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I have a fondness for the many Lego games that are currently out there. The film adaptations pack plenty of charm, whilst the now obligatory Lego joke sections make this much more refreshing, and engaging, then a straight forward movie-to-game port. The wordless, but incredibly witty rendition of a popular film, combined with simple platforming has become a staple of the Lego series.
Based on this then, it is easy to say that Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is just like the other games in the series. Whilst for the most part, this is a fair assumption, it isn't entirely accurate. Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 contains some new elements of game play which set this apart from the other films that have gained the Lego treatment.
Firstly, the game introduces spell casting, where spells can be unlocked throughout the game by collecting different pieces of Lego. Combat is undertaken by casting these spells (certain enemies require different spells). Like most Lego games, almost every object can be manipulated, and your chosen character will do this with their wand.
Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is more enjoyable if you are a fan of the original J.K. Rowling penned novels, or the blockbuster film series. The game borrows heavily from key moments in the stories, with extra jokes added in which fans will appreciate. Characters are exaggerated, sound effects are used to heighten the comedic moments, and the music from the films is used throughout. The story is at times tweaked slightly for comedic effect, but it never strays far enough for it not to be a faithful adaptation.
Moments of combat are limited somewhat in comparison to the previous Lego titles (Lego Indiana Jones is much more action-heavy, for example). The sections of combat are light and brief, although there are several boss fights that flesh it out slightly. Players will battle against some of the series memorable enemies, such as Dementors, the gigantic spider, Aragog, and of course, Voldemort. For the most part, the gameplay involves solving simple puzzles, and exploring and manipulating the environment. Anyone who has played a previous title in the Lego series will be familiar with the constant smashing up and reconstructing elements that are placed throughout the game. This Harry Potter edition of course includes this also. The repetitive nature of the game is ceased through the puzzles, which, although easy, are somewhat varied. Puzzle sections in games can be incredibly frustrating at times, but thankfully here they're actually very enjoyable.
Between story missions, players can explore a number of areas, such as Hogwarts, Gringotts Bank and Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley will allow you to spend your Lego money on new costumes, characters, spells, and much more. If you tend to enjoy the smashable side of the Lego games, then money is not hard to come by in the game, so unlocking the characters can be done rather easily.
Harry Potter: Years 1-4 can be completed within about 6 hours, but this does not mean the game is finished for good. There are plenty of areas in the game that can only be unlocked once the game has been completed, or a certain character or spell has been bought at Diagon Alley. The re-playability comes in discovering and playing through these new areas, and working your way through the game for a second or third time to collect enough money to unlock more goodies in the Diagon Alley section. You will only be able to achieve a 100% completion rating if the game is completed more than once as there is just too much to discover, collect and unlock in just one sitting!
The best part about the game is the multi-player function. Lego Harry Potter is much more enjoyable when played with a friend or family member. Playing it through solo earns you an A.I. companion, but one of the games flaws comes in a sometimes difficult A.I. system. At times, computer characters will not help out like they are expected to on co-operative puzzles. Playing through the game with a real-life buddy stops this problem even happening, luckily. What is great about the multi-player function is that another player can join and leave at any time they wish, leaving you to continue with the game solo without having to wait until your companion is next free for a session on the game.
Whilst the A.I. may be a little ropey at times, another minor criticism is the camera angles. At times the camera tends to move to a wrong angle, thus hindering a platforming section. Many platformer games suffer the same problem, but thankfully Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4's camera corrects itself soon enough most of the time.
Overall, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is an incredibly faithful adaptation of the popular J.K. Rowling novels and live-action films. Not only is it perhaps the most enjoyable Harry Potter game to date (a large claim to make, considering there have been so many now), it was, for me, the best Lego title to be released so far. Something just feels so "right" about the gameplay, and the Harry Potter charm that so many have grown to love is evident right here. It's family friendly friendly, charming and simplistic fun.
*This is also featured on 8-Bit Girl: http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2011/10/lego-harry-potter-years-1-4-review.html
*Also on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88"
I had to write a review for this as this game is just so much fun!
I really enjoyed the Lego Star Wars editions so, as a huge fan of all things potter, I was obviously super excited when I saw that there was to be a Harry Potter version.
