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At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, this is a bit of a pointless review. There are so many Lego games now that the chances are you will already have played at least one and the general rule of thumb is if you enjoy one, you will enjoy others.
Still, for what it's worth, this one's based around events in the last few Harry Potter novels: The Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Parts 1 &2. Each are presented as stand-alone episodes and made up of several sub-levels
You will certainly get more out of this game if you are a Harry Potter fan. Personally, I think it's over-rated claptrap (cue screams of outrage), so only ever read the first book. As such, I can't comment on how faithful an adaptation this game is. The downside to my woeful lack of Potter knowledge was that when it came to the cut scenes (which are far too numerous and too long), I had no idea what was going on, nor did I recognise any but the most obvious characters or know how they fitted into the plot. Thankfully this doesn't matter, since the basic gameplay remains: smash the Lego blocks, destroy stuff
Oddly, despite being a direct sequel to the Years 1-4 game, a number of gameplay changes have been made (some good, some not so). It's actually probably closer in terms of both presentation and general gameplay to Lego Batman 2.
Graphics are a step up from the previous game. As you would expect from a Lego game, it's bright and colourful and all the Lego characters look good. A big improvement is that it's now much clearer which bits of the scenery can be smashed and which cannot - removing at least one frustration from the earlier title. It's a game that will appeal to kids thanks to its bright presentation but which adults won't be ashamed to be seen playing.
The major disappointment comes with the cut-scenes. Like Lego Batman 2, the quality is appalling - grainy, low resolution images that have clearly been rendered on another (more powerful) console and then squeezed onto a DS cart. They are also too long and too frequent (and, as far as I can tell, there is no way to skip them.
Sound has also made a quantum leap forward. Whilst the sound has always been pretty strong in the Lego games, it has a far more cinematic quality here. Many tunes have been taken directly from the films and sound great. Developer Traveller's Tales have also taken the sensible decision not to use full speech for characters and instead they speak in the familiar grunts and squeaks which suit the style of the game far better.
Of course, none of the Lego titles are exactly challenging, and this is no exception. You get infinite lives and whilst the game is littered with puzzles, none of them are taxing. The game is very much on-rails, so you can't wander into areas you're not meant to be and if you really get stuck, there are clues as to what character or spell you need to solve a particular puzzle. Level design is generally good, limiting the amount of doubling back, although it does become a little tiresome towards the end, with the final levels descending into little more than a series of dull, repetitive duels between various characters. This problem is repeated if you want to complete the game 100% as you are forced to enter the Duelling School to unlock the final few characters, where you simply fight duel after duel after duel. Zzzzzzzzz.
There are lots of characters and abilities to unlock and whilst the game itself is easy to complete, there's a lot of long term appeal in going back and finding everything. Completing Story Mode, unlocks Free Play which allows you to explore hidden areas using the different characters you have unlocked. As ever, Free Play Mode is actually a lot more fun than Story Mode, so it's no chore at all to keep replaying levels until you have found all the hidden goodies. Despite its simplicity, Years 5-7 offers good value for money and provides a lot of entertainment. I'd guess there's about 20-30 hours game time in this title if you look to complete 100%.
Another big improvement is the regularity of Save points. A gripe with previous Lego games was the length of some of the levels, with levels structured in such a way that if you had to exit before you reached the end of a level, you lost all progress. Here, levels are split down into sub-levels and every time you move onto a new sub-level, your progress is saved. Of course, this also makes an already easy game even easier, but it doesn't significantly shorten its lifespan - it just makes it easier to grab a quick game when you only have a short time to spare.
The one big disappointment was the controls which I actually thought were a retrograde step. Potter Years 1-4 had really innovative controls, requiring you to draw spells on the DS touchscreen. Whilst it wasn't without its problems, it was an excellent way of making the game more immersive. Sadly, these have been ditched for the sequel in favour of more traditional controls that use the D-Pad and action buttons. Whilst there's (almost) nothing wrong with the controls, they do feel a lot less innovative.
The one negative aspect is that sometimes controls can be a little finicky, requiring you to stand on exactly the right spot for them to work. Move just a smidgeon too far to the left or right and nothing happens. It wasn't a major issue once you realised the issue, but a little more careful play-testing could have ironed it out.
