As an outsider looking in, the prospect of a LEGO game isn’t that appealing. No spoken dialogue throughout the entire game, the use of LEGO as the main graphical style and the fact that the game is aimed at a younger audience left me suspicious of whether this was a winning formula. But it has been proved time and time again that LEGO games work and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 doesn’t disappoint as the long-awaited continuation of the previous LEGO Harry Potter title: Years 1-4. To think I ever entertained the thought that Feral Interactive weren’t up to the challenge of reviving Harry’s journey another time seems ridiculous in retrospect because this is a game worth getting.
LEGO Harry Potter Gameplay
The story in LEGO Harry Potter is simple. It’s a direct and quite successful translation from the 5th, 6th and 7th HP movies. Although being understandably less riveting than the movies themselves (mostly down to it being designed for a young-ish demographic and the complete lack of vocals), there is an upside to the story being diluted and spread out like it is. It leaves the designers to throw in a few well-timed jokes and to liven up the characters with comical animations, whilst not being too attached to the story that only Harry Potter addicts will be able to run along with it. Also, you don’t have to have played the first game to fully enjoy this one either.
The level design in LEGO Harry Potter is the most admirable part of the game. They consist of varying challenges, from saving random students in peril, to finding and giving people what they seek, to fixing broken objects scattered around the room, to triggering structural and decorative changes (such as lifting and dropping a flag, pushing a wall in and moving torches around). Almost everything gives you a respectable amount of LEGO studs and these go towards a main pot of studs for the level. One of the side-goals for each level is collecting enough studs to fill a golden bar situated at the top of the screen.
Of course, this isn’t the only thing bringing you back for more. There are character tokens (which unlock new playable characters), red bricks (which grant you with new spells and abilities) and gold bricks. With new, collectible characters you can access new areas in the story missions which means once again, the LEGO series packs a lot of replayability.
My one issue with LEGO Harry Potter is a simple one, and can be fixed with a wired controller. The way the controls are mapped out leaves your mouse completely redundant. While it’s not a glaring issue and will go away with time, awkwardly aiming your wand with the directional buttons is a little counter-intuitive at first. Especially when your gaze averts from the screen to your mouse, sat lonely and idly on your desk. A PS3 or Xbox controller will easily do away with this issue.
LEGO’s are blocky and square by nature, aren’t they? So surely a graphical style designed around it isn’t going to lead to a great looking game? But LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 looks incredible, plain and simple. The lighting is very effective and the water and fire look fantastic next to the textured ground. Not everything is lego, meaning the graphics hint realism, yet are true to their lego roots.
Everything from the graphics, to the story, to the level design, Feral Interactive has worked wonders with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7. The imperfections are small and pale in comparison to the success of everything else. The story is not too intrusive to make newcomers feel overwhelmed, and the hundreds of items to collect means this isn’t an adventure that’s going to end soon.
Price: $19.99 (£19.99)
Description: Harry Potter’s Blocky Adventure Continues
Pros: The level design is admirable, as is the graphical standard, Feral Interactive has far surpassed all of my preconceptions of a LEGO game.
Cons: Aiming your wand awkwardly with the directional buttons seems so unnecessary when your mouse is right next to you.