If you've ever played a LEGO video game before, you pretty much know what you'll be getting yourself into with Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the third installment in the series of LEGO Batman games. You play as miniature Legoized (I know that's not a word and I don't care) versions of characters from a particular franchise. As them, you break everything breakable in sight for those precious studs (basically coins) to unlock more characters to play as. While that's going on, you're also assembling Lego bricks to create objects in order to solve various puzzles. LEGO's formula for video games hasn't changed much at all over the years, so you'll either sigh at Beyond Gotham for being too familiar or you'll grin in delight as you fall again for the charm of LEGO.

In LEGO Batman 3, villainous Brainiac wants to destroy Earth via the Lantern Rings he has gotten access to. To stop him, Batman joins forces with various superheroes from the DC Comics Universe including members from the Justice League, as well as Joker and Lex Luthor - who aren't the "superhero" type so much. It's a pretty generic story with little to no surprises, and if I'm being honest, the plot here is pretty boring. Considering this is the third game in the series, I was disappointed that the plot went the "bad guy wants to destroy the world" direction we've seen infinite times before. I was hoping for something a little more inspired this go-around. After all this is LEGO; a brand which encourages creativity!

Plot gripes aside, the gameplay is fun. There's over 150 different characters to unlock, and that's not even counting the various suits a few different characters can change into that grant them unique abilities. These different suits can destroy certain obstacles that that character can't otherwise destroy, or access an area that that character can't otherwise access. For instance, Batman has an Electricity Suit that can charge electric currents, or Cyborg has a Super Suit that essentially gives him the size and strength of The Hulk. Things like these special suits give these LEGO games personality. Are all these suits from the comics? Nope, but I'd be lying if I told you they aren't found to play around with anyway.

With the expansive character roster (something I have to commend these LEGO games for - they're never short of stuff to unlock), there's plenty of replay value here. Unlockable characters include Aquaman, Firestorm, and Plastic Man, and even more obscure characters like Ambush Bug and Condiment King! Even celebrities like Kevin Smith are playable characters. Characters aren't the only things available to collect, however. Good 'ole Adam West is hidden in all of the game's 15 levels, there's red bricks that can permanently act as stud multipliers once found, and vehicles like the Batwing can be purchased via collecting vehicle tokens in Free Mode (where you can go back to levels you completed and not have the character restrictions). There's really hours upon hours of gameplay to be had if you're a completionist.

I did have a couple of technical issues playing on my PS4. One time at the very end of level 14, the game crashed on me. I was able to restart at a checkpoint a ways back, but I still had to redo most of the level, which was very frustrating. A more recurring frustration is that your AI allies will frequently get in the way of either a room you're trying to enter, or an enemy you're trying to fight. Also, I had to restart level 9 because Martian Manhunter, who the AI was in charge of at the time, got stuck behind an immovable object and I literally could not get him unstuck. Of course, I had to switch to him in order to complete a puzzle in this section, so hello "Restart" button. And lastly, I found The Flash too fast here. He never walks, all he does is zip around. Sound fun? Not when he's falling off cliffs on a regular basis. I suppose that could be looked at as amusing, but he's not exactly a convenience.

While Beyond Gotham may not be the definitive LEGO game to play, it was still a charming experience for me. The inherent silliness found in LEGO games is ever present here (Wonder Woman literally rides a bull at one point) and the diverse variety of characters can lead to some creative team-ups in Free Mode. Though the plot's a letdown and technical issues are present, this is still a recommendable game for those that have been waiting for the the chance to play as Bat-Cow in a video game.

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