Lego Batman: The Videogame
Xbox 360 – 2008
One of TT Games earliest releases in the Lego series sees you take control of the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder as you smash your way through Gotham’s villains. The game is split into two parts, the Hero side where you’ll control Batman and Robin, and the Villain side where you’ll play as the likes of the Riddler, the Penguin and the Joker. Each side has three chapters with five missions in each chapter. The game isn’t long, with 100% competition easy enough to achieve. The game does feature collectibles in the form of Mini-kits, coins and hostages to rescue. Most of the game is played on foot but there are some levels where you’ll fly a plane, drive a car or control a boat. The game features a decent list of characters to unlock but nothing on the scale of the later Lego games. As it’s an early entry, there is no voice acting. Instead, the plot (if you can call it that) is told through the characters’ expressions and set pieces. The game can be played alone or with a friend but most of the achievements are only unlocked for the main player. The game does have some annoying faults. In two-player, there’s no split screen. This often means that the computer will drop a player out if another goes too far ahead. It appears to decide which player to drop randomly as there were times that I was the second player who didn’t progress quick enough but player-one was dropped out instead. In other cases where it doesn’t drop the player out, it drags them across the screen, sometimes into danger. The game does sometimes freeze (during our playthrough it crashed three times) and achievements can be glitchy. One achievement forced us to start a new game to unlock. It also has one of the worst bonus levels in the series to date – Wayne Mansion. It requires you to get 1,000,000 studs but there’s only that exact number in the level and if you miss one, you’ll spend some time trying to find it. It’s a decent entry in the Lego series but feels incredibly dated as a result of how much the series has progressed. It’s fun to play with a friend but you’re probably better off sticking with the newer entries.
PlayStation 3 – 2014
Formula One saw some major changes t the sport in 2014. Turbo-hybrid cars were introduced, gear ratio could no longer be changed from race to race and the final race of the season awarded double points (a ludicrous idea that was rightly dumped after 2014). Some of these changes do have an impact on the game. A combination of the EGO Engine 3.0 and the turbo-hybrid cars has the game sounding fantastic. It also looks great too. Being unable to change gear ratio won’t really impact casual fans of the series but those who like to play on the hardest difficulty may feel it. KERS is no longer controlled by the player but DRS is still in your hands. The double points can make the final race in Career Mode exciting or annoying, depending on how it affects you. As I’ve skipped over F1 2013 (I don’t own it), I can only really compare the game to the previous three I’ve played. I am aware that F1 2013 did have classic cars but none are present in F1 2014. In terms of control, it feels like an improvement on F1 2012 but I still prefer F1 2011’s cornering and acceleration. The game sees the return of several assists to help out but now they have different degrees of impact rather than just being on or off. You can also set parc fermé rules to on or off and have unlimited flashbacks. The AI are improved over F1 2012, making car setup and race craft important even on lower levels. The game no longer has a young driver test. Instead, there’s an evaluation test that is designed to help you pick your difficulty level. Scenario Mode is a tweaking of Champions Mode, where you’ll undertake challenges of varying difficulty. Season Challenge also returns. Career Mode is probably the part I found most disappointing. You can now select a short (7 races), medium (12 races) or full calendar at the start. The menu layout is nearly identical to F1 2012 but you no longer receive a tour of the track if you select it. There are no press interviews, podium celebrations or TV style presentation. These were all absent in F1 2012 also. At the start of your Career Mode you can choose any team. While it may be great for me having played several other beforehand, some of the joy in Career Mode was working your way up from the backmarkers to become the champion rather than diving into a Mercedes or Ferrari. Overall, it’s a strong F1 game from Codemasters but the lack of innovation, especially in Career Mode is a little bit of a let down.
PlayStation 3 – 2012
F1 2012 is the fourth game in Codemasters’ annual F1 series. Similar to its predecessors, it uses the EGO engine. As a result, it looks and sounds very similar to the previous HD entries, with damage and tyre wear graphics and physics being identical to F1 2011. There are some changes, though. The game introduces Young Driver Test, Season Challenge and Champions Mode. Young Driver Test is an introduction to the game, teaching you the ins and outs of acceleration, DRS, KERS and the racing line. The better you perform here, the more teams you can unlock to start your Career with. Season Challenge sees you attempt to win the Driver’s Championship within ten races. Depending on what difficulty you select, you can pick from a range of teams to play as and switch teams during the season. Champions Mode has you take on challenges to beat each of the six Driver’s Champions in the game before racing them all in Austin. These challenges include staying out in the wet with dry tyres while Hamilton hunts you down, catching Schumacher after being forced to pit and catch Vettel while setting the fastest lap. The menus have also seen an overhaul. Gone is the paddock setting from the previous two games. Its replaced with a sliding menu. With the paddock removed, the interviews are absent too. These could be repetitive in previous games but they did add a bit to the Career Mode and would have been great to expand upon. Emails are the main source of communication in Career Mode, where you’ll get track info, team-mate challenge stats and tyre wear info. You’ll also have to select a rival towards the end of the season and beating them again nets you their seat. The biggest let down for me from this over F1 2011 is the car handling. While F1 2011’s felt smooth and exhilarating, F1 2012 feels floaty. The car is easier to spin (not as easy as F1 2010) and when it does happen you simply have to hope you don’t hit a barrier. It’s hard to describe it without experiencing it for yourself. Overall, a great entry in the series but with little graphical upgrades, a lack of interactions in Career Mode and inferior car controls (to me anyway) means its marginally behind its predecessor.
Xbox 360 – 2011
Similar to their previous entry, F1 2011 was released well into the 2011 season. As a result, car and drivers’ performances are similar to their real life counterparts, i.e. HRT will often be glued to the back of the grid while Red Bull Racing will be competing for podium places. The game features the same teams from the 2010 game with the driver line-up receiving a shake-up to reflect the start of the 2011 season. Most of the tracks return but Sakhir and Hockenheim have been replaced by the Nurburgring and New Delhi, with the latter being a new track altogether in Formula One. The Game Modes from F1 2010 return, with Career being the main attraction. Here, you’ll race through five season to become the World Champion. Most options and assists are the same but you can now set the racing line to dynamic, which will help you pick up the course layout quickly. The menus are slightly different. They’re still set in the paddock but they’re a bit more streamlined. In Career Mode, you’ll choose from one of the lower performing teams and have to make your way up the ranks. The game introduces an email system and news headlines. Emails will outline your race objectives, track conditions (including weather) and any contract offers you receive. Once again contract offers are linked to your reputation, which will grow through your race results. Career Mode again features a season objective but will have objectives for each race and these will change depending on how well you perform. TV presentation is similar to F1 2010 but there are cutscenes after Qualifying and the Race, although they’re not podium scenes. Interviews are back but take place in the paddock. Again, you’ll have to pick a rival and beating them will net you an offer from their team. Graphically, the tracks look similar to its predecessor but the cars look better. You’ll also notice marbles on your tyres if you drive on the dirty side of the track, which is a nice little feature. You can bring up a small menu that will tell you when your scheduled pit-stop is and what position you’ll rejoin the race in. The big difference is the driving. The car glides around the track and it feels like you have more control over it. Braking is much more forgiving this time around but you can miss the odd braking point or lock your wheels. The cars are also less likely to spin, especially going over the curbs. In F1 2010, it was very easy to spin out. You can still spin out in 2011, such as driving off the racing line or hitting another car, but it feels more manageable. DRS and KERS have also been introduced. While not as important on the lower difficulty settings, it’s important to get to grips with these on higher settings in order to improve your lap times. Overall, while many of the features are similar to F1 2010, the racing feels better, and that’s where it really counts.