If you’re one of those Harry Potter fans who were looking forward to saving the world from Lord Voldemort, but were petrified by the quality of the recent Harry Potter videogames, then fear no more. The Lego world of Harry Potter is here to rescue you. Harry Potter is back in Hogwarts for his fifth year to kick off proceedings, and you get to experience the whole adventure from there on till the very end, Lego style.
The game is quick to teach it’s mechanics at the playground, with Harry and Dudley working their way out. Heading from there, you’ll just be busy collecting studs and golden bricks, solving puzzles to procure the ingredients for your latest potion, fighting Dementors, and duelling it out with the many dark forces of ‘you know who’.
You play as Harry for the most part, and are almost never alone in gameplay, with Ron, Hermione or one of the many Potter friends helping you out. You can actively switch between the sidekick characters during gameplay. Each character has his/her own special set of features, and you’ll need to use every one of them to get yourself out of trouble or to solve the most intriguing puzzles. For example, you’ll need to use Harry’s invisibility cloak to salvage yourself in some places, whereas you’ll need to unleash Crookshanks, Hermione’s pet kitty, to dig through the ground to help solve some of the puzzles. Also notable is that the Weasleys have exclusive access to Weasley boxes throughout the game world; if any other character tries to access these magic rewards, they gets punched in the face, or something on those lines.
There is no levelling system as such, however, as you progress through the game, you’ll learn new spells after completing challenges. Once you’ve learnt a new spell, the environment which you were in just five minutes ago seems drastically different, and all of a sudden, you’re able to play for a whole lot of new unlockables in that area. So playing through the same environment never gets old as you’d be learning new spells every now and then until Harry’s action wheel fills up. You can switch between the various spells either by scrolling through them using L2 and R2 or by accessing the action wheel by pressing and holding the triangle button. You’ll need to use specific spells to access specific parts of an environment. The spells come into their own during duels, which are simple and easy enough, but delightfully fun.
The gameplay is addictive and rewarding, just like you’d expect from a Lego game. The game world involves the corridors and grand halls at Hogwarts, the surrounding grounds and woods, and pretty much every significant place where the plot progresses as per the movies and books. All of these environments are very charmingly recreated, with a wonderful little Lego touch. Couple that with brilliant lighting, and you get a consistent, jaw-dropping visual treat that’ll have you drooling all over the screen. The only blot on the whole experience is the occasionally stiff camera angle. There are times when you’ll feel restricted as the camera angles deny you a proper visual on what you’re supposed to do.
The game delivers well with its audio package as well. The background score is from the movies and the ambient sounds are cute and funny. The Lego physics do very well to hold the game together. You’ll gaze in awe every time you use Lumos to scare away vines from a point of interest, and you’ll chuckle every time you see Harry use Parseltongue to unlock a secret reward. There are moments in the game when you’ll struggle to fit a Lego part onto another, and finally succeed after a few tries, but these are rare, and do not blemish the overall experience. The game also offers co-operative multiplayer, where a friend can join in on the action. This makes the game even better. Some of the levels are particularly designed with co-op in mind, and they do work well when you’re playing with a friend. The game offers good replay value too, thanks mainly to the unlockables.
Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 is a rich game in terms of both plot and content. It delivers solid gameplay with a good narrative and comic sense of humour, all with a unique Lego twist. Traveller’s Tales weren’t half shy to take a dig at the movies with their humour, which is very evident in the ending moments of the game. I found myself grinning through most of the game; and this has not been the case lately for Harry Potter fans as far as videogames are concerned. If you’re not a Harry Potter or Lego fan, it’s still a good adventure game, but you’ll probably miss out on the many references that only fans will appreciate. In that respect, this one is primarily for the fans.