Admittedly I was a bit skeptical when I saw they had combined 4 books/movies into one game as I thought that they would have to cut a load out but I was pleasantly surprised.
The storyline mirrors the books/movies and you can switch between usually 2-3 characters easily. It is fun because certain parts of the game require a certain character's special technique, for example there are parts where you have to play Fang the dog before you can progress. The game requires you to unlock spells and solve puzzles using them. You get to play most of the key characters from the films which is fun although you can only pick from the provided selection, not just pick who you want.
Though people who have read the books will notice the missing features the game is pretty much true to the films and all of the scenes are recognisable.
The graphics on this game are high quality and the detailing is all very well thought through. Nothing seems to be overlooked and there are no glitches that I have noticed.
The sound is well thought out as there is the original soundtrack from the films on there which makes it all that more fun.
Probably one of the best features of the game is that you can interact with pretty much anything and if you get bored of doing the storyline it is sometimes fun to just go and dangle one of the wandering classmates in the air.
I think that the age rating on this game is suitable although I don't think it would be a problem for younger children who just want to have a run around since there is no full on violence or death, when you lose a life you merely burst into smaller lego bricks (it's quite pretty really) and start over as if nothing happened. Whenever my younger cousins come round and get bored I stick this on and leave them to it as hitting a combination of buttons will do something to keep them entertained even if they aren't getting anywhere in the storyline.
The co-op mode may be where it gets a little harder, especially if you are playing with anyone like my little brother. The game itself is easy but since it is not split screen you have to be within close proximity to the other player otherwise you cannot progress forward. The game has parts where it has been specifically made for co-op mode and it is great fun to use a combination of spells with your partner to solve these puzzles.
Overall I think this game is a must for any Harry Potter or Lego fan and it can provide hours of entertainment in either single or co-op mode.
As a relative newcomer to the world of next generation console gaming my recent purchase of an Xbox 360 has proved to be a bit of a revelation and I have been hugely impressed at just how far games have come since I began playing all those years ago on my Sega Mega Drive and Nintendo gaming systems. With my Xbox came Lego Batman and I spent many an hour trying to complete the game, I'd heard much about the Lego series and had seen the television advertisements for them and my first impressions were that they looked like they were going to be a fun way to pass a few hours on. My instinct proved to be correct and I enjoyed the experience of playing Batman so much that shortly after its release date I bought the latest in the Lego series of games; Harry Potter Years 1-4.
In this review I hope to give an oversight to the game itself and discuss the things which I think are important in a game. It won't be technical and it won't give away any secrets as I think half the fun of these types of games is making these discoveries for yourself. So once the disc is unwrapped from its confines and loaded onto your Xbox you are immediately plunged into the world of Harry Potter and the cast of characters created by JK Rowling.
**The Game Itself**
The main game is split into four years as the name of the game suggests so you start right at the beginning when Harry first discovers that he is a wizard and is taken to Hogwarts School by Hagrid. The first book was all about establishing Harry into his new environment and the search for the Philosophers stone so this part of the game serves as a gentle introduction. It isn't particularly complicated, the game is split into levels which sees Harry, Ron and Hermione learning spells and putting them to use whilst it gives you the chance to get used to the movement of the characters and what the buttons on your controller controls. As you would expect you have full movement control of the character and can make them run and jump whilst casting spells from their wands. This is an area which is incredibly responsive and unlike some games where you can become frustrated when a character doesn't do what you want them to do the Lego game programmers have really made sure that you do have complete control.
You have the option throughout the game of playing as different characters and as you will discover when playing each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, certain characters can do things that others can't and as you get deeper into the levels you will have to switch to someone who, for example is stronger than someone else. This does take some getting used to and certainly keeps you on your toes as you will encounter some 'things' which take some thinking how they can be overcome. Similarly the amount of spells at your disposal becomes quite large and certain spells will do certain things so for example you may have to lift a rock away from a cave opening, one spell allows you to do this and you have to select the appropriate option. This again has been an area which has been well thought about and it really is as simple as scrolling through your spells (which are shown on screen and are easily accessed) before deciding on which one to use. There are plenty of opportunities to try out your spells within the levels and as you become accustomed to the controller and what it allows you to do you instinctively know how to go about getting past the obstacles in your way.
