E3 2008: Lego Batman Hands-On

Batman is on an all-new adventure in Lego form. We take a look at what it's like to fight for the other side.


Who ever thought that the same Danish building blocks many of us chewed on as toddlers would end up in video games? Lego has evolved over the years and so have video games, and bringing the two together is a dream come true for those of us who used to play with Lego characters when we were young. Following the success of Lego Star Wars was Lego Indiana Jones, but now Traveller's Tales has moved onto the world of Batman. We sat with Traveller's Tales at E3 as it showed us some of the villains and heroes of Batman, and you don't need to be a comic book fan to appreciate the humor and charm that Lego Batman exudes.

The story is not based off any movie or comic book storyline, but it will incorporate a large cast from DC Comics' Batman universe. During the past few months, Traveller's Tales has been releasing new villains, and there are still more to go. The build we saw had about 17, but we only got a chance to see a small handful, including Bane, Joker, Harley Quinn, Penguin, Clayface, Riddler, and Mr. Freeze. We were assured that there will be more and that Batman fans will be impressed. What stood out the most is that each character has their own quirks, and you are able to play as the villains as well as the heroes. There are 15 levels with hero and villain versions, as well as three vehicle levels. The Joker had his swagger, which was incredibly silly but very fitting. The Penguin had a waddle, of course, and a purple umbrella. The level of detail is amazing considering these are Lego figurines. All of the characters have their own special abilities, and special care was made to stay true to the original characters.

Holy snowboarding, Batman!
Holy snowboarding, Batman!

Bane, for example, would lift cops over his head and smash them onto the ground or grab their limbs and swing them offscreen. It is quite entertaining to come across a new character to see what he/she can do. The Penguin drops little penguins that blow up after a few seconds. The Joker has a hand-buzzer and zaps people with a sturdy handshake. Mr. Freeze is useful for getting across hot surfaces, while the Riddler can control people's minds. Playing around with their different abilities helps get through some of the puzzles that are thrown your way. Batman and Robin can get into different tech suits, which give them new abilities. We saw Robin get into a magnetic suit so that could walk up the side of a wall. Batman got into a glide suit that let him slide gracefully from one rooftop to another. Batman's batarang is also included to target enemies at a distance. We got to play some of Batman, and like previous Lego video games, the controls are very basic and there are always helpful hints that show up on the bottom of the screen.

There is a good balance between puzzle elements and action as well, and playing cooperatively makes things easier and more fun--instead of having to switch back and forth. We didn't get a chance to play any of the vehicle levels, but we did see the crocodile vehicle in the demo, which was the same one that Guy Cocker saw in his preview.

Visually, the game is much darker due to the material, but the detail in the background is impressive. Through the carnival level, we were able to see the dark city of Gotham in the background while the characters walked through the fairgrounds. The characters stand out with their vibrant colors, which also make objects that can be interacted with easy to see. Music from Danny Elfman's Batman score in 1989 is also included to add to the mood and atmosphere.

Lego Batman has the same cheeky humor as previous games and makes an excellent cooperative game to play with a younger audience. The game is set to hit all current consoles on September 26.

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