Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Review

Played on Windows.
Also available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, PlayStation 4, macOS, iPhone, Android, 3DS, Vita, and Wii U.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is the fourteenth or fifteenth Traveller’s Tale Lego game, depending on how you want to count The Lego Movie Videogame. I’ve actually played every single Lego game up to this point, with the exception of Lego Star Wars 3. Something about these games speaks to me. Whether it be the gamification of Legos, or the Legoification of movies, or just the simplistic gameplay to see what might happen next, I’m there. So let’s see if Lego can keep this train running after all these titles.

A little background on me, so you understand who is evaluating this game. I’m probably more of a Marvel comics fan than a DC comics fan. However, I think Batman as a character is fantastic and may be one of my favorite superheroes, after Deadpool and maybe Spider-man. I’ve loved most of his adaptations as well, though not Batman and Robin… never Batman and Robin. The Caped Crusader is just a great character that there’s so much that has been done with him and yet there’s still so much more that can be done. So, I came into this game with a lot of expectations. This isn’t just a normal superhero, it’s Batman.

The original Lego Batman was very good. It retained the old style of Lego games without voices and was generally inventive and funny. Lego Batman 2 added an open world city, and voices, and it also was pretty entertaining. The open world was a little too big for my tastes, but it’s now almost a standard in the series, with Marvel Super Heroes also doing it. Lego Batman 2 had a pretty good story as well, even if it cheated and added in a good amount of DC cameos that might not have been necessary, it still felt like a “Batman” game. I was wondering what I would see in this game.

Well, Lego Batman 3 starts with characters from various different Lantern Corps showing up and then getting attacked by Brainiac. Wait, what? So admittedly I’m not a Green Lantern fan, at least not to the point where I know anyone other than Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Sinestro. I still haven’t even seen the movie with Ryan Reynolds. But this is Lego Batman 3 right? Why are Brainiac, a Superman villain, and the Lanterns in the opening? We’ll get there, but if you’re hearing a warning sound, listen to it, something isn’t right here.


Neither of these two feel like Batman to me.

So after that scene, the game actually begins with the first level. Batman is chasing Killer Croc through the sewers. This was what I signed up for, a good classic Lego Batman level. You destroy everything in sight and complete a few minor puzzles. I’ll get to the gameplay eventually, but the level is solid. You finish the level and see Killer Croc meeting with a number of villains. Then you get a second video of the Lanterns Corps, excluding Hal, fighting Brainiac. Again, I asked the question, why?

So the second stage starts after an interlude. Now the interludes between levels are not in an open world but rather a transitional level between locations. Then eventually the transition levels stop appearing about halfway through the game, allowing the player to select a level they want to play. The connection between levels helps guide the game but when the game gives up on them, it feels like it’s not even trying anymore. It just wants to get through this as quick as you might.

So the second stage begins where Batman gets mind controlled and you play as Robin and Alfred, which is an interesting choice, however, Robin has all the power and Alfred basically can use his platter as Captain America’s shield in the Marvel games, to walk over a fire. It’s an interesting opportunity that gets squandered, sadly. Batman comes off as a jerk to both Robin and Alfred. He insults Robin and seems to scold him.

I get that the story wants to have Batman be cold and he eventually will warm up to people over the game, but Lego Batman 3 doesn’t feel like it earns this. Instead, you just get a Batman who’s rude and demeaning to Robin for no reason and at the end realizes “Oh, friends are good”. It is attempting to use the modern interpretation of Batman that has worked in a number of versions, but here, it comes off as just rudeness rather than a developed character. The game doesn’t give a back story to him to earn that mantle.

So after the second level, everything starts to turn. The Lantern Corp characters are captured, Watchtower and Martian Manhunter have been called in, and the Justice League is summoned. I won’t go much farther but we’ve got to the point I wanted to reach in the discussion of the story. It’s my big issue with Lego Batman 3.

I don’t think it is really a Batman game. It tries to be, and it focuses a little too much on him because of the name, but it is really a Justice League game or a DC crossover. If they called this “Lego Justice League” I might have fewer problems, but instead of getting a really good Batman game, the story gives me a Justice League game where Batman is the main character. It’s not unheard of in the Justice League comments, but it doesn’t work as well here because the game is trying not to be a Justice League game, even though it is one.

Worse, the heroes even team up with the villains quite early in the game, likely to increase the character count, and it just feels unnecessary. There are also some really obvious missed chances here. Mr. Freeze shows up for about 10 seconds. Harley is in the credits and DLC, and Penguin is only in the bonus level. Some of Batman’s best villains are left on the sidelines. Instead, we get Lex Luthor which was a good addition, and Cheetah, which is not a villain I really know at all, outside of Injustice 2. Again though, this is Lego BATMAN, not Lego Justice league so the focus on non-Batman villains seems equally misplaced.

