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With a wife who is a huge fan of the Harry Potter film franchise and a fan of the Lego games it was a rather obvious decision to get her the latest of the Lego Harry Potter games but does it live up to what she experienced with the films she loves?
- Excellent graphics mean that this is a great game for adults and children alike as it does not feel too childish despite being a game with Lego at its heart.
- Brilliant animation throughout the game means that you have a very entertaining and immersive experience and thanks to the bright and vibrant animations you can keep children entertained just as much as adults for hours on end.
- Hours worth of gameplay to be had means that this is a real value for money purchase.
- This game is a true movie tie in but thankfully Lego did not decide to rip people off by doing one for each film and instead have given us a huge amount of gameplay to be had thanks to years 5-7 (remembering that year 7 was split into 2 films) meaning you have a massive 4 movies tied in to one game.
- High level detail means that this game is truly tied in with the movies closely and despite it being a Lego based game you can see clearly the film locations and scenes throughout.
- Play as multiple characters and with another player (if you wish to) as you work your way through the levels and aim to complete the game.
Overall this is a top quality game which offers up excellent quality graphics and gameplay throughout. A movie tie in that has a total of 4 films built in to it so that this game gives excellent value for money. Fun and addictive gameplay with your favourite characters from the movies means that this is a true game from those who love the films or even just those who enjoy playing the Lego console games.
My very first experience with the Lego games was with the first Lego Harry Potter game and after receiving the game for Christmas I haven't stopped playing it. Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 focuses on the last three books and films in the series. I feel it is more reminiscent to the films than the books but this may be because seeing it through game play and on-screen gives you better visuals and makes it easier to notice similarities.
The game kicks off at the very beginning of the Order of The Pheonix where Harry is being tormented by Dudley and his gang. In the evening he is taken alongside Mad Eye and Lupin to Grimauld Place where he is introduced to the rest of the Order - although he already knows most of them. One little extra feature I loved about this opening was the use of the broom which, whilst not exactly limited in the first game, is not quite as advanced as this focused on travelling through the air to get to a location rather than just solving a puzzle. I also really liked the new camera angles as this isn't just side scrolling. The plot then follows Harry going to his trial and nearly being expelled from Hogwarts however he is able to go back with his friends. Another addition I enjoyed was the small journey between The Leaky Cauldron and Kings Cross. Rather than just being transported to Hogwarts you go through the station and when you get to the other side there is a short trip up to the school which just added to the gameplay and gave you more to look at. It didn't add a lot on to the actual game but I felt it was an improvement.
One thing I did find mildly annoying was thanks to the arrival of Delores Umbridge the previous spells are disabled and you are left with a limited few however this just enables you to learn the more advanced spells that Harry and his friends learnt. The player then continues with various scenes highlighted from the fifth book which introduces the abilities of other characters. One of the newest additions to the game was the Weasley boxes which feature certain things like fireworks or sticky shoes which only a Weasley can use. If you like your trophies on the PS3 like I do then there is one to collect which involves opening a box with every Weasley. Much like the first game you unlock characters in Madam Malkins in Diagon Alley once you have found them in either Story or Freeplay mode. Like before there are certain scenes where you are forced to use other characters rather than the heroic threesome such as Dumbledore and Hagrid however you don't really get much use from these characters until you proceed to Freeplay mode as the plot generally focuses on Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Another similarity between the first and the second game is the collectables. You are once again able to collect Red and Gold bricks. The red bricks can then be used to unlock cheats to help you progress easily through the game if you wish to use them. One thing I found was that the very first few red bricks are very easy to find which can not be said for the first game. However this was quite misleading as the rest aren't quite so obvious and require a little more problem solving. There are also the Students in Peril to rescue, the House Crests to collect which unlike the first game are alot less obvious and harder to find until you begin Free play mode and of course there is the Stud collector achievements which give you 'True Wizard' status. The studs are basically the in game currency and different colours mean different amounts. The colours are no different from the first game.
