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Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Trailer And Interview

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Trailer And Interview

If we were to rank all Lego games, it would go something like this: Lego Pirates, Lego Indy, Lego Indy 2, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Lego Batman, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, Lego Harry Potters Year 1-3 and finally Lego Harry Potter The Other Years Whatever And Whatever.

The problem Lego Batman had is that it wasn’t particularly inspiring, being based on a odd pick ‘n mix of Batman moments and characters rather than being anchored around something concrete to parody (as Pirates and Indy did so well using the movies as its material).

Now Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes has been announced, bringing the wider DC universe into the sequel rather than just focusing on Batman, and we’re the first to bring you the trailer…

Phillip Ring, producer at developers Traveller’s Tales Games, is here to tell us more:

Considering you know have a huge roster of DC characters, why keep the focus solely on Batman, at least in terms of the name? Isn’t there a chance people may not be aware of the changes you’ve made?

It was something we looked at and when we first sat down with it, it was something we wanted to get right and delivered on what people were expecting. Because it takes place in Gotham City it just felt right to keep the focus on Batman because he is the main key point of the story so you have Batman and Robin, then Superman kind of joins in with some other characters but it really is more of a Batman story that follows through. From a story perspective, it made sense and it is a sequel. There’s a real drive as to what is happening in Gotham.

When did you make the decision to draft in everyone else, especially when you consider Lego Batman was a success on its own?

It was always something we had in mind and we thought we’d done Lego Batman and spent an age making it great, making the characters work in that universe so then it was like well, what do we do next and adding in the other characters and the Justice League felt right. That’s what happens in these comics and this environment so that’s what we wanted to do. It not only allows us to revisit the Batman world but give it a new flavour. And, obviously, we’ve got the villains that go with them too.

Considering we have a new Superman film next year, was there ever a discussion internally or with Warner when you thought about holding off and just releasing Lego Superman in 2013?

For us we wanted to include him simply because it felt like the right time to do so. He’s a really key figure in the story so it was a case of adding him and then when we had the first prototype of how he felt we knew it was brilliant and had to go in. It’s about doing that and doing what people want. We’re so focused on Lego Batman 2 given the size and scope of it that we always take things one game at a time so let’s do everything we possibly can to make this one feel as cool as possible.

Superman has had a poor run when it comes to games due to many developer’s not quite understanding how to make him work around the structure of a videogame. Is that a hurdle you struggled to get over too, or does the tongue-in-cheek nature of Lego mean you can almost ignore those issues?

Yeah, definitely. With all Lego games it’s about ‘how do we make it fun’ rather than focusing on making them the hardest experience possible so that’s been core for us. I mean, even when someone dies that’s not a penalty – you just lose some studs but you can pick them up and be thrown straight back in. So when it’s time to include Superman, it’s a case of that he has to feel cool, he has to feel awesome. While we’re doing that, though, we have to make sure we don’t make the other characters any less important so they all have their own unique skills throughout the levels. Superman just kind of adds to that as well.

Quick aside, then… does Superman have a life bar?!

[Laughs] It’s there at the moment but he doesn’t seem to be taking a lot of damage. We’re trying to figure out the best thing is at the moment because, yeah, he is the man of steel and he can only take punishment under certain conditions. We’re toying with some different ideas at the moment.

We think it’s fair to say there’s a very obvious thread running through the Lego games and although there’s certainly things you’ve done to keep them interesting, many players know what they’re going to get. Is the open world you’ve added your way of trying to dispel those kind of assumptions?

With our games we’re all trying to push it forward and what we’ve actually found is that when we are trying to do new gameplay features, some of them work really well but they kind of get – not ignored – but they don’t get seen as being as important as they are. So people come back to our games and they have a good experience of it but they may not necessarily see the differences as things have evolved. If people one of our recent games and then go back to an earlier one, all of sudden they can see everything that’s different. As we’ve been evolving maybe it hasn’t been as clear but people have still come out and said they’ve really enjoyed it. This is our way of saying that we’re really pushing things forward and taking it as far as we can go from a tech side and give people a much bigger and different experience. It’s still a Lego game so if you’re a fan you’re still going to love this but people who don’t want to try something a bit different it’s here in this big open world.

