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The Danish LEGO factory spits out 1.7 million bricks every hour. It's an impressive feat almost matched by the frequency of Traveller's Tales' tie-in games. Not counting the Rock Band variant, we're now approaching the eleventh licensed LEGO game in seven years, and there's little wonder why the British studio is so prolific: even though the games have been universally great, they're mostly new skins painted onto pieces popped from the moulds constructed back in2005 for the first LEGO Star Wars.
It's taken a long time, but the relentless production line officially grinds to a halt right about... now. Diving into LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes reminds us of the days when we'd tear into a new LEGO box set and discover pieces we'd never played with before. It's like finding the glow-in-the-dark ghost from the classic Castle range, or the pirates who had 'wooden' pegs and hooks in place of the standard minifig legs and arms.
And just what is this new piece of the plastic pie that changes everything we've come to take for granted in the LEGO games? It's Gotham City: one giant, sprawling, open world you're free to explore as you like.
Months before we get a chance to swing and glide around Hugo Strange's metropolitan prison in Wii U's Batman: Arkham City, we'll be driving around a LEGO Gotham City in a miniature Batmobile. We'll also be flying high above the streets in the Batwing, steering through the bay's choppy waters in the Batboat, and tip-toeing through the city as the Joker in Freeplay mode yelling "WHY SO SERIOUS?" at the top of our lungs every time we pass someone by.
That's not even the half of it. The DC Super Heroes bit of the title means Batman is joined by a host of other comic book characters, each bringing their own special bag of tricks along for the play session. Smugsponge Superman, for instance, is able to fly to wherever he wants, whenever he wants, and can nip to the top of Wayne Tower in seconds. Flash is more grounded than Clark Kent, but does have the unique ability to run as fast as Gotham City's fastest car for speedy cross-town sprints. Can someone give us an "Ahh ahh"?
With this in mind, Traveller's Tales have filled Gotham City with hours of things to make and do. First up are the major DC villains, who won't stop terrorising the citizens until they take a few batarangs to their plastic faces. Winning a war of the fists will then unlock the bested baddie for purchase, provided you've the studs in your pocket to make the trade. (A new combo system makes it easier to hit those totals if you've been practising your combat moves: ten- times stud multipliers go to the Batmen and Supermen capable of striking without reply.)