Another feature you learn in the game is the ability to Duel. This is a great addition and is an advantage when it comes to multiplayer. It basically adds in a mini game where you have to match the colour to the enemies weakness to battle them. Duels seem to be more frequent than boss battles. I also found that the structure of boss battles is a lot more complex often involving puzzles to solve throughout the battle rather than just levitating something and hitting them (although you do this quite a bit anyway).
In story mode the game goes on through the sixth book where you are introduced to Slughorn, get to explore Weasleys Joke Shop, have to endure the love potion chocolates (really rather funny) and learn more of the young Voldemort's story. I do quite like the flash back scenes and quite happy that they've added a few more of these in but then again they are key scenes in the books and films. The seventh part 1 and seventh part 2 levels involve various locations such as Malfoy Manor, Gringotts, The Lovegood Residence, Hogwarts, The Ministry of Magic and Hogsmeade as you travel around with Harry, Ron and Hermione trying to solve the puzzle of the Hocruxes and The Deathly Hallows. Once completed Free Play mode becomes considerably easier as you have the spells and characters needed to progress however it is not essential that you complete Free Play mode unless you are seeking 100% game completion.
Graphically the game is attractive and has been clearly updated in this version. Some of the rendering is easier on the eye and a little more realistic however everything still has that lego charm that I've come to love in these games. There is no dialogue, which I believe is a common occurrence in the Lego games (because Lego can not speak...) which I actually find refreshing and the grunts and facial features are self explanatory. It's surprising actually how easy the game is to understand and follow when there is no use of language but then again for the most part there is a ghost that shows you where you need to go and if wasn't for him I would probably still be stuck in the Gryffindor common room. The music is enjoyable and just adds to the light hearted atmosphere.
I really enjoyed playing through story mode and I am still enjoying going over it. Because of my previous experience of the first game I did rush through story mode as I knew I wouldn't be able to unlock everything until I had the money, spells and characters needed which has probably made me miss a few things however it's a game I find myself going back to over and over again and has been well worth playing. I haven't properly experienced the multiplayer features on the game as I have no one to play with (sob) but I did experience them on the first game and found them more of a hinderence, however that is probably because my partner kepts turning me into ice...the actual function of the multplayer mode and ideas behind it are very good but they are not how I like to play games. I also like how they have added in a few extras that only certain characters can operate much like the book puzzles, key vaults and heavy pulling objects there is now the Weasley boxes and the parceltongue cabinets. This has already made my game of the year, mainly because I'm not a very good gamer and this is actually quite easy for me. I enjoy the puzzle challenges and whilst the game is not complex I have spend a few moments running around in circles casting my wand at anything that will blow up and enjoyed it very, very much. I would recommend this for any gamers, new or old, as it really is a great game that's easy to go back to over and over and over again.
It doesn't get much more fun than this game if you like all things Lego, Harry Potter and blasting things whilst solving puzzles, as you will know if you have played other games from developer Travellers Tales - this game is more of the same and a natural progression from Years 1-4, in a good way. If you haven't played a Lego game before then you are in for a treat with this one, which in my opinon is probably the best of all the series, most of which I have played from start to finish in two player mode, this game being no exception. Having played through the entire game from years 5-7 (like in the films the final year is split into two sections), in story mode, I'm still enjoying going back through it in Free Play and as different characters to unlock and find items that I couldn't access first time around. Like the other games in the series this game has many different goals and interests which will keep you playing for a long time and it's enjoyable for both adults and children alike. If you played and enjoyed Years 1-4 then the sequel will not disappoint, though you don't have to have played the first game in order to be able to pick up a controller and start enjoying the game on its own merits.
