LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Review

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Title: LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Developer: Traveler’s Tales, TT Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.5 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

If you take a look at handheld games, the LEGO games are among the most criticized.  Not that the LEGO games are bad games, but their latest handheld versions have been very different than the normal experiences that are available for the same games as the home consoles.  The PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS versions of LEGO Marvel Superheroes was very different from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the same game.  Because of this, the handheld versions have gotten a lot of criticism, notably the PS Vita version for being a “3DS/DS Port”.

With a new LEGO game coming out, everyone wonders how much effort they’re putting into the newest LEGO game that is coming out.  Thanks to the last few games, the handheld games have dropped in price.  While the console games are launching between $40 and $60 a piece, the handheld games are launching at $30 for a brand-new copy.  This is mostly due to the last few handheld games, so it’s become a standard to expect that low price tag to have that isometric quick play-oriented games rather than the full console game.

With the new game, TT Games has said they took their handheld games more seriously this time around.  So, everyone’s questions are what they did to make the game more seriously.  As we go through these questions, we have developed answers and more.  With an open mind, we present to you our official review of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

Story

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The story of LEGO Batman 3 takes place after the events of LEGO Batman 2, though doesn’t require the playing of the first games to understand the story.  Deep in space, the android Braniac is on a quest to conquer the galaxy.  With  his Shrink Ray at the helm, he quests to gather all of the Lantern’ power to enhance his own technology to collect worlds.  With his quest leading him towards the planet Earth to collect the Green Lantern, owned by Hal Jordan, Batman and the rest of the Justice League must spring into action to stop him.

The story of LEGO Batman 3 retains all of the fun comedy that the rest of the LEGO games has, though sometimes doesn’t feel like a “Batman” game.  While LEGO Batman 2 did have characters from other DC Comics in them, this game focuses a lot more on the Justice League element than staying in Gotham City.  The game feels more like it should be called LEGO Justice League or LEGO DC Universe than LEGO Batman.  There are many missions you do that don’t involve Batman at all.

But if you’re a DC or LEGO fan, the game is full of comedy and fun, from start to finish.  A lot of the characters don’t take things seriously and the scenes with Cyborg and The Flash in the latter parts of the game will have you rolling with laughter.  It’s definitely got an interesting story on it, and all of the dialogue fits in a serious-yet funny fashion.

Gameplay

When it comes down to it, all of the LEGO games play very similar in their basic form.  LEGO Batman 3, like the games before it, is a mix between a Platforming Puzzle game and an Action game.  During each mission and level, you will be fighting off enemies while destroying and building objects around you in order to solve puzzles and progress to the next area.  This game does that well, both in a familiar way to previous games and a few new ways to those who have played the previous LEGO Batman games.

The story progresses in missions, which are each made up of three different stages.  These stages normally progress with the first being mostly puzzles and exploration and the third being a boss fight.  In previous LEGO games on handhelds, this was all there was to do.  You had a menu to select a Story Mode, but didn’t have any sort of Free Roam or Free Play outside of that, before finishing the story.  This is one area, where LEGO Batman 3 differentiates itself.

There are Story Missions in LEGO Batman 3, but there are also what are called Hub Levels.  The Hub Levels are this game’s version of Free Roam.  There are two very-large levels for Hubs, The Batcave and The Watchtower.  These aren’t just small bases meant to house a shop and a hub to access missions from (which they do), but they’re also levels in themselves.  Each of the hub levels have several rooms and levels to explore as well as solve puzzles to unlock new content, like suits and playable characters that cannot be unlocked anywhere else.

Missions come in two forms: Normal and Flying.  The normal missions have you roaming around with a party of characters with you as you progress through the level.  You will always be in a party of two, but may switch out with anyone else you have with you, and repeating levels lets you access anyone you’ve unlocked and bought at the shop.  Missions also have objectives to meet, like previous LEGO titles.  The game rewards you if you can achieve objectives, like collecting a certain number of studs, or finding and destroying Batman, Joker, or Lex Luthor-labeled items in a level.  Completing these objectives unlocks content, like Extras or unlockable characters.