A lot of the game is taken up with blasting apart everything you come across as there are plenty of hidden items which you need to find, as the graphics are rendered in Lego format it really is fun to see how they fall apart when a spell is fired at them. There are numerous quests which are a sideline to the main game itself and completing the quests will result in additional items being unlocked and, if you are familiar with the other Lego games, you will know that there is certainly plenty to do and plenty of goals to achieve.
The graphics in the game can only be described as beautiful and the attention to detail really makes for an impressive sight, whilst everything has been built out of Lego it has a real 3D quality to it and you really do feel as if you are part of the game. The backdrops of Hogwarts itself are particularly impressive and you do get a feel for how big the game is just by running around exploring the different rooms and corridors and even the grounds and surrounding water. The thing which impresses me most of all about the Lego games is just how *big* they actually are, the is so much content in them that you will need to dedicate a lot of gaming hours into fully exploring the environment which has been created. The game play on Harry Potter isn't difficult and the levels are easy to master in the main game itself it's when you come to the end and 'freeplay' mode is opened up that you can fully appreciate just how much effort has gone into creating the world in which the characters live and all the individual elements that have gone into each and every level that requires a second and sometimes third visit.
This isn't a game which you can expect to complete in a couple of days, even the most serious gamer will have to dedicate a substantial number of hours if they want to fully find everything the game has to offer. I have played it now for a few weeks and am still nowhere near 100% completion but it's the lure of the game which keeps me going back to it. The characters are easy to control, the environment is impressive to see and the prospect of finding new things to do and places to visit still excites me even now, I only have Lego Batman to compare this to and as much as I enjoyed that game Harry Potter years 1-4 is by far my favourite of the two.
The fact that you are effectively getting 4 games for the price of 1 really impresses me too, each of the years themselves could have made for an individual game in their own right, its perhaps that the books have been out for a few years now that Lego decided to incorporate the earlier ones into one game which covers the early years. Each of the chapters have their own beginning and end and follow the plots of the books they represent and even as the years go on the characters have subtle changes in their appearance which I didn't notice until it dawned on me that Harry looked a little older when I started to play year 4. I wouldn't say that you would need to know the books to play this game but if you are familiar with the characters then you will probably understand the humour and references that are played out in the cut-scenes -which I have to say are a joy to see in their own right.
The sense of good fun and humour is a running theme throughout the game and there are places where it is put to really good use, the game has a certain 'feel good' factor about it and I couldn't help but be enthralled and taken in by it all. It has an age guidance of 7+ which I think is about right simply due to the size of the actual game and a couple of the battles are really quite challenging, that combined with the fact that you do have to your wits about you when it comes to selecting which spell to use or which character to play as means there is plenty to think about and consider when it comes to the later stages of the game.
For its current price of £31.99 as it currently stands you certainly get your money's worth with this game, I paid £34.99 for it from Tesco so it has already started to come down in price. For a Christmas present to an older child or teenager this should be one to consider especially if they are fans of the Harry Potter franchise. Older players such as myself who have read the books and seen the films can appreciate the humour and the playability of the game and overall this is a game which I wholeheartedly recommend. There are plenty of things I haven't even mentioned in this review, as stated earlier part of the fun is making these discoveries for yourself and judging by other reviews in other places this has been a well received game which has attracted some glowing praise.
5/5 dooyoo stars from me for Harry Potter Years 1-4, as far as a gaming experience goes this is about as close to perfection as you can get. I have no grumbles, no niggles and no areas about the game which I could find fault with and it's on that basis that this comes highly recommended by me.
Thanks for reading my review.
I'd like to invite you all to reading my review of Lego Harry Potter - years 1-4. It's the latest instalment of the Lego-games and was made by Travellers Tales. I've played most of these games so far (Lego Star Wars, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Batman) and I just love them, so buying Lego Harry Potter on release date (25/06 in Europe) was basically a no-brainer for me.
This review was written during my first playthrough, and at the time I posted this review I was at about 55% completion (did the story missions and most of the bonus missions, found a reasonable amount of collectibles, messed around a bit with the building module, about to start free-play).
