Getting My Batarang On With LEGO Batman: The VideogameS

Not only do you get to use a bat symbol to target bad guys and items anywhere on the screen for your batarang, but when you get to play as the Joker, that's right, play as the Joker, you can use a handbuzzer on enemies that delivers so much juice it shakes the mini-figs to pieces.

I shouldn't have to go on from there, but I will.

LEGO Batman: The Videogame looks like it will be delivering the sort of over-the-top addictive LEGO fun of both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, but with even more memorable and equipment-laden playable characters than both games combined.

"Over the decades there have been lots of stories about Batman, this is a distillation," said Traveller's Tale's Jonathan Smith. "It is our original telling of Gotham City in chaos."

While the game will have you playing as a "stern Batman" and "try too hard Boy Wonder", Smith said you will also be able to play as a number of villains including the Joker and the Penguin. The game will include a 15 level campaign divided between the heroes and villains.

The game's central hub will be the the Batcave and yes, Alfred will be an unlockable playable minifig.

Sitting down with the game, I found it fairly easy to drop into. The main difference between LEGO Batman: The Videogame and past LEGO games is the batarang mechanic. To use Batman's nifty weapon you tap the X button and then move a bat symbol around the screen to target things, multiple things if you want. It may sound a bit clunky, but it works really well and the added step of targeting prevents you from overusing the batarang.

I played through quite a hefty chunk of a level with Batman and Robin, battling across some of Gotham's rooftops with the dynamic duo felt very familiar, but in a good way. The batarang was most useful when targeting items or distant foes. Which is probably for the best. The few puzzles I ran into were about as challenging as those found in the Star Wars and Indiie games, so not very.

To get Batman or Robin to change outfits you have to find a suit swapper, something typically that has to be built with loose LEGO pieces. Once you step on it you switch to a predetermined suit. I got a chance to check out a mag suit which allowed Robin to slowly walk his way up metal walls and such. Batman's glide suit was way cooler, letting him float gently across the sky. While I didn't get to test drive them, I'm told that there will be a number of vehicles in the game as well including the Batmobile, Batboat and Batwing.

After playing around with the Batman and Robin level for a bit I jumped into a level that had me playing as The Joker and disturbingly sexy minifig Harley Quinn.

In these levels I had a lot more puzzles to deal with while taking on a seemingly endless stream of Gotham cops. While The Joker can take people down with old school punching, he can also give them a hearty buzzer handshake. Grabbing onto an enemy with The Joker makes the little minifig light up, briefly showing a faded minifig skeleton as the character vibrates until it falls apart. That minifig dismemberment is right up there with Chewbacca's arm-ripping attack.

While I didn't have time to play as the Penguin, I was told his attack involved exploding penguins.

I suspect that LEGO Batman The Videogame is going to resonate with gamers as much as LEGO Star Wars did, both because of the excellent design and the abundance of memorable characters.