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LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes - Wii U Review

Game Info
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Wii U | Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment / Traveller's Tales | 1-2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii U GamePad; Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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31st May 2013; By KnucklesSonic8

Seeing LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes piggyback off LEGO City: Undercover's ongoing momentum, things may just get territorial between the two. As if everyone on the schoolyard were flocking to a charismatic new arrival and the self-appointed leader of an existing clique walks over to enforce their commanding reputation. No intention exists on LEGO Batman 2's part to usurp Undercover's territory. Rather, it aims to escort those hankering for a traditional LEGO game to a tried-and-true mold, in some ways salvaging the components that were diluted or done away with by its brotherly departure. Anyone who's been out-of-touch with the series may have to do some yielding, recognizing that Undercover is the much more driven execution. The attire is quite different, with the two, though sharing some embedded traits, being different pools of ideas. This upscaled port may yet still reach its niche audience, albeit it's been made more narrow and boxed-in by some of the decisions ruling its direction.

    The great thing about immersing yourself into the world of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes after having experienced LEGO City: Undercover is how closely the two bear similarities in the control department, making it easy to jump from one to the other without much training or re-acquainting required. ZL, ZR, and the X Button all allow for swaps between the different partners in your party, which can reach up to six at a time, and your main attacks are relegated to the Y Button, with Batman's Batarang becoming active when you hold it down. Aiming was originally tied to the Wii Remote's pointer, but it's not greatly missed here, as the L-Stick works just fine when using the GamePad. This goes for all other mechanics running under the same setup.

The only adjustment needed will be with regards to the vehicular and flight controls -- those are still problematic at times and the organization of both is rather nuanced. Other quirks existing in the original version of the game are still seen here, such as when trying to jump down from a grip. Or it's just the combat itself, which often shuffles between bland and predictable versus eventful, depending on if you have suits equipped (which tends to impact grabs in a positive way) and who you're controlling. Robin's fighting style is less weak than Batman's, for example, while other heroes have their own tools and weapons of choice that push for an additional layer -- even while this is never actually reached.

    With LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes now being presented in HD (versus SD with the Wii version), flashier visuals are to be noted (and expected) on a comprehensive level. The upgrade has made lighting much stronger, spawning authentic shadows and reflections. But sometimes the brightness levels lack balance and can be blinding or it's too dark to make out solids and navigate effectively. This is especially so on the GamePad, with graphics being more refined when viewed on the television screen.

While I'd still say the Wii version had more bugs to work out, the Wii U version isn't exactly what I'd consider fully-enhanced either. Audio issues are surprisingly more prevalent than before, with at least one case of repeating dialogue and a much more common situation of crackling sounds. The few framerate disruptions that occur are very infrequent and don't last long when they seldom appear. Camera faults are still present and these do interfere with the design at times, with players being unable to distinguish the main path against environmental aesthetics. Other glitches include one area where a glass crack flickers like a mouse-over state as you move left and right, and a boss transition failing to trigger. While the increased definition makes anyone who played the Wii version feel treated, the lack of corrective measures in other aspects is disappointing.

    Revisiting LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is educational in the sense of seeing how the design stacks up over a longer run. Me, I already found the game's design to be not at its best, and this was only solidified as I toured Gotham City once again. A considerable number of the individual elements put in place are still healthy contributions to the environment's platforming focus and the odd puzzle integration -- Sensor Suit use being one example. By the same token, the weaker aspects have gone unfixed, with select missions instigating offsets in balance; suit responsiveness still being finicky or acting haywire; AI being utterly useless at times; and the level design itself being clumsy in places, aggravated by the aforementioned camera concerns that make judging distance and overall navigation a combined case of trial-and-error and guesswork.

    This point about making revisions where it was needed is rather critical, and I can assure you there were places where such was the case and they had enough space to directly address these. If they weren't going to add anything new, this just comes across as a lack of decency and commitment. The main highlight in this case would be GamePad incorporation, but it is in many ways treated as the only highlight.

    Rather than always having to run to map terminals and rely on a semi-impractical radar to get around, the entire game world's blueprint is projected onto the GamePad screen with added zoom options and a (redundant) compass. During levels, the GamePad is rather bare when Off-TV Play is disabled and you're on your own, featuring only character icons set to an unattractive backdrop. Touch controls for character swapping is what's being offered here, but the only time it exceeds the convenience of using ZL and ZR is with missions involving an entire four- or six-person crew. Even then, its response isn't always instantaneous, giving weight to lingering feelings that this should've been used for HUD purposes instead. It's truly not that great of a draw.

    What is, however, is how co-op is approached. What might've been seen in the past as a shackle to the multiplayer experience, the dynamic split-screen is no longer the default option. Player 1 now having the GamePad screen to look at frees up the television screen for just Player 2 to focus on, and to do so with a much-improved awareness of their surroundings. And if only to experience LEGO games in a new way not previously realized, it gives the Wii U version of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes something not only tangible but actually influential beyond just re-mapped control schemes and sharper visuals.

    Admittedly, those who've been spoiled on Miiverse features and the like in other Wii U games -- and for that matter, DLC offered in other versions of this game -- may feel the case isn't strong enough for a re-investment. And sad to say, a bad pricing decision will only validate such a viewpoint.

    Truth be told, I feel as though the publishers didn't do enough research into the market and have shot themselves in the foot with the $50 price tag they've attached to the game. At present, new copies of other platform versions go for $20 at most, so a $30 difference is very unreasonable, even for those who've yet to experience the game. Much better for it to be $29.99, just going by how other versions of the nearly year-old game are priced, but I can understand if they felt they'd be undervaluing the game by mixing it with the same company as budget offerings. In which case, $39.99 still would've been a more appropriate choice, seeing as that's how much The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition, another enhanced port, goes for.

To be frank, only really enthusiastic fans of the original will find reason to begin anew under these terms, as even those who this release is ideally made for will have trouble weighing the scales. Affecting your outlook are not only the recurring design and technical issues, but also a price tag that's foolishly lofty. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, as a base game, is a fresh but flawed entry with a lot to like, the Wii U version helping it flourish a few inches more with a less limiting co-op experience. But beyond appreciating how the developers have paved future entries to be better received on this platform, the showing here isn't definitive enough or as full as it could've been to merit repeated exposure at a less-than-sensible price.

20/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Both positive elements and clumsy design, control quirks, AI still questionable, freeing split-screen approach and improved navigation
Presentation 7/10 - Sharper visuals, brightness levels are off in places, audio and responsiveness issues, glitches and camera problems still present
Enjoyment 3/5 - Offers a stronger multiplayer experience, GamePad usage not that strong of a draw to re-invest for, recurring issues disappoint
Extra Content 3/5 - Plenty of exploration to be done around Gotham City, no bonus features, missing DLC from other versions, takes a hit for the price

Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
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