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The big thing to note is that this game doesn’t have the isometric top-down perspective.  TT Games has completely returned to the way the handheld games were back when LEGO Batman 2 came out.  Everything is in 3D.  You can jump and fly.  The perspective is in 3D.  You don’t get a Game Over when you die.  Everything is back to the console level of quality and quantity of content.  The game’s HUD is a little different than LEGO Batman 3’s PS4 version, but it has the same levels as that, and plays just like it.

Flying missions have you in an open 3D area piloting either a ship or a flying character.  In these, which are like rail shooters, your task is to take out targets around you and reach your objective.  There are a lot of these out there, mostly involving space battles, and most give you the option of two characters.  For example, some can give you the option of piloting a ship or flying as Green Lantern.  These also have objectives, but don’t give you the free ability to go back as much as the normal missions do.

Completing Story Missions will progress the story and return you to the Hub levels.  There, you’ll follow a path of Green studs to find your next puzzles to unlock the next story missions.  You repeat this process until you have completed the story and can do Free Play in the story levels to help you unlock everything else there is in the game, like Extras and characters.  There is a lot of content to unlock, too.  There are over 140 playable characters, from Superman and Wonder Woman to Deathstroke and 1966 Batman (Adam West).  There will be a lot of revisiting levels after you beat the game, as many early levels have puzzles that require characters you don’t unlock until the end of the game.

The game has 45 Story missions to do, each of which take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.  If you tie this with the content in the Hub levels, you should be able to clear the story of this game in about 8-9 hours.  If you want to re-do levels and unlock everything, you could easily triple that amount of time for getting 100% and all of the trophies.  It’s not a short game, but not a long one either.

Controls

Controlling this game isn’t going to be anything hard to do.  Most of the controls are shown to you towards the beginning of the game, but some of them will have to be experimented to find.  First of all, there is touch screen gameplay.  Most of this also has a button counterpart, other than Computer-Hacking mini-games.  Those are required touch games.  PlayStation TV owners don’t have to worry, though, as the touch emulation on that can easily do these mini-games.

Moving your character around is done with the Left Analog Stick and with an auto-resetting camera, you won’t be in need of the Right Analog Stick.  The D-Pad can also be used for moving around.  The rest of the buttons used will be the face buttons and the L and R buttons.  You can use L to cycle through your characters and R to cycle through which suit you are using, assuming your character can change suits, like Batman and Cyborg can.

The face buttons will be used for most things.  The X button will be used for jumping, flying, and double-jumping, and the Circle button will be used to interact with objects or to create and build LEGO objects.  The Triangle is also used for non-combat, which switches control of the currently-selected party members.  The Square button is the one to be used for combat.  This is for both ranged and close-range attacks, though ranged attacks require you to hold the button down and direct your aim with the Left Analog Stick.

The control scheme isn’t hard to learn, especially if you’ve played previous LEGO titles.  This is also the same on the PlayStation TV. You won’t have to learn a different control style whether you’re on the handheld or the micro console.

Presentation

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Visually, LEGO Batman looks very good.  The game is crisp and clean, almost void of any jagged edges on the character models.  It could compare to LEGO Batman 2 on the PS Vita, which also looked top-notch on its presentation.  We can’t accurately say if it’s better than the previous game, but it looks just as good, and much better than the other recent LEGO titles on the Vita, like The LEGO Movie game or LEGO: The Hobbit.

The game also performs well.  We never encountered any lag or slowdown in any of the levels we played and replayed.  The load times are there, but most of them are fairly short.  Transitioning between rooms normally takes about 2 seconds and loading a mission or Hub normally takes about 7-8 seconds.  It’s not super-fast, but it’s not frustratingly long, either.  The game does well at what it’s supposed to do.

Summary

LEGO Batman 3 is a sign that TT Games is taking its handheld games more seriously.  Everything in the game has been changed and brought back to the console level of quality.  Not everything between this and the PS3/PS4 version is the same and there isn’t much to do outside of story, but this is by far, the best LEGO game available on the Vita, and something no DC Comics fan can afford to miss out on. 

9/10

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