Despite the fact that I'm a big Batman fan with no interest in Harry Potter, I actually found this a better game than Lego Batman 2. I think the Potter universe translates better to this type of game and whilst the plot passed me by, the game itself kept me entertained. It costs around £12 for a new copy and whether you are a Potter fan or not, it's well worth every penny.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
Coming up to the end of Harry Potter years 1-4 I had already seen this in the shops when browsing so I knew I didn't need to wait for it to be released. After looking around this seemed to be the same sort of price everywhere and I purchased this used from Game for £19.99. Normally I wouldn't pay that much for a game and especially a used one but at this point it was a must have game. After spending a week captivated by the first game I had hoped that this would be just as awesome.
Even if you haven't played the first Lego HP game the title describes exactly what this game is about, you work your way through the levels and events from the books/films in order to complete that year. You can't skip a head a year until you have completed the year before. These are of course years Order of the phoenix, the half blood prince and the deathly hallows. This is the same concept at the first game. We start the game off with a video clip remastered in lego style of Harry and Dudley in the park before the dementor attack, We then start the game itself in the park and the first thing I noticed is that this time there is a jump button. (hurray!) Working our way through the scenes of the book/film such as saving Dudley from the dementor's in the park. As well as roughly following the book/film plot we have some extra things we need to do within the levels, in the snowy village we have to resue our class mates who are stuck in ice or snow and we need to do certain tasks to move on through the level and we cannot proceed until we have done this.
Personally in both this and the first game I like they way they have roughly stuck to the original plot, this should please any harry potter fans but they also have extra things to do such as target practise and saving your mates. In this game I found that we are sneaking around with the cloak a lot of the time and when we do this we can only walk so it does make the game slow paced. New characters are introduced who we can actually play as and do different things for example we collect Luna and when we play as her we can put on her silly glasses, these help us to locate and see hidden items in order to reach our achievements, also Fred and George are more advanced, they have all their fireworks and some shoes that allow us to walk sidewards on walls to gain height, coins, hats and hidden items.
===Controls and difficulty level===
The controls are a big improvement on the original controls, we can use the D pad to move, the letters to cast spells and charge them, we can now jump, this is a big deal to me because it allows us more freedom within the game. On the first game we could only jump to where we was told to jump but this time we can jump on anything low enough within the level excluding the edge of the level. This makes is funny because we can play on the park and get achievements such as sliding down the slide and jumping up the ladders which is a giggle. Over all the game isn't overly difficult, a child of any age would be able to work this out without the aid of a walk through. However this was more and more frustrating as it's harder to find the golden hats, lego pieces and even the character cards.
===Music and Graphics===
Again the music is basically the instrumentals from the films of harry potter, these do work really well because they help create an eerie ghostly feel to the level or if there is a chase the tempo is quicker and the nice flute music comes on when something curious is going to happen or you're going to find something, I'm glad they've kept the rough music from the films for both of the games. The graphics on this game don't seem to be as good as the first game. Unfortunately they seem to be trying to make the Lego figures more human like, their shape seems more curved and normal just with the design of a lego person over it and I don't like that at all, apart from the figures everything else explodes into lego and does look lego, ish. The levels are flawed and contain many glitches, when drinking a strength potion it takes ages to get away from the cauldron because you seem to be stuck there.
I was deeply disappointed with this game, because the first one was so good and captivating I spent a full week completing it, then I spotted this and had such high expectations but I was wrong of course. The video clips which are of course more darker than the first game due to the story line, nonetheless they are still funny and a plus side of this is was can actually skip the video clips now too, this time I never watched them all. The lego Figures, runs and actions are still comical but less lego-y. This game has a great mix of true to the book/film levels with some bonus extra things we can do too. I found that when casting a spell if I were stood too close to the item to even cast a spell and a lot of the time it went in the wrong direction anyway! Another downside is that the title and menu's have now changed, it is a little harder for me to find my way around the menu's and achievements than the first game after being so used to that format. This also doesn't have a map and we just have to find ourselves where we are going. despite there being a lot of negative points to the game it a good game, but not a captivating one.