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Lego Batman is the latest in a series of Lego themed movie tie in games. As with the other titles in the series (Lego Star Wars DS and Lego Indiana Jones DS), it uses the franchise's Lego kits as the building blocks of the game.
Action adventure games are enjoyed for two reasons. They provide a variety of fast action encounters where you are fighting, fleeing or evading some enemy. They also provide a large world in which to explore and adventure. This exploration is usually driven by some particular plot-tension introduced early in the game that you must resolve.
As you adventure through the world, you encounter the action sequences through encounters with enemies and general hazards. Success in these encounters opens up more of the world to explore and provide new equipment.
The game is in the action adventure style, where players work their way through a series of puzzle and henchmen brawls before confronting an end level boss. The heroes, bad guys and story all take their cue from the Batman films. Not only that but cut scenes provide more than a nod to Batman's comic book beginnings - telling a story in pictorial form easily understood by younger players without the need to read dialog.
Most levels revolve around using Batman and Robin's different abilities to unlock doors, circumvent poisonous gas and generally foil Gotham's miniature Lego villains. Although in miniature and not as expansive, there are quite a few similarities here to the Zelda games. The magnetic boots that Robin can use to scale metallic walls will remind players of Link's similar accessory.
Players are atracted to Lego Batman for the combination of these two already strong brands. The simple joy of watching a liviing breathing Lego Batman and Robin running around a Lego world is something to behold. Put this on a handheld machine and add the ability to build a variety of Lego constructions is then the icing on the cake.
The game goes on to provide both set piece and incidental experiences that prove both its depth and attention to detail. From the comic story boarded narrative to the familiarity of each and every Lego piece encountered, there is plenty to get the gaming juices goign.
As the player progresses, they can unlock different playable characters and Lego style add-ons. This, along with the hunt to collect every last brick, adds to the games longevity. To get through the main game will take most people a good fifteen hours. Players short on time may find the lack of mid-level save points a little frustrating, although the DS's sleep function alleviates this somewhat.
Very young gamers will be attracted to the brands invovled, which regardless of their age will have worked their way into their psyche. However, the nature of the subject matter means that a certain amount of hitting, kicking and bat-a-ranging is inevitable. This is never gratuitous - particularly as the Lego characters don't bleed (or even die) but simply fall apart. Some of the bad guys are at times a little spooky - in particular the forced grin of Joker's goons - and may effect more sensitive younger players.
Intermediate and older players should get on well with Lego Batman and are well served via the simple D-Pad and touch screen controls. Those that already enjoy the Batman comics and Lego are the ideal market for the game, although this is not a prerequisite.
Experts are most likely to take up the challenge of collecting every Lego brick in the game and unlocking all manner of character combinations.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: