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Lego Batman 2
Bar Harbor
Just finished playing Lego Batman 2. The basic formula is the standard Lego one, with lots of smashing bricks and unlockable characters. Similar to the first Lego Batman, Batman and Robin have many different suits providing different abilities. They are generally cooler than the suits in LB1, however, and each one has at least two major gameplay functions, so the designers can vary the challenges a bit more.

New to this installment is a GTA-style explorable Gotham City that is impressively large and detailed. It's clearly heavily inspired by Anton Furst's "Gothic meets Deco" designs for the 1989 Batman film, with giant statuary holding up lots of the architecture. When those giant human figures are actually gigantic Lego minifigs, the effect sits delightfully between creepy and charming. The game mechanics of clearing fog of war from the map of Gotham, and of finding the many, many collectable objects scattered around it, are well-tuned to my taste. The map has a "Scan" function that hits the sweet spot between making things too easy and frustrating needle-in-a-haystack searches.

Also new to this game is the fact that the characters are all fully voiced. Standouts: Troy "Booker" Baker gives a fine performance as Batman, and Clancy Brown reprises his animated role as Lex Luthor. The voicing allows the designers to craft a surprisingly intricate plot which, again, hits a sweet spot for me. The writers clearly have a love for superheroes and their long history, while at the same time understanding how fundamentally silly many of their tropes are and being willing to make fun of them. I had a number of legitimately laugh-out-loud reactions to plot twists, and even, surprisingly, one heart-stoppingly tense moment of "I can't believe they *went* there". [The script even has a couple of funny call-outs to Batman: Arkham City, a game with similar love for the source material, but less ability to laugh at themselves.]

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This is probably the most convincing game review I've ever read.

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