nice to put it behind you early on and buy characters, vehicles, and other bricks as they become available.  There’s also another handy Red Brick worth picking up as soon as the game will allow, and that’s the “Attract Studs” brick.  With it, studs that are close by will come to you like a magnet, and there will be no need to walk up to each and every stud you want to collect.  It’s important to take into consideration that stud collecting would be one of the most tedious parts of the game (and almost any Lego game I’ve played) if not for these enhancements.

Functionally I don’t have a problem with how studs are handled, but conceptually it bothers me a little.  Early on those studs are important – really important.  Gathering them and making sure to hunt down blue and purple studs is a pretty big deal.  Then you make that first million and get the 2x multiplier.  The 4x multiplier costs 2 million, so even with the 2x turned on, it still takes about the same amount of time to collect enough.  But once you get the 2x and the 4x going together, the money starts pouring it.  By the time you’ve tacked on a couple more, studs aren’t even an issue.  You’ll end up having more within a few minutes than you could ever come close to spending in the game.  Early on you’re busting everything in sight for maybe a paltry 100,000 studs, but by the time you’ve got the right red bricks, you can easily pull in half a billion over the course of a level.  Yeah, that’s a “B.”  No joke.  It does bug me a little that studs go from such a sought after commodity to virtually meaningless as quickly as they do, but at least one isn’t forced to smash every single object for the entire game.

Perhaps the game’s biggest stumble is its control scheme.  The nature of the game – constantly switching between characters and abilities – necessitates a functional but practical control scheme, and I feel like maybe the developers bit off more than they could chew in this regard.  For example, pressing Triangle will switch the player’s control over to one of the other characters.  This is no big deal in Free Play when only 2 characters are on screen at a time, but in Story Mode with multiple characters around, it can be a real hassle to land on the right hero/villain.  Now if you hold Triangle, you’ll open up the menu to change suits or change characters (from the main roster).  Some characters can also transform – for instance Superman can turn into Clark Kent, Martian Manhunter can turn into his “giant” form, Shazam to Billy Batson, Bane from small to big, etc. – and they do this by holding Triangle.  So if you’re Superman and hold Triangle to change characters, Superman will immediately launch into his Clark Kent transformation.  You’ve got to quickly hold Triangle again to bring up the character select.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

The Condiment King – everyone’s favorite, right?

There’s an all-purpose “Interact” button – Circle – used to do everything from talk to use abilities depending on the context.  Normally this works well, and the game is even nice enough to prompt you to press Circle to change into the right suit.  Square button is for fighting.  However, if the game is prompting you to press Circle, it will also accept Square.  So if you’re in the middle of a big fight near an area where the computer is prompting you to change suits, Square will activate it anyway and at an inopportune time.  The shoulder and trigger buttons are used to cycle through one’s immediate team and suits, but this is almost completely impractical since it’s virtually impossible to remember who’s on your team at any given time (when going into Free Play, the team is randomized).  I know these specifics can be a little involved for those who haven’t played the game (there are a few other examples that I won’t bother detailing here); my point is that the controls can definitely be a major source of frustration.  Luckily the game isn’t difficult enough where any mistakes caused by control issues are really all that costly, but it is annoying.  It’s not sloppy…I guess I’d call it “unfinished.”  There is just too much going on and too many buttons assigned to too many functions.  For the most part I’d call Lego Batman 3 a great game for kids, though they may not be able to maximize the potential of all the characters’ abilities due to the somewhat confusing control scheme.

Graphically, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Batman is the best looking Lego game that I’ve seen, though admittedly I haven’t seen all of them, including the new Jurassic World.  The use of color is excellent and the developers have built a fantastically convincing world out of Legos.  The characters are cute and charming yet recognizable, and the environments are full of clever applications of existing Lego pieces.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Or perhaps you fear the villainous Polka-Dot Man!?

Voice acting is top notch, with many characters retaining their familiar voice actors/actresses from recent media including cartoons and other video games.  The dialog is lively and expressive, and it’s clear that quality was put into both the scripting and the performances.  I take issue with some of the generic grunts (Sinestro’s is especially hard to endure) and Gilbert Gottfried as Mr. Mxyzptlk almost drives me up the wall, but overall the variety is commendable.  Plenty of recognizable music is used as well.  Elfman’s Batman theme is laced throughout the game, the “na na na na na na na na” theme from the 60’s show makes a few appearances, and a few other characters’ themes make appearances, including Wonder Woman’s (from the 70’s series with Lynda Carter) and Superman’s (from the Donner films) when they take flight.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is a rare example of a family game.  Kids of all ages and skill levels can move through the game at their own pace and still feel a sense of accomplishment while adults can dig a little deeper for a greater sense of satisfaction.  Is it hard?  No.  Does it push boundaries and break expectations?  Not really.  There’s loads of stuff to do but if you’ve played a Lego game before you know basically what’s in store.  I’m not sure that I’d want to run through every Lego game, but small doses like this can be a whole lot of fun from time to time.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

A lot of references to the 60’s TV series eventually culminate in a fitting homage – a whole level devoted to this nostalgic aesthetic. Kids won’t get it, but it’ll give some of us older gamers a reason to chuckle.

