Last fall, DC Comics completely rebooted its universe. In doing so, the company brought several Vertigo characters (from DC's line of mature books) into the main world. Shade the Changing Man and Hellblazer's John Constantine are now fully integrated in the mythos and are members of Justice League Dark. OK, Shade isn't anymore, but he was!
Now, that's fine for comic books, but this is a video game website. Most people have no idea who Shade is or why Constantine matters after that terrible movie staring Keanu Reeves. Well, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes finally incorporates more characters in the DC Universe than just Batman's direct pantheon. Trouble is, a lot of interesting people didn't make the cut.
Lego Batman was a fantastic game, but DC has so many characters that it's a shame to just focus on him and the main members of the Justice League. Lego Batman 2 introduces Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, and Superman as playable characters. If you're going to add heroes not strictly pertaining to Batman comics, why not go all out? That's right, go ahead and make Lego DC Universe — I'm sure it will sell better than DC Universe Online.
A proper DC Universe game would allow Traveler's Tales (the developer behind the Lego game franchise) to play further havoc with once-mature characters, santizing them enough for a game targeted at children. The iconic Hawaiian shirt-wearing Joker from The Killing Joke is in the first Lego Batman and the developer isn't really fooling anyone with the reference. Kids won't know the difference between regular-old Joker and the one that shot Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) in the spine, but their parents probably do.
Little nods to iconic moments in comics definitely enhanced Lego Batman for me, especially an achievement that required you to play as Bane and then break Batman's back. Of course they're adorable Lego characters so no one is really getting hurt, but anyone familiar with the story where Bane does that exact thing will smirk a little.
I suppose what I really want is a gruff and grumbly Lego version of John Constantine haphazardly casting spells as he runs around with super heroes. Lego Batman 2 already features one member of Justice League Dark (Zatanna) and other, creepier character choices like Bizarro and Black Adam.
If Traveler's Tales had just dropped Batman from the game's title, imagine how many crazy DC characters might have shown up. Perhaps if this foray into a broader DC-oriented Lego title does well it will encourage more universal projects in the future. I'd like to see the company's entire roster (or notable roster at least) featured in a game where you can actually control them, rather than perform unending fetch quests that simply relate to them.
And, if a full Lego DC Universe happens, what would stop a Marvel Universe project? I'd be fine with just a Lego Avengers game as long as I ended up with virtual minifig versions of Iron Man and Captain America. I know the toys already exist — just put them in a video game!
Lego Batman 2 feels like a Justice League game and it's unfortunate that Traveler's Tales didn't take that idea further. I want to see more winks to comic history in the characters included in this series, and see the current New 52 version of the DC Universe reflected in a game.
Regardless of this, Lego Batman 2 looks phenomenal, and I will likely play it to 100 percent completion, even without John Constantine.