The issue I have with the game is it feels like they ran out of Lego Batman games, and were contractually obligated to make a third one, whereas they really wanted to make a DC universe game (which their next game will be with Lego DC Super-Villains). The story doesn’t have the pull of the previous games, and maybe part of that is being a casual fan of DC, but at the same time, the game feels like it’s trying to be a Lego Batman game often enough that I question which direction the game really wants to go.

It’s not just the direction that has the issues there are a lot of really bad jokes in the game. There are lines that I just don’t get. “I thought Batman could breathe in outer space”. Is that a reference to a specific comic?. “Being President is so last year”. Uhh, the game was made in 2014, I don’t get that one either. The fact is the writing just isn’t there, and I almost long for the days of the silent characters.


Batman, please hurt the Joker for me.

It’s not that there’s no effort in the game, it’s just that it doesn’t feel like it panned out to make a cohesive and interesting story and experience, and as such, I’m not a big fan of Lego Batman 3. Even if it was “Lego Justice League” I feel the story is overall weak and focuses on one big boss for all the levels, rather than giving different situations or different movies to follow. In most Lego games, every 6 levels is a movie and even in those that aren’t based on a movie, the story evolves, here there’s no evolution. The villain in the first scene is the villain in the last scene.

However the story is only one part, the gameplay is what always interests me in Lego games. Even Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, a series of movies I really haven’t watched past the first worked for me, so the gameplay should hold this together.

Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag there too. The first thing is there’s a good character list here. It’s 160 characters without the DLC characters counting. That’s a rather large roster for a Lego game, and impressive in its own right. Now there’s of course duplicates, goons, and versions of characters, but that’s now almost a staple of the series, and I’ll give a pass because they’re optional.

There’s a weird scene at the ending of the game which showed a bunch of characters arriving. Perhaps it’s a hint at the next game, but why show a bunch of other characters that could have been featured in the game. Some of them are Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Aquaman. The characters are in the game as unlockables but all of them could have been featured in at least a single level.

The featured characters, meaning the ones in the story mode, are really good. Many of them have “suits” so they can switch powers as necessary, and there is a good selection of them. Wonder Woman and Superman have little bonuses, so when they fly, you hear her 70s theme song and his John Williams Score. That’s a great touch, though the songs stop when they land and restart but I like it.

In addition, the character that calls for help is actually Adam West, who supposedly becomes a playable character after he is rescued 30 different times. That’s a nice touch as well and it’s an excellent tribute to him, and the bonus level is actually based on the 60s show and I have to say that also is great to play. I almost wonder if this game was ever meant to be a tribute to the 60s show due to the bat suits and gadgets, but whether it was or wasn’t, it’s a nice memorial for him now that he has passed.

Overall the character list is solid. If it was really a Lego Justice League I’d have liked to see more use of the characters, but as a Batman game, I feel too many non-batman characters get a lot of attention. But I can’t fault this game for a large cast. This is Lego after all, and more characters are usually a great sign.

Still, I did mention the suits. Batman and Robin get the ability to switch to different “bat suits”, such as a sonic suit to shatter glass or a space suit that fires a laser. This is very batmanesque especially if I’m right and it was supposed to be based on the 60s show. Modern Batman doesn’t switch suits or use as many gadgets in the movies, but it does work well with the Lego setup.

Switching suits could be a pain especially if you have to constantly go between two of them, but the game seems to know what fans will have problems with and mostly develops an auto switch system. If you walk up to something as normal Batman and need to shatter glass, a B prompt will appear over your head, and you’ll change into Sonic Batman. From there you can just break the glass, then if you need to use an illumination suit, you can switch with another press of B.

The smart switching is a great quality of life, but it’s also necessary due to how many times Batman needs to change suits while solving puzzles. Robin gets a unique set of suits from Batman as well, so both Batman and Robin get a normal outfit, and then seven special suits apiece for a total of 14 special abilities for the dynamic duo.

The downside is a number of characters also get “suits” including Cyborg, the Joker, and Lex. Characters like Flash, Wonder Woman, and Superman don’t, but it seems that a few characters get these “suit” power-ups, though they get the same suits that the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder already have.

What really hurts my enjoyment though is by level 7 or 8 I had seen every power in the game except for one power that’s unlocked at the very end of the game. Most of the Lego games continue to give characters who have new powers so you have a new arsenal as you beat more levels. But in Lego Batman, you get almost every power before the halfway point and almost no new featured characters show up after that.