The game follows the story of the books, and by extension the films pretty faithfully as far as I can tell - I have to admit to having given up on the both at about Year 5, but this doesn't mean that I couldn't enjoy seeing how the story ends via Lego figures. You play through in chronological order. There are humourous cut scenes to progress the story featuring Lego mini figures for all the characters - they've even aged Hermione, Harry and Ron visibly from the first game. The cut scenes can be a little slow to load but weren't over dominant in my opinion, and in HD on PS3 some of them are visually stunning, albeit a little scary to my 8 year old playing partner, who hasn't read any of the books or seen the films and proves that you can play and enjoy the games without background Harry knowledge. It does seem however that Muggles and Hogwarts are pretty well part of our national heritage and in our collective psyche, and knowing a little of the background will help you enjoy the game play, especially doing spells and the like. There's not much quidditch in this title - unlike in the first one, and Hagrid doesn't feature as much either (presumably in line with the books), both features I personally missed but I did enjoy some of the new elements in this game as I shall explain.
Though the game is perfectly playable in single player mode (you use triangle on the PS3 controller to switch between characters which you will need to do to progress through the levels), and the AI works well, having played both single and two player on this game in my opinion the latter has the edge. In co-op play the game features the split screen Travellers Tales first used in their Indiana Jones title, so if you wander too far apart you can explore the world independantly, get closer together and the screen knits back togeher seamlessly. It's clever and works well and stops you from dragging your co-player to their death or getting annoyed with each other as you can play by yourself but also team up to solve puzzles, building stairs, pulling ropes or blasting baddies.
The game sees the characters wandering around the now familiar backgrounds of Hogwarts and the like. You will need to solve puzzles, mainly blasting things and building things out of lego or using a variety of spells in order to progress through the game; like in years 1-4 there is a ghost guide to show you where to go - he leaves a trail of studs which you follow, through the scenery. This feature is good - it makes the game accessible without rendering it too easy. Other things that they have kept from the first game include the ability of some of the characters to transform into their animal selves - Ron's owl in this one is particularly cute, and like in the previous title you have to gradually acquire spells, though there are a couple of new ones, namely a water spell and blasting block spell that both new to the series and seasoned Potter Lego players will enjoy alike. The controls are intuitive and it's less tricky than you would think to scroll through spells, which vary from character to character and characters in free play, the controls have been well thought through. The music too - again from the film - as well as the sound effects are fitting and seamless, from the fanfare you get when you release a trapped student or the reassuring noise of a lego piece slotting into the right place.
Overall I found the gameplay a natural progression and satisfying as it felt like you picked up where you had left off, though towards the end it did get a bit samey - there was one too many magic duel and throwing object at boss scene for my liking, but I still found I wanted to play to the end and beyond with the free play. The developer still doesn't seem to have quite sorted out the physics of the game either - characters are still pretty poor at bouncing on things and prone to falling off things - this is pretty disappointing really, and we did find a few bugs in the game though much less than in the first title, a couple of times we had to restart a level or it froze. New features such as the Weasley boxes - these see Ron being able to put on special shoes and walk up things, in a nod to the Lego Batman Game, and the glasses you put on to find invisible lego more than made up for any repetition or slight niggles I may have had. The bottom line is it's a fun game.
Items to Collect:
Through the various levels as well as the aforementioned spells you will find you have to collect studs for use as currency, golden bricks, character studs (these can then be bought and used to play from a shop in Diagon Alley) and there are also hidden postboxes and pupils in danger to rescue (as also featured in previous games) which will allow you to unlock things like x 2 studs and an advanced guide which will tell you how many hidden items you still need to find per level. Seeking out hidden areas and items is as fun as it ever was and really adds to the longevity and challenge of the game.
Though arguably this is just more of the exact same from this series, with a few new bits, actually more of the same seems to be a good thing in this case. I, and my co-op player really enjoyed this game and we have had literally hours of fun from it, making it a bargain at the £22 we paid for it - the price on ps3 does seem to fluctuate a lot so it's worth looking around. I was hoping when I started playing this, having played years 1-4, that this game would not disappoint, it didn't and that's why I would recommend it if you enjoy this kind of game, though if you are new to Lego Harry Potter you may want to play the first game first you don't have to. Recommended, it's predictable but fun gaming from a tried and tested series.