The Average Gamer

Hands-on Preview: LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

The LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham trailer from San Diego Comic Con has just been released on YouTube. As you might surmise from the title, Batman is venturing outside his normal Gotham playground and into the wider DC universe.

I played a recent build of the game and yes, he goes quite far indeed. All the way to the moon, in fact. This story section featured Batman and Robin with a variety of costumes that each provided different powers. As with all of TT Games’ LEGO series, the animation is simply brilliant, with the stand-out moment for me being Robin’s Toy Wonder ability. Robin can summon a half-sized LEGO version of himself that flies on a hoverboard to slip through small vents and reach distant machines. Mostly I just leave him floating and watch him do handstands on the hoverboard.

Batman himself had a bunch of powers like a jetpack-wielding power suit, a sonic weapon that would shatter glass or summon moon bats (!), explosives that would destroy silver objects or a laser that would destroy gold. Since the go-to action if you get stuck is to destroy objects until a new path or device is revealed, I spent a lot of time just swapping suits and hitting everything in sight. Wa-hey, LEGO destruction.

On the downside, the rotating split screen co-op feature from LEGO Marvel Super Heroes returns in this game. From a technical standpoint, it’s very nifty design that looks cool as the screen split line moves to follow your character around the map. On a practical level, it’s very annoying, especially in sections where you need to carefully time jumps to avoid imminent death but the world view keeps changing as your co-op partner bounces around the map.

LEGO Batman 3 - Batman Sonar Robin TechnoOn one occasion we got stuck for minutes when my Batman partner used the power suit to cross to the far end of a chasm. Thanks to the dynamic screen split, it was almost impossible for me to see the hole in the wall where Robin was supposed to insert a pole and swing across the gap.

That aside, LEGO Batman 3 is definitely the weirdest LEGO game I’ve seen. While some door-unlocking puzzles were of the traditional pipe-rotation-puzzle variety, others had Batman and Robin leaping through a series of grey blocky planes in what appeared to be a 90s hacking visualisation. Once we hacked and puzzled our way through the moon caves, we were thrown into single-person jet fighters and set loose in space to fight a giant Joker head in a Resogun-style side-scrolling battle orbit. It was weird. A fun variety of challenges, but very, very weird.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham will be out in Autumn 2014 for so many platforms.