There’s even a part where you select which level out of six available levels you want to do next late in the game, and maybe that’s why the powers are all front-loaded, but it’s not a great answer and you have to play all the levels anyway. So you get an inferior experience with the powers to get a more open experience with the level choice. I dislike it if that’s the reason why.

The fact that most characters share powers make very few of them stand out. Almost every character can pull a handle, via some rope or pulley. Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman can fly, but so can Batman and Lex if they get a jetpack fuel station. Superman can use his laser to cut through gold objects, but so can Martian Manhunter, Batman, and Lex. Then Wonder Woman also can reflect beams to do the same if necessary.

Very few characters feel unique or special. Alfred’s use of a tray as a shield is also done by Lex when he gets a special suit for it. Robin gets a mostly unique power of turning into a ball (something that was done in Lego Batman 2) but I believe I only used it two or three times Oh and Joker has it too.

When no character really feels special, that’s a shame especially when we’re talking about Superheroes. They shouldn’t all play the same, and ultimately that’s what Lego Batman 3 does to the huge collection of characters. In previous games, the game held back really powerful characters who could do everything. However here, Batman is a really powerful character who can do everything, as is Robin, as is Cyborg. Joker and Lex also get that level of power. So really what makes them that different?

Even the power reuse becomes a puzzle, and not in a good way. There’s a level somewhere that I was Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, and I was stuck. I finally figured out the next step and built a “Flash pad” which I thought meant I had to free Flash in some way and get him to use his pad to build something. Why does Flash build? I don’t know, but we’ll go with it.

So I couldn’t find Flash and I went over the room four or five times. Then I accidentally stepped on the pad and it flashed a B over my head. I was Superman though, not Flash. Oh well, Superman apparently has Flash’s speed power. Now I know about the famous debate of who’s fastest, Flash or Superman, but this game basically took the only reason to be the Flash and gave it to Superman. Why? Why can’t Flash have a unique power? It’s not even being fast, it’s building. Yet, Superman can do it now.

In addition, the real puzzles in the game are mostly to match a color that blinks or click all the objects in a scanned image. These are the standard puzzles for the Lego series but there’s an odd puzzle in the first room of the first level of Lego Batman 3. It is a pipe dream style puzzle where you twist pipes. There’s an extra pipe in the puzzle, and it can lead to a small amount of confusion if you think like I did, that all the pieces should be used. In fact, it excited me because I felt that it meant the puzzles in Lego Batman finally have taken a step forward.

It wasn’t to be. The puzzles in Lego Batman 3 are the same puzzles they have always been. That one puzzle just has an extra piece and maybe that’s to fool people who play the demo and think like I did, or maybe it just didn’t playtest well and they never fixed it. Ultimately the puzzles feel a bit stale even in the Lego Batman series, but in general, we’ve seen these types of puzzles for every game, and I wish they were a bit better here.

The thing is I felt bored while playing Lego Batman 3, and I admit I get bored playing most Lego games at some point when going for 100 percent, but Lego Batman 3 bored me around level 5, and then again around level 7. The game was mostly going through the motions and I wasn’t interested in seeing the next scene.

In Lego Marvel Superhero, I wanted to beat the next boss and then see it evolve the next piece of the story and see who I was up against. In Lego Pirates as little as I know about the movie, there was something more I wanted to see. Lego Star Wars made me wonder how they were going to do a certain fight, or what zany thing is coming up. Lego Batman 3 does none of that.

I feel that the passion for this project might not have been there. The inclusion of Green Lantern and the Justice League pretty much from the get-go make me think that this was made more due to either having the license or having made a promise to make three of the games. The lack of the large metropolis that was in Lego Batman 2 feels like someone didn’t really take the time to fully develop that area, though I will say when the game does have the planet hubs, it’s an interesting change, but not necessarily a better one as they’re small and limited.

There’s just a feeling that this was more necessary to make than made out of that pure passion for either Legos or Batman, and that lack of passion comes through to the consumer. I accepted the lackluster Lego Marvel Avengers because I felt that they gave me what they said they would, and I just wanted something different. As I played Lego Batman 3, I asked: “did anyone really want this?” If it was a Lego Justice League, we could have seen more diverse powers and unique powers. The story didn’t have to focus so much on Batman being a jerk. You could introduce all the villains you wanted in that game.

But, I was sold Lego Batman 3, and the fact is, I didn’t find it that interesting of a game. It’s a real shame because Lego Batman and Lego Batman 2 were big milestones for the series of Lego games, one had the first voice acting in the series, and the other was the first game after Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Is the milestone here, the fact that this was the first game I didn’t like?

