The LEGO series of games is a tough one to follow exactly where they will go next. We have seen LEGO incarnations of Star Wars, Batman, Indiana Jones, Rock Band and now, Harry Potter. The series jumps all over the place. But what remains constant is that the games are fun and they work. That’s what LEGO are supposed to do, right? They are meant to cater to imaginations of all shapes and sizes. LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 has arrived and it is everything you would expect, the Harry Potter series told through those lovable brick pieces.
The story is played out through cutscenes that fans of the movie and books would instantly understand. However, it is going to be unfortunate for those who have no prior knowledge of Harry Potter, because there are no subtitles or words spoken. Each cutscene is like watching a silent movie, and the only things uttered are mere grunts and giggles. This game is certainly a fan service for the Harry Potter fans, as LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 would be a harsh introduction to the franchise.
The gameplay is relatively simple. You walk around, and you can use various powers and characters. There are not many enemies in LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4. It’s not about defeating enemies to move on. Instead, you move along by figuring out what to do in each room you are placed in. This usually means using various spells and sometimes switching to other characters for character specific spells. At first, it looked like an interesting way to get players to use more of their brains rather than mindless beat-em upping, but soon, the realization sets in that it is just as mindless.
Get ready to use Wingardium Leviosa, where you move and reform objects. That’s the spell you will be using for the majority of the game. There are also a number of times where you have to find three different ingredients to make a potion that will allow you to unlock the next room. This usually means ripping a room apart to find each ingredient. It is almost like each room is just a big game of trial and error. When playing LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4, don’t be surprised when you find yourself saying something along the lines of, “if reforming this cabinet doesn’t help me find a key, then it has to have something to do with the objects that spit out of the drawer I just blasted open.” There is no real way to know what will help you and what will not. And the bosses are not much different. There is so much Wingardium Leviosa that it makes you feel sad that a cool spell like Expelliarmus isn’t used more.
The graphics look as they should. You have a world made entirely out of LEGO, and they look so much like real LEGO that you can almost begin to smell the plastic. The camera angles get a little iffy sometimes during gameplay, but not enough to take you out of your element. The multi-player camera is one where you have one fixed angle when both players are close enough together, but goes into split-screen if one player happens to wander off. It transitions really smoothly, and lessens the amount of fighting over which way to go compared to the previous LEGO titles.
Multi-player is much more fun to play than single-player, but it is definitely a bit more difficult. During single-player, your computer controlled partner pulls off all the co-op sections of the game with perfection. With multi-player, it gets a little clumsy because, unfortunately, friends are not perfect. It also unfortunate that co-op is not available online, but two-player games like these aren’t ideally played over the internet anyway. There is just something about having a buddy right next to you during a co-op adventure game that makes it so much more fun.
LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 has a lot of replay value to it. Collecting LEGO pieces and hidden objects is an option to all those who like to complete a game in its entirety. The game can be beaten in about 8-10 hours, but the amount of content outside of the main game can last you a very long time. This content comes in the form of extra stages, stuff to purchase, and collecting of characters. Aside from some very minor hiccups, LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 is a fun game that could have benefit from a little more variety. The game is intended for a younger audience, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone like myself found it a little too easy. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you should love it. If you’re a gamer, you should simply rent it as it is a decent game. If you’re both, you already have it.
- Game: LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4
- Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
- Release Date: 6/29/2010
- MSRP: $49.99
- Developer: Traveller’s Tales
- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Also Available on: PS3, Wii, PC, PSP and DS
- Review copy info: A copy of this title was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for purposes of this review.