As the title suggests, it's a Lego-game and it follows the story of the first four Harry Potter movies (with a humorous twist to it - check out what Ginny does to Tom Riddle at the end of "Chamber of Secrets" for instance). Just like in every other Lego-game, it is somewhat mandatory to have seen the movies beforehand if you want to know what's going on since the characters still insist on mumbling rather than actually explaining what's going on.
The story takes place in several locations, some small and others huge. These include Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and the Forbidden Forest (among others).
Diagon Alley is set up just like any other Lego-hub you've seen. It features several stores - stores to buy new characters, extras, spells... or to input cheat codes. There, you'll also find the Leaky Cauldron where you can replay missions and Gringotts where you can access bonus missions.
I really, really like what they did with Hogwarts however. Since you're spending most of your time there, it was really necessary to give the player the feel like they're actually walking around the school (and not just the Gryffindor common-room). It's huge, every room you could imagine being in Hogwarts is there (I haven't found the Room of Requirement yet, although that's really more something for the next game). And another thing I really liked was that the world changes as you progress - for instance in the second year when Gilderoy Lockhart is teaching, he is usually followed by a flock of high pitched screaming girls and in the third year you see Dementors flying around.
Between story missions you can take classes to learn new spells and/or techniques (Charms, Herbology and Potions among others), jinx Malfoy, unlock new areas, jinx Snape, help students in peril, jinx Lockhart, collect golden bricks, jinx Lockhart some more, collect parcels, and did I mention you could jinx Lockhart?
Since taking the classes and unlocking new areas are mandatory to advance the story, you can easily add the time spent on that to the time needed to complete the 24 story missions (6 missions per year), making it one of the lengthier Lego-games to date.
The core-gameplay hasn't changed compared to the other Lego-games. It's still a combination of cartoony action, some platforming and puzzle-solving. You still control two or more characters inside or outside of missions, you still need to collect Lego studs (which still act as currency) and you still need to build or destroy items to advance during missions. After you've completed the story, you can as always do it all again in free-play... More of the same, really.
So far, every Lego game has managed to stand out from the other games due to some unique features. In Star Wars you could use The Force, Indy had his trusted whip and Batman had his different costumes and his Batarangs (but still no shark-repellent). And Harry can use magic and brew potions.
After Harry acquires his wand, you'll gradually learn spells over the course of the four years, not every spell is immediately available from the start. For example: in the first year you'll learn the spells "Wingardium Leviosa" and "Lumos" and learn to brew a potion for super-strength. In the second year you'll learn how to handle Mandrakes, learn how to deal with pixies and how to brew Polyjuice-potion. In the third year you'll learn how to deal with Boggarts and Dementors... While you unlock new abilities, you can use the new abilities in free-play and even unlock new areas in Hogwarts - the unlocking of new areas gave me a bit of an Arkham Asylum-vibe to it.
Unlike the other Lego-games where every character had a set amount of abilities unlocked from the start, the characters in Lego HP gradually learn new abilities. In the end all characters can more or less use the same spells and the difference between the characters becomes really thin. There are some minor differences between the characters though: Harry can fly broom-sticks and has his invisibility-cloack, Ron has Scabbers (tiny character that can run around in maze-like tubes), Hermione has a book (mini-game is identical to the one in Lego Indy, but much much easier), Hagrid has super-strength, Fang can dig holes...
Something that still annoys me is the shear amount of versions of the same character you get: Harry wearing a blue shirt, a sweater, a tuxedo, his school outfit, some more outfits... and the same outfits for Ron and Hermione to boot.
Another thing that bugged me, was that Ron is supposed to be afraid of spiders. But when his character is near spiders he doesn't act scared (unless it's a Boggart posing as a spider). I admit that I was expecting something more along the lines of Lego Indy, since that's the game where they first introduced phobias.
Throughout the game, there are lots and lots of things for you to collect, both in and out of the missions. And unlike some other games that require you to find 200 pigeons (which I found extremely boring), I find that looking for collectibles in Lego-games is actually fun and challenging. Here's a quick run-down on stuff you can find.
In every story mission you need to collect four house-crests to form the Hogwarts-crest, similar to finding ten different mini-kits to build a vehicle.