I also ran into two glitches. One happened on a level that just closed the game, and I was forced to reopen it. The second glitch happened on a boss about 10 levels into the game and I didn’t think I could save so I had to replay the entire level a second time.

The second glitch actually made me put down the game and consider moving on to another game. It wasn’t the glitch but just the lack of enjoyment of the game. It’s not an awful game, and it works, but it just didn’t compel me to keep playing it. I did pick the controller up again but I did take a couple hours between sessions.

There are a few other things I should bring up. The celebrity Cameos run the gauntlet. Adam West is a freaking legend and I will NEVER complain about his inclusion in any Batman property. Then Conan O’Brien appears and is a guide around locations, just talking about them. I know he has the “Flaming C” concept and that was really funny. But it’s not the Flaming C leading you around, it’s Conan O’Brien the talk show host? Why? It’s bizarre.


This feels totally unneeded.

Then there’s Kevin Smith who pops up in the credits. He has a good line, but the dude is only in the credits, and he’s a huge Batman nerd. Why didn’t he play the guide?

Speaking of the Credits, there are a few scenes in between them which are fine, but between the scenes Adam West Batman and Burt Ward Robin climb a building with a few gags. Those scenes actually repeat. Why repeat them? There’s a ton of questions like this where I’m a bit confused because I feel that someone forgot something to make such an obvious mistake.

The game also boots up and tries to connect to Lego Batman Servers. This is one of my pet peeves of the modern Lego games. It’s not exclusive to Lego Batman 3, and I won’t ding it just for this, but it’s still a crappy user experience, and it’s only done to try to sell DLC.

Speaking of the DLC, I grabbed the season pass for a couple of dollars. It’s a mixed bag, but I can go over it quickly.

There’s an Arrow level that’s just a single level of him being on the island if you know the show you know what island I mean. It does contain a great side character to play as, but it’s not a very interesting level, mostly dealing with combat, and getting a bow. Arrow isn’t even really the hero of it, the side character is more of the main character in some ways.

Suicide Squad is a decent level, but the level has Deathstroke? Guys? He wasn’t in the movie! It has someone breaking into the Suicide Squad prison, but you get to the end and you find the enemy is detained already. So The Squad has been assembled for no reason. Why even hint at a boss?

Following that motif, Bizarro is a level that teases Darkseid. You do a few things (not even that many interesting, just play with Bizarro characters) And the level ends without seeing Darkseid, instead “Superman came and beat him up.” What? Again why hint at a boss that doesn’t exist.

Man of Steel is just the prologue. You know the very long part of the movie that people seem to be ambivalent toward? That’s the scene. There’s a Batman 75th celebration that is decent where Harley (finally) and Joker redecorate a party. And then there’s the Dark Knight Trilogy… which is only Joker, so it’s just “Dark Knight”. Sigh.

The DLC isn’t bad though when compared to the base game. I think I enjoyed those levels more than the main game, but it seems heavily unfocused. Out of the list, only 3 of the 6 levels are even related to Batman. Arrow, Man of Steel, and Bizarro aren’t really Lego Batman material.

This game is sad because I tend to give an accepting nod to Lego games. They are intended for kids and they should be fun. They’re not deep, they’re not amazing after the first couple, and mostly I just play them to kill a decent amount of time. Lego Batman 3 wasn’t even able to do that, it just wasn’t a lot of fun to play, and what I assume is the lack of passion in making it, hurts the final product.

I’m not trying to insult the team behind it, but that passion is what I play games for. If it’s not there, it can get obvious and I feel like Lego Batman 3 is missing it in the worst ways. It’s possible that the real issue is the game never really surprises the user. You know what you’re building almost every time, there’s never a shock where something anachronistic pops up in the game, and that’s part of the fun of this series. Now it’s possible this could also be a contractual issue, but that missed opportunity may have turned the game around.

Whether that’s the reason or not, I just can’t recommend this game, there’s enough wrong with it that I didn’t enjoy myself, and that’s a sad thing because I like Lego games, but Lego Batman 3 just isn’t what I wanted. The good news is there are two other Lego Batman games that are worth playing, but that leads me to give this game a…

2/5

Final thought: It’s a Lego Batman game, but out of the trilogy of Lego Batman games, it’s a distant third. There are better Lego Games and better Batman games, ultimately this is skippable except for collectors.

Stats 17.8 hours, 49/70 achievements earned.

I bought this and the season pass during a steam sale for myself.

I’ve recorded a Last Look/Review for this game as well, it’s available here:

One thought on “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Review

Comments are closed.