Originally published on GameInformer.com July 19, 2012, at 2:00 AM.
Selected for Game Informer Newsletter, 7/26/12.
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Update 6/4/18: Select screenshots from this pictorial appear at bottom.
I acquired Max Payne 3 and LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes about the same time because they both appeal to my sense of childhood wonder and unmitigated bloodlust, or because the two games had a similar release window. In any event, they are so similar that a smashup phlog was a natural, or at least inevitable given how lazy and ambivalent I've become.
The title screens/main menus suggest how much these games have in common. Note that both take place at night, or one at least in a darkened apartment suggestive of nighttime binge drinking/chain smoking. Both are fighting the good fight, one against bad guys, one against his inner demons. And both wear masks in public to conceal their true identities, even if one is literal and the other metaphorical. This phlog is gonna write itself! (They can do that, right?)
Both games begin with their protagonists engaged in some social drinking, even if their friends are Lex Luthor and Jimmy Beam, respectively. Did I say social? I meant sociopathic. And instead of friends, I meant frenemies (yes, Bruce and Max both use that term, liberally, to describe their poor choices in companions, at least when sloppy drunk, anyway; "I love you guys! Frenemies forever!!").
Making enemies is something that comes easy for crime fighters with more than enough emotional baggage to fill a streamer trunk. Indeed, motivated by the murder of loved ones, both decide to give the (under)world a royal wedgie in their own inimitable ways. And the underworld is not gonna take that sitting down! Even if it could, which it can't, because it has a wedgie.
Despite anti-social tendencies, Bruce and Max attract attention and, in particular, partners. Robin the Boy Wonder is a young, enthusiastic sidekick who idolizes Superman, to Batman's chagrin. Raul Passos, more precisely, is a drinking partner. But when the chips are down, Max knows he can count on Raul -- to crap out. I never said he was a good partner.
Indeed, Raul seems to leave Max in the lurch at the most inopportune times, a fairweather friend caught in hurricane season. Robin, for his part, will often quite literally fall to pieces when overwhelmed by foes. But I guess the lesson for Max and Bruce is that beggars can't be choosers. Ironically, one gets the feeling that Raul and Robin need Max and Bruce more than vice versa.
Both Max and Batman have impressive arsenals at their disposal. Max's suit allows him to intimidate enemies with his suave demeanor, while his special shoes ensure his bloody tracks will mislead confused pursuers. But his ace in the hole is bullet time, which he uses to slow opponents like a grownup variation of Red Light Green Light. Thank goodness goons are his willing playmates.
Batman is not without his own tools, apparently including a tool belt for constructing stairs on the fly. If this Dark Knight gig doesn't work out, he can always fall back on carpentry.
Bruce also uses a grappling hook for those hard to reach areas. Good thing Legoland is built for platforming, with copious places for Batman to hang his hood.
Max's outfits are usually worse for ware after his tussles with gangland stooges; too bad he doesn't have Bruce's fancy suit signal for wardrobe changes on the fly. Nevermind that each outfit has its own advantages.
The Bat's X-ray suit enables him to see through objects, though his use of that feature is not always Emily Post. Max, on the other hand, is limited to his beer goggles ...
Max's combat repertoire mostly involves his Red Light Green Light time slowy thing, which also manages to slow his victims' bloody demise in all their crimson fountain gory, er, glory. Ironic that someone with such a proclivity for destructive behavior would have such an enabler in his arsenal.
Batman might pick up and scold his foes, though in the end he can be just as ruthless. When he pummels enemies into a shocking shower of LEGO blocks and bouncing hearts you almost want to avert your eyes. If not for the fact that he has to collect their remains, you probably would. That's right, Bruce hoards pieces of his victims, especially their hearts! Yuck.
That's not to say that Max isn't also the manifestation of Death on Earth. He likewise leaves a bloody trail wherever he goes. In fact, you get the feeling that these two would really enjoy each other's company and regale one another with hilarious tales of wanton merrymaking.
Both are disturbingly oblivious to the carnage they create, so having friends alert them to the fact is a blessing, provided of course that they are interested in hearing it, which they aren't.
Being crime fighting sleuths, Bruce and Max are also adept at uncovering clues and objects otherwise hidden from sight. Collectibles abound in their respective cities and finding them is part of the fun, in case destroying large swaths of their worlds wasn't enough entertainment.
Max is pretty good on his feet, but you get the feeling he's more at home horizontal. His lunging Bullet Time attack is like an elegant swan dive if said swan was packing heat and had an angry streak a mile wide. Thankfully, even if he ends up on his back, no one else is left standing either.
Not to be outdone, the Boy Wonder also can go horizontal at times, thanks to his nifty magnetic boots and Gotham City plumbing that better resembles Blue Man Group piping rejects. Robin also gets a rockin' hampster ball to roll around in and operate pesky wheel based mechanisms. Max, eat your heart out! (If Batman doesn't do it first.)
Batman and Robin also get to travel in some sweet rides, from ice cream carts (so cool) to the Batwing and Robin's helicopter. Whether getting from Point A to Point B or instigating an on-rails shooting segment, they serve a purpose and give the Dynamic Duo kicks.
Max also gets to ride in helicopters, but both he and Bruce likewise have to deal with the downside of such travel. Namely, their enemies demonstrate a penchant for things that go Boom! and aren't above resorting to the noobtube for some delicious payback.
If our friends are a reflection of who we are, then Max and Bruce are shady characters indeed. Though their relationships are likely a worse reflection on their associates than on themselves.
The worlds that Max and Bruce inhabit are well-realized and provide great fodder for their crime fighting exploits. The two iconic characters in some ways are two sides of the same soiled coin and provide colorful gaming anecdotes in their respective titles. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall should they ever cross paths, though it's doubtful one would live to tell about it.
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