There are 50 students in peril you need to help, similar to the Batman-game. Some can be found throughout the story-missions while others are at Hogwarts or in Hogsmeade. Some are on high ledges and are afraid to get down, some are caught in Devil's Snare or spider-webbings and others are bullied by those ever sympathetic boys and girls from Slytherin.
There are 167 characters to obtain. Unlike the other games characters don't automatically unlock or become available for purchase in the store based on your progress in the story. You need to obtain a character-token first, before it becomes available for you to purchase in Diagon Alley. In every story mission you can find 3 of those tokens, and the rest are scattered over the world.
There are 20 parcels to find which unlock extras. Finding them alone won't do the trick however. After you find them you need to post them, similar to the Indy-game - only this time: OWL-POST!
And if that's not enough, there are 2 - that's right - 2 hundred gold bricks for you to find. These can be obtained by finishing missions, helping students in peril, getting True Wizard-status, buying them, finding them in various places... If you want to unlock the bonus missions and want to obtain "a certain character I shouldn't even be mentioning" you need to find all of them.
There are some bugs that prevent you from getting 100%. If you should get stuck in a mission and should exit mid-mission and then should try to reload said mission, it could skip to the next one. I've read on the forums that several people have had it on mission 2-4. I've had it on mission 2-3 myself. And often you can't replay the mission you skipped, so if you run into this bug, you can't get to 100%. So hereby, a well-meant "Crucio" to however it was that did the quality-control.
Graphics / Sound
Graphics are what you've come to expect of a Lego-game: the main characters are made of Lego bricks and the backgrounds are still a mix of a "real" setting and Lego elements. It all looks a bit shinier than the other games though. Screen-tearing has somewhat plagued the previous Lego-games, and it is no different with this game.
Kudos for the sound, because the voice-acting is once again top-notch (the characters are mumbling and giggling most convincingly) and they also got to use the original soundtrack of the movies.
The only thing that really annoyed me about the sound though, was the constant screams of excitement when any of the girl characters saw Gilderoy Lockhart strutting around Hogwarts, which is one of the reasons why I was so keen on jinxing him on every available opportunity. (The other reasons being that Gilderoy is a giant prat and that jinxing him is more fun than jinxing Snape.)
Not all that high, I'm afraid. After you've 100% any Lego-game, you're basically through. It's a fun experience, but it's not fun enough to do another playthrough within the next year or so. And if I start again, I doubt I'll be trying to 100% it once more.
People who are into achievements can 1000 this game in one playthrough. Most of the achievements are obtained if you go for 100% completion. Others include "beat character x1 with character x2" or "beat y spiders with Ron" or "freeze z characters using the Glacius spell", but since the prerequisite amount of times you need to do said action is so low there's absolutely no need to replay levels endlessly to obtain those achievements.
If you want to build your own levels, you can do that since the building module makes a come-back. Perhaps it's due to my limited imagination, but I just can't make a level look even remotely decent. I'm convinced it's easier to do on PC with the use of a handy mouse, since the controller isn't really suited for it. I also feel the possibilities are somewhat limited - after all it's clearly something they added to this game without giving it much thought (other than "Hey Little Big Planet had it, why can't we?"). With some easier handling, a lot more possibilities and a creative online-community the building module could easily be released as a stand-alone game.
+ Lots and lots to do to get 100%
+ Still fun and addicting
+ Brain candy
- More of the same
- Not much variation between characters (both abilities and appearance)
- Bugs could prevent you from getting 100%
- The building module should've been left out
Lego HP is once again a good and fun game, and challenging enough to 100%. It's not the type of game you'll be playing over and over again, but it's a nice game to play in between bigger releases.
At this time Lego Star Wars III has already been confirmed and it won't be long until we see the announcement of Lego HP II. In other words, we haven't seen the end of Lego games yet. I remain curious to see which franchise they'll get there hands on next time. Let's hope they can come up with some new and refreshing elements. If not, then this type of game will get old really fast.
I also hope that the building module will be released as a stand-alone game, so people can create the most insane levels they can come up with and put them online. And then maybe, just maybe, I can finally get around to playing Lego Saw.