Lego Batman: The Video Game

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list below.

Full Pros & cons re-review coming soon...

The graphics are sharp, clean, and look just like their real life counterparts; while the gameplay can sometimes be simple, it's simply addictive to smash and collect everything in site; the game's story has a great sense of humor and direction; and it has an almost unprecedented amount of extras to unlock.

Stop eyeing my diamond, I will throw it at your head...don't test me.

However, although motion control for the throwable weapons is fun, attack motion control is a bit tiresome and gimmicky, especially for an older audience (but it's somewhat remedied by the fact that there is an option to attack without motion control). The fixed camera angle can make it hard to jump some gaps, as you lose some depth perception, making it not so easy to calculate where you're going to land; and although you have unlimited lives, many of the game's puzzles are unnecessarily vague, which can result in needless trial & error, and in turn, to frustration.

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating and My age rating.

Content-wise: Normally I would give a game about Legos a lower age rating. However, although the majority of this game is appropriate for these age groups, there's one element that might not be...

The second half puts you in the shoes of the Batman universe's villains (with the advertised catch phrase being, "It's good to be bad!"), as you fight police, blow stuff up, torment civilians and commit crimes. The actual execution of these gameplay portions are harmless, but the overall idea isn't, at least for younger minds.

So, overall, a younger age group could play this easily enough with a parent or older sibling on co-op. But, because of the aforementioned content, and, that this game is actually quite a bit harder than previous Lego games, I suggest going (or sticking) with another Lego game for this age group.

Difficulty-wise: Many of the puzzles are moderately difficult to solve, with the solvent itself being sometimes extremely vague, and you never get a hint on where to go; they just plop you in the level and expect you to figure it out on your own.

This carries into vehicle levels, and even when you think you've done everything you can in a given area, it gets frustrating when it doesn't let you continue on because of some trigger or path you couldn't find. But, you have unlimited lives, there's virtually no penalty to dying, the base enemies are a piece of cake, and the overall gameplay mechanics are easy to master.

So, in other words, you basically have unlimited tries even if you are stuck. And I don't see kids 10+ having too many (if any) problems with the difficulty this game brings.

Fun for: Although this probably isn't the first choice for adult gamers, this is a great choice if you like playing games with your kids--it has an extensive (and very fun) co-op mode.

The gameplay can be simple at times, but it's a blast to smash everything in sight and collect Lego studs; the cutscenes are humorous and entertaining; many of the puzzles could even stump adults for a while; and even after beating all levels, there's still tons of extras.

Gameplay sum up: The base gameplay consists of you (and your AI or human partner--just press start at any time to jump in and out as the secondary character) picking a level from the main hub, the Batcave (later on, the villains hub, Arkham Asylum), and then navigating the pseudo 2D/3D side-scrolling levels, while fighting enemies, solving puzzles, dodging traps, and above all, smashing every object in sight, which will reward you with Lego studs (the game's currency). After you play through a few levels, you'll battle a boss at the end and then move onto the next chapter and its levels.

To successfully traverse through levels, Batman and Robin (and later on, the villains) will have to rebuild Lego blocks into useful objects, drive a variety of vehicles and use the suit power-ups stations (which are scattered about levels, and give Batman and Robin unique abilities) to move on (villians have their existing powers). In addition, you'll be using Lego studs to buy extra characters and cheats; collect mini-kits to unlock viewable trophies; and use a certain room in the Arkham Asylum to mix up all of the characters' parts and create custom ones--which you can then use in any of the game's levels.

(The Wii version includes motion controls; you'll shake the Wiimote to attack; and when using the Batarang, you'll use the cursor to aim for targets.)

Cartoon violence: Lego Batman is, of course, set in the Batman universe, and this means you'll be seeing (and playing) a plethora of familiar characters from this mythose, mainly Batman and Robin. You'll also be fighting and eventually playing as iconic villains like the Joker, Cat Woman, the Penguin, the Riddler, Two Face, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and even lesser known villains like Clayface and Killer Moth. All the cutscenes are done like silent movies, with no dialog (okay, some incoherent mumbling), and only the characters' many comedic movements to express the finer points of the game's humorous, silly and somewhat vague storyline.

The tone of violence in cutscenes is very cartoony, consisting of your basic comic mischief (A.K.A Looney Toons, or any cartoon for that matter), with plenty of goofy situations involving the game's characters. There's a few explosions set off by the villains; many of their lackeys are equipped with guns; you see things along the line of the Joker spraying laughing gas on civilians--but none of them are killed, let alone harmed; and there's even some mild suggestive content, with Catwoman smooching the reluctant Batman in an exaggerated fashion (leaving lipstick marks all over his face), while Robin looks on in obvious disgust; and the Joker's female side-kick, Harley, kisses him all over the face, causing him to fall down in surprise.

The gameplay's tone of violence is nearly identical to cutscenes, with the playable characters being able to punch and kick their enemies (some playable villains are equipped with guns), resulting in the enemies falling apart into their disassembled Lego forms, and then immediately disappearing. You can try and hit civilians spread throughout the levels, but fortunately, the game doesn't allow you to (in the good guy campaign that is). However, you can hit your sidekick (both in the single-player and multi-player) as many times as (and whenever) you want, resulting in them falling apart, and then immediately reappearing (which could get on your playing partner's nerves ;P), and levels are also moderately destructible, with you being able to smash (sometimes blow up) anything from trash cans to dump trucks.

Lastly, you will be playing as the main villains later on, and their campaign is available after completing one chapter in the hero's story. You then switch over to Arkham Asylum (where the villains' rival lackeys fight amongst can join in), and start playing. The villains' missions consist of stealing, while fighting their main enemy: police officers. And on top of this, they can destroy the civilians. Good concept for younger It's simply more suited to older kids.

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