LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

legoharrypotter
What we liked:
+ Tons to see and do
+ Faithful to the franchise
+ New spell system
What we didn't like:
- No online co-op
- Cannot share level creations
Great
DEVELOPER: TT Games   |   PUBLISHER: Warner Bros. Interactive   |   RELEASE: 06/29/2010

Expellum Tedium, or something to that effect.

It is no secret that the LEGO games have become somewhat run into the ground. OK let’s be honest here, we can all hear the collective groan when they announce yet another franchise is receiving the LEGO treatment. Thankfully while the hardcore audience may be sick of them, there is still a huge market, and not to mention the games are always solid. This brings us to the latest franchise to get the LEGO makeover: Harry Potter. The blocky version of Hogwarts finest continues the trend of stud collection and silent humor the series is known for, but does divorce the online co-op in favor of the split-screen found in the previous LEGO Indiana Jones.

Now if you have played a previous LEGO game, and let’s be honest who hasn’t, the formula should be ingrained into your memory by now. Potter takes place through the first four books/movies, and you will be playing out the key moments accompanied by silent cut scenes that focus on making light of the scenarios. This has always been the charm of the LEGO presentation and it remains intact again. One of the first things you will notice with Potter though is that the visuals have finally received a much needed polish making everything glossier and easier on the eyes.

As you can imagine the formula for the game has not changed. You are still tasked with collecting countless studs, golden bricks and a plethora of other items. Seriously if you intend to get 100% in a LEGO game, you better have some serious patience and dedication. What has been added to the mix to fit the source material are spells. Each character has specific spells that help out through the environments in an effort to, you guessed it, collect studs. I am not going to pretend that I know the names of the spells that the kids belt out, but all of the familiar ones are present and fans of the series will be delighted to toy around with their effects.

One of the biggest things that I have come to loathe about the LEGO games is their lack of direction. Each entry in the series thrusts you into a massive amount of levels, and at times it becomes overwhelming with almost too much to do. LEGO Harry Potter brings back the hub world, but it also clearly defines each episode and makes things much easier to navigate. For as much as there is to do in the game, this is a big plus. Everything is right at your fingertips and getting into missions or just heading off to spend your studs is never a tedious task. This is one area that the game really excels at that previous incarnations have failed.

For fans of the series LEGO Harry Potter will definitely be a treat. Hogwarts is modeled beautifully, and all your favorite characters are either playable, unlockable or at least within the game. As with any LEGO game there is so much content here that justifying the purchase simply boils down to your preference for the genre and of course how much you like Harry Potter.

Of course not all of this comes without a cost and LEGO Harry Potter still retains some of the quirks of past LEGO titles. For starters when playing co-op the camera will switch to split-screen when you get too far away from your partner. This works out better than having to share a screen, but it also brings to the surface the severe camera issues. More often than not the view of the game would not be ideal when trying to play with another player. There is also plenty of tedium for those wanting to find and collect everything in the game. Having to replay levels that you might not particularly care for just to collect one brick can lead to frustration.

There are also a host of glitches and bugs you will run into, much like any other LEGO game. The combative AI makes a return, but for the most part they play their part like they are supposed to. I still wish the game offered online co-op of some sort so I didn’t have to play with these mindless drones whenever I wanted to enjoy the game when no one was home.

In addition to all the collect-a-thon content, the level editor also makes a return. I love these features in games, but when you have no option to share your content outside of locally, it kind of defeats the purpose. In this day and age where sharing levels can become a staple of a game, it is sad to see the LEGO titles lagging behind. Why put such a creative feature in the game when you don’t give users the tools to share them outside of the living room. I understand that the LEGO games are predominantly built for family experiences, but why put in the feature when that audience is likely never to use it.

LEGO Harry Potter is a solid entry into a fairly overdone franchise. Anyone who has lost interest in the games will not find a lot to pull them back in, unless you just simply love Harry Potter. You can’t really fault a game for sticking to what makes it such a huge success, although it is disappointing to see it take steps backwards in areas like online play. Still if you love collecting studs and have yet to grow tired of spending hours trying to get 100% in the LEGO universe Harry Potter is by far the best entry in the series to date.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Ken McKown

Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.