We've often got nice things to say about Traveller's Tales' games. It's clear that the formula they've been perfecting for a decade now is working well, because time after time they deliver accomplished games. They do this by combining the magic of Lego - universally loved by children of all ages - with pure fan service, using popular franchises such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Marvel and, last but not least, the characters from DC Comics.
The DC super heroes are the new protagonists of Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the latest chapter of the Lego saga dedicated to the famous Dark Knight, who, on this occasion, leaves behind his usual gothic setting - the mythical Gotham City - to venture out into deep space, along with his trusted side-kick Robin, and the entire Justice League.
What's the purpose of this new mission? The heroes have to stop and destroy the evil Brainiac, who - after getting his hands on the magic rings of power - wants to turn everything in the entire universe into toy models and add them to his crazy collection. In pursuing Brainiac, Batman and the Justice League will journey on an adventure through the space, visiting alien planets and more. Buckle up: our trip between planets in the name of justice has just begun!
There is one thing that we've always loved in TT Games' Lego titles; we always have plenty of things to do into these game worlds. Even if Beyond Gotham has a strong linear through-line when it comes to narrative, and the whole structure of the game is strongly linked to it, we appreciated that the main plot is just half of the game, leaving the player with total freedom across the open world that has been put together for this latest episode. It's true, we're obsessed with collectibles and in every area we visit we destroy everything around us in search of the items and extras that are hidden across the map. From this point of view there's plenty of longevity here, extending the experience far beyond that of the main story and the falling of the end credits.
With regards to gameplay, TT Games doesn't make great strides over the previous Lego games, instead they chose to keep the already well-established formula, adding to an already large roster of characters with new heroes (along with alternative versions of them), with special costumes that unlock specific skills.
The different costumes are used to solve the many puzzles that are strewn around the many areas you'll visit, and even if they're not complex, they'll require you to consider the different possible uses of the costumes if you're to get past the puzzles. Compared to its predecessors, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is more challenging, something that perhaps makes it less accessible to younger gamers - usually the audience for Lego titles - but at the same, this makes the game more appealing to an older crowd who've been longing for slightly more challenging entry in the series. In our opinion it's an excellent addition to the franchise, and one that lets TT Games for once shake off the label of "family entertainment".
And it's to the adults that TT Games winks continuously, via a series of cheeky quotes and jokes, offered at regular intervals throughout the game. You'll find Adam West appearing as a guest star (he's the iconic 60s Batman if you don't know - kapow), and he must be saved through small and near-impossible mini-games. There's references to Tron and Resogun, there's the wonderful soundtrack by Danny Elfmann directly from Burton's Batman, and of course there's the constant nods to the wider DC universe. Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is full of references and citations, and had us repeatedly laughing and smiling throughout our adventure, proving once again the care and detail that the team at TT Games puts in their titles.
The same care is evident in the rich and detailed scenes and puzzles that characterise the different areas of the game. Once again there's no signs of realism; the world built out of Lego by TT is toy-tastic. Graphically, the whole experience has a nice flow, it's colourful, magical almost. There's alternating grey and cold colours in some of the space interiors, with the aesthetic shifting to more colourful moments as you explore further and in different places.
This is pure fan service, and this time it comes with content geared more towards adults, and especially for DC fans. Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham reaffirms the considerable ability of the studio, and the resultant quality that's now an undisputed trademark of the Lego series is once again present. Although the game doesn't shine when it comes to originality, the new Lego Batman is a high-quality title that will prompt much laughter and provide hours of fun for all fans of the DC universe.