How has it been in trying to build an entire Gotham City considering it’s not really something you as a studio have attempted before?

It’s always been a challenge from a tech perspective, as the nature of these things are. What was great for us, though, is we worked so closely with DC and they’ve been a massive help for us when it comes to things like the layout of Gotham and the way it feels and the way it looks. We’re not just making a city and where is this city located – it’s Gotham City! Let’s make it look and feel like Gotham City with all the Lego, what you can destroy and what you can interact with and also just the feel of it. It is Lego Gotham City. DC have been great with that and they’ve just given us some great guidance.

Do you think this puts you in direct competition with the Rocksteady guys now?

Not at all [laughs]. I love Arkham City – it’s a great game – but we’re just making a different take on the Lego world and with Batman and DC there is that beauty of it that people can do different stories and different locations and have their own feel for Batman and these characters and we’re doing that. We want to make our version of the Lego Batman world with these DC superheroes so there’s no competition. They’re two entirely different titles.

Is the open world what you’re really hoping people will catch on to, then?

Two things: this massive open world and characters that now talk. There the two key things we really want to get out there to people.

On that, there’s an expectation on what people expect superheroes to sound like. Again, though, as you’re knee-deep in Lego, have you been able to toy around with this anticipation?

It’s really about what we can do with the characters and the voice acting we’ve got. So if we take like Superman, for example, people have a good idea of what they expect from him as a character. But the Lego version of Superman almost comes across as a little bit arrogant and that’s reflected in the way he speaks and the way he delivers his lines but also in the way his animations are portrayed – slicking his hair back and things like that. It’s not like a dig at him – in our version he’s just not aware of the things he’s doing. It’s something we’ve managed to do with characters in the past, like Qui-Gon, so we spoof his personality but it still is very much Superman. It’s just a bit different to what you would expect.

Is there a worry your end that as Superman is in the game, the open world will lose a bit of its magic as he can just fly everywhere and see everything almost instantly?

[There’s measures we’ve taken to ensure you have to use all the key characters] as when you’re playing through the story we’re introducing them and these new abilities and we’re doing that right up until the end. We do have some characters that are effectively fun variations so although they may not turn up directly in the story, we know there’s fans of these characters out there and they’ll want to play as them. So they don’t have direct specific abilities to access certain areas but there’s still things that make them unique. We’re making sure if you’re a fan of a character that isn’t directly in the story, there’s still a reason to try them out and see these new things.

A big problem with the original Lego Batman came in the fact it wasn’t based on any well-known film or comic so the cutscenes weren’t as iconic as they were with Star Wars or Harry Potter. Are you worried this may be a struggle again?

There are definitely nods that people who are big Batman and DC fans will get. I mean, we’ve got those fans in the office! We’ve always got people who make sure we include plenty of nods to the people who are going to get it and fans of the fiction.

You’ve returned to the Danny Elfman Batman theme again which remains incredibly iconic to the license. Was that your thinking about re-using it, especially as you explore Gotham?

Yeah, it really is. It’s always been something we’re really away of. There’s just certain pieces of music that instantly instill you with a certain feeling. When we did Star Wars, we had to have that theme, same with Pirates and Harry Potter. With Batman, when you hear that music you instantly know where you are and you can listen to it without actually seeing anything and you instantly know it’s Batman and that’s the image it conjures up. We needed to have that not only for Batman, but for Superman as well so you know what to expect.

Are there any characters you weren’t able to include, or any internal arguments about who should be in the game?

It’s quite a big roster of characters we’ve got and the good things I because of the characters we have they all have a purpose and they’re all there for a reason. In some of our titles we’ve included everyone so you’d have the third person on the left who was on-camera in a shot so it was a bit of an odd one. We’ve got such a rich cast of characters here though we decided to pick the best of all the superheroes and supervillians.