With a distinct lack of Vita specific reviews around for this newest release from Traveller's Tales in the Lego series. The game is obviously a follow up to the first Lego Batman game and let's start by saying it plays exactly like other Lego games I've played. If you've played Lego Star Wars, Harry Potter or Batman before then you'll know what to expect.
Despite some of the misleading write ups on sales websites (including Amazon), the game does not include an open world Gotham City as the full console versions do. The game is instead based on the PSP and DS build of the game. This heritage shows itself particularly in the cut scenes that play out in a startlingly low resolution that look truly horrendous on the Vita's beautiful OLED screen. This is a great shame as the comic story telling is truly a joy in the modern, hyper violent game world. The dynamic between Batman and Superman is consistently amusing with Robin's idolisation for The Man of Steel only adding to Batman's irritation. Whilst the resolution is incredibly poor they are still watchable and fun. One slightly jarring sign that the game is shoehorned together from other ideas is the fact that characters in these cut-scenes will at times be wearing costumes that not only were you not wearing at the end of the stage but that don't even exist in the Vita version of the game. It's this sort of shoddy work that makes the game seem a little like an insult to Vita gamers.
Instead of the open world the game is played out in continuous stages with a Bat Cave hub accessible at the end of each stage to create characters and enter game modes such as Justice League and Freeplay. Whilst it is a shame that the game lacks this mode, there is a feeling of, 'If it's not broke, why fix it.' and the level to level gameplay is fun. Without having played the full console version it's impossible for me to say how much of a loss the open world and vehicles etcetera are.
The graphics in the actual game are good and look very close to the console version of the game. Things have the usual Lego charm all around and the stages are nicely designed with enough density to keep you collecting for some time.
The talking minifigures actually added to the story sections for me and didn't make the game lack charm as many have complained. Much of the humour is still apparent and the nice dialogue is added to the clever physical comedy that Traveller's Tales Lego games are so famous for. Sound in general is a little tinny but this is largely a problem with the Vita itself and is cleared up a lot with a good set of headphones plugged in instead of relying on the onboard speakers. Traveller's Tales have certainly put some effort in to the voice actors including big game voice actor Nolan North and Hollywood 'star' Clancy Brown.
One of the game's strongest points is the fan service that it pays. I'm broadly a superhero fan and dozens of DC Heroes and Villains show up at some point. From the expected arrival of the likes of Superman and The Penguin to the slightly more obscure Captain Boomerang and Hawkman the game is littered with heroes and villains. The opening chapter alone has The Caped Crusader plouging through a large number of villains in quick succession. The first time Superman arrived gave me a little buzz of joy with the familiar John Williams score and flapping red cape.
Overall this is a lazy port for the Vita. As it's not Traveller's Tales first Vita release (Harry Potter Years 5-7 is already out), I would have expected a little more effort from the company. From the low resolution cut-scenes to the lack of any open world it is a great shame that more effort wasn't put in. The Lego game magic is still here in spades. It's a fun addition to the Lego series and as a superhero fan it was an enjoyable way to spend some portable time. I hope that future Lego games (I'm looking at you Lego Lord of the Rings), port the big console version to the extremely powerful Vita and not leave portable gamers with a watered down version.
- Great fun gameplay (and replayability) that's good for the whole family.
- Enjoyable cut scenes.
- Stacks of great DC Universe characters.
- Any game worth playing on the Vita is a good thing.
- Lack of the Gotham City open world from the full console version.
- Terrible resolution on the cut-scenes.
- Lazy port of PSP/DS version that lacks love and attention.