Lego games aren’t for everyone, but if you want a casual yet lengthy experience, you can’t go wrong.  It’s also a great homage to the DC Universe in general with some wonderful nods to the old Batman show from the ’60’s as well (including numerous appearances by Adam West and an entire bonus level devoted to and done in the style of the TV series).  They’ve even thrown in a few Easter eggs alluding to the new Jurassic World (remember that this came out November of 2014 and Lego Jurassic World just came out June of 2015) including a snippet of John Williams’ score during the end credits.  Regular ol’ adults will get an appreciable chuckle out of it, comic book fans will laud the huge guest list, and kids will enjoy the game’s quirky tone, comedic cutscenes, and endless diversity.  Although I wish the controls were handled better, I’d still call this a pretty damn awesome game.  If you’ve ever wanted to see what Lego games were all about, this would be a great place to start!

(+) Click for a full list of playable characters!
  • Ace the Bat-Hound
  • Adam West
  • Alfred
  • Alfred (1966)
  • Ambush Bug
  • Aquaman
  • Arkillo
  • The Atom
  • Atrocitus
  • Bane
  • Bat-Cow
  • Batgirl
  • Batgirl (1966)
  • Batman
  • Batman (1966)
  • Batman (Darkest Knight)
  • Batman (The Joker Disguise)
  • Batman (Zur-En-Arrh)
  • Bat-Mite
  • Beast Boy
  • Black Adam
  • Black Canary
  • Black Hand
  • Black Manta
  • Bleez
  • Blue Beetle
  • Booster Gold
  • Brainiac
  • Brainiac Minion
  • Bronze Tiger
  • Bruce Wayne
  • Captain Cold
  • Catwoman
  • Catwoman (1966)
  • Catwoman (Pre-New 52)
  • Cheetah
  • Cheetah (Robin Disguise)
  • Cheshire
  • Composite Superman
  • Condiment King
  • Croc Henchman
  • Cyborg
  • Cyborg Superman
  • Deadshot
  • Deathstroke
  • Detective Chimp
  • Dex-Starr
  • Doctor Fate
  • Doomsday
  • Etrigan
  • The Fierce Flame
  • Firefly
  • Firestorm
  • The Flash
  • Frankenstein
  • Geoff Johns
  • Giganta
  • Gorilla Grodd
  • The Gray Ghost
  • Grayson
  • Green Arrow
  • Green Lantern
  • Green Loontern
  • Harley Quinn
  • Hawkgirl
  • Hawkman
  • Heat Wave
  • Hush
  • Indigo-1
  • Indigo Tribe Warrior
  • Jim Lee
  • John Stewart
  • The Joker
  • The Joker (1966)
  • The Joker (Batman Disguise)
  • The Joker Clown Henchman
  • The Joker Mime Henchman
  • The Joker Space Henchman
  • Kalibak
  • Kevin Smith
  • Kid Flash
  • Killer Croc
  • Killer Moth
  • Kilowog
  • Krypto the Super-Dog
  • Larfleeze
  • Lex Luthor
  • Lex Luthor (Hawkman Disguise)
  • Lex Luthor (Wonder Woman Disguise)
  • Lexbot
  • Lobo
  • Mad Hatter
  • Man-Bat
  • Manchester Black
  • Martian Manhunter
  • Metallo
  • Miss Martian
  • Mr. Freeze
  • Mr. Mxyptlk
  • Music Meister
  • Nightwing
  • Orange Construct Warrior
  • Orion
  • Parasite
  • The Penguin
  • The Penguin (1966)
  • Plastic Man
  • Platinum
  • Poison Ivy
  • Polka-Dot Man
  • The Question
  • Reach Warrior
  • Red Hood
  • Red Lantern Warrior
  • Red Tornado
  • Reverse Flash
  • The Riddler
  • The Riddler (1966)
  • Robin
  • Robin (1966)
  • Robin (Lex Luthor Disguise)
  • Saint Walker
  • Shazam!
  • Sinestro
  • Sinestro Corps Warrior
  • Solomon Grundy
  • Star Sapphire
  • Stargirl
  • Superboy
  • Supergirl
  • Supergirl (Classic)
  • Superman
  • Superman (Solar Suit)
  • Swamp Thing
  • Swamp Thing (New 52)
  • Thunderer
  • Tim Drake
  • Toyman
  • Trickster
  • Ultra-Humanite
  • Vibe
  • White Lantern
  • Wonder Girl
  • Wonder Woman
  • Wonder Woman (Cheetah Disguise)
  • Zamaron Warrior
  • Zatanna

Stay tuned; a whole big batch of DLC has been released for Lego Batman 3 since its release and I haven’t gotten to it yet, but once I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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