It’s too long to wait for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to be released for my Harry Potter fix, so what better way to pass the time than the young wizards step into the LEGO world.
Travellers Tales have again come up with another film franchise to turn into LEGO and I did think that this could be one too many, and it would be too similar to previous games like Lego Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Batman. But I found LEGO Harry Potter to be the best instalment of the LEGO games so far even though it’s still the same formula as previous games.
The game follows the first 4 films which will obviously lead to the final 3 films being released at a later date, possibly near the end of 2011 after Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows movie has been released. As with previous titles, there are some brilliant funny little cutscenes throughout the game and there’s no shortage of them this time around.
The game plays exactly as you’d expect from LEGO games, which is a good thing as I could jump straight in. Little changes have been made, but only very slightly as to use your wand effectively as you’ll have a few spells to choose from throughout the game.
As with previous LEGO games, you have the option to play Story Mode or Freeplay. In case you’ve never had the privilege of playing a LEGO game before, Story Mode follows the story of the films and limits you to a certain number of characters to use within that level. Freeplay on the other hand allows you to choose any player that you’ve unlocked and bought and will then give you enough characters to open, use anything within that level. For example, certain doors can only be opened by a pupil from Slytherin, or you need a character with strength like Hagrid to pull a lever. Things like this add more longevity to the game and will have you trying to complete 100% of each level.
It’s impossible to get lost as Nearly Headless Nick will be on hand to lead you to where you need to be. As he floats along, he’ll leave ghost studs behind him (which unlock a trophy when you collect 500) and take you to your next destination.
There’s still loads to do once you’ve completed the story mode like visiting the leaky cauldron, Diagon Alley and Gringotts. The Leaky Cauldron is where you can enter any level from the story mode or jump into free play or go into Diagon Alley. There’s also a little something extra in the cellar.
Diagon Alley is the place to buy all your extras like new spells, characters, extra golden bricks or even create your own character. At the end of Diagon Alley is Gringotts Banks which has 10 bonus levels which will each reward you with a golden brick and you can also create your own LEGO level with “Become a Builder”. There are four lessons for you to complete so you know who to use all the tools available to you. Then it’s all up to you to play around and add whatever you want, destroy things etc which can be a nice little change to the normal game.
The soundtrack is taken straight from the films which is a nice addition, but some of the tracks from one film, will appear in another. But this only really happens in the grounds of Hogwarts as when you’re playing levels from the films, they do tend to stick to the correct soundtrack. I’m just splitting hairs really and it’s nice that they’ve stuck with the films soundtrack as with previous LEGO games.
The graphics are still as good as previous games with no real massive alterations, but the scenery is impressive and is pretty much a carbon copy from the films so you’ll be able to recognise where you are when roaming the grounds of Hogwarts. There is some occasional screen tear throughout the game which I found to happen in previous titles also, so it would have been nice if they’d have been able to fix it this time round. Other than that, the game is nicely polished with my favourite levels appearing in The Goblet of Fire.
Overall I was really impressed with LEGO Harry Potter. I had my doubts as I thought that it would just be the same old engine just with a different body. In a way it kind of is, but the way that you use the different spells throughout the game makes a nice change. I’m a massive Harry Potter nerd anyway and a big fan of the LEGO games so it was really a win-win situation for me. I’m just glad I wasn’t disappointed by the end result.
If you’re a fan of the LEGO games then I would definitely recommend buying Harry Potter.
3.5 out of 5
Danny ‘Ender’ Martin has been part of the Zath team from pretty much the very beginning since he met Zath himself at Leeds Met University whilst studying Business IT. He’s an avid gamer and a big film buff. Danny graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in Computer Animation and SFX and now currently works at one of the biggest UK games developers, which will hopefully see some of his ideas hit the gaming world.