LEGO Batman: the best Batman game yet?

LEGO Batman: The Videogame

Wholly original, Batman!

LEGO Batman presents an original story based on the comic book lore, developed internally by Traveller's Tales and sanctioned by DC comics. The action starts after an exodus from Arkham Asylum, as a mob of Batman's most notorious archenemies break loose and create the kind of havoc and mass hysteria that results in the Batsignal flaring high in the clouds over Gotham City.

"The villains team up into three groups," says Doyle, "each headed by a massive supervillain, with some other bad guys teaming up with them." Those ringleaders would be The Joker, The Penguin, and The Riddler. They're supported by over 20 partners in crime, including well-known Batman villains such as Mr. Freeze and more obscure rogues like Killer Croc.

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Mr. Freeze and Scarecrow are just two of dozens of Batman characters that are playable in LEGO Batman.

Fan-favorite Harley Quinn was also recently announced as the right-hand woman to her boyfriend, Mistah Jay (aka The Joker). Of course, all of the characters are represented with mini figures, or "minifigs," which are LEGO recreations of their iconic appearances. "It's the little touches that give the minifigs their character," explains Doyle, who will have his hands full with this sprawling roster of villains. Each of the enemies has a unique attack, such as The Joker's electrified hand buzzer. Many of them also have special abilities: The Penguin can take flight with his high-tech umbrella, and also traverse confined spaces thanks to his squat stature. Catwoman wields her trademark whip and a very appropriate super jump, Scarecrow emits fear gas, and Two-Face flips a LEGO coin before making decisions. Doyle also promises that some of the lesser-known characters will be the most fun to play. "I love Killer Croc," he says. "As a mini figure, he looks amazing, he's a chucking-people-around kind of bad guy. He even picks up busses."

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This epic trial for Batman and Robin will unfold in a linear story that encompasses eighteen unique locations, each with two distinct playable areas. We checked out a very early build of the game for Xbox 360, and the set design seemed heavily inspired by the visuals of early-90's Batman, including Batman: The Animated Series and the Tim Burton films. Batfans won't be disappointed by the familiar, yet wholly original Gotham City as represented here, which offers a far more gritty and lifelike verisimilitude than in LEGO Star Wars. The wet, grimy streets of Gotham have been faithfully created with excellent details, like reflections in puddles and gritty, bumpmapped textures, while the tone nimbly merges the pantomime humor of the LEGO series with the gothic action of the comic and the creepy, sadistic humor famously employed by Batman's most iconic villains.

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Hugh Sterbakov

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