LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 Review
Published by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Developed by Traveller’s Tales
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Oh Harry…it sucks to grow up, doesn’t it? The innocent days of the first four books/movies that the original Harry Potter: Years 1-4 game covered are long over but not forgotten. In this game a new year has started but not with the rose-tinted glasses he may have worn in his “youth.” Things look grim and it’s up to Harry, as well as his friends, to make things as right as they can.
I haven’t read the books yet but I have seen the last four movies that comprise the last three years and this game. Some artistic liberties are taken and if you’ve seen the movies, then you’ll spot them right away too. This may piss some people off but it in no way changes the gameplay or the storyline in the game itself. In fact, it’s not even necessary for you to have seen the movies in order to enjoy the game.
In true Lego fashion you go around and you smash everything you can. It is through smashing or smashing and rebuilding that you go through each segment/chapter/year while learning spells, collecting school emblems, characters, gold bricks, red bricks, and the status of “True Wizard.” The wisest advice I can give you? Smash and break EVERYTHING. You never know where a “student in peril” may be stuck/hidden/in trouble, or where one of the aforementioned parts may be waiting for discovery.
As you go through the game you’ll learn each of the main characters have their own little “specialties” that make them unique as playable figures and vital to making it to the end. Harry can learn “focus,” Hermione has her endless/bottomless purse, cat, and the ability to do wall puzzles at her disposal, and Ron is able to open up the newest addition to the Lego Harry Potter World; Weasley boxes. Don’t get me wrong, others can open them up too *wink wink.* There are 200 characters to collect in all, so you’ll be hunting for a while in free play mode since the game requires you to play through story mode before you can release some of the Lego Character faces you’ll run into.
Diagon Alley serves are the hub for this game as it did in the previous game. Here you’ll see several shops but you are only allowed to go into a couple of them. Weasley’s storefront is one of them and it’s a true testament to the Weasley name; bright, fun, and full of jokes. In the other stores you’ll be able to enter cheat codes, buy the “red brick” abilities you found, buy characters, and jump to previously played through chapters, etc.
One of the new additions to the Lego Harry Potter world are the duels that you will encounter throughout the game. An “evil” wizard will entice you into a ring and you’ll have to match their spells 4 times in a row without getting beaten in order to win. Eliminate their 4 hearts before they do yours and you’ll continue on with the chapter. If you don’t, then you’ll have try try again.
Even though these are dark and gloomy days for Harry and his friends, there is humor thrown into the game that lightens it up. The cutscenes before and after you’ve completed a chapter are entertaining to watch (and “skippable” once you’ve gone through/completed it in story mode). The Lego characters don’t speak but what’s going on around them is done so well that you can almost interpret their vocal non-words in conversations. You’ll see several of these scenes as you make your way through the storyline and it adds to the charm of this game.
The graphics are well detailed and were modeled after the movies very well. The cutscenes fill in some of the blanks between chapters, and the flashbacks done in Sepia coloring are a nice touch. It was great to see a contrast between the “real” world and a flash back/”dream” sequence. One of these Sepia-toned worlds that I enjoyed was the 2-D recreation of the 3 brothers’ scene from the movie where they each try to cheat death in their own way. This was a great level that I enjoyed playing through and the graphics helped tell the tale.
The audio was familiar as well. If you’re a fan of the films you’ll recognize the music from the last four movies as it pulses through your veins. Otherwise the other “usual” Lego noises are there; stuff breaking, spells being cast, your partner’s reaction when you hit them on accident (or on purpose) with a spell. I don’t usually like the sound up when playing games because the audio gets on my nerves or gets repetitive but Harry Potter: Years 5-7 wasn’t like that. When my son asked me to turn it up, I didn’t mind doing so.
The controls are similar to all the other Lego games and a quick run through of button mashing will get you familiar with them. The spells are easy to cast and cycling through them is a breeze. My 5 year old son had no issues using the controller, casting spells, or switching characters so we have no complaints.
This game isn’t without its setbacks though. The biggest one, in my book, is the loading screens. There are so many of them and they are so blasted long. I do have to give them props, though, for at least giving each “year” its own load screen so you weren’t looking at the same one throughout the game. There were a couple of glitches where characters got stuck behind objects, jumps weren’t as easy as they should have been, and you were reminded of life before split multi-player screens.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is a lot of fun to play. We are having a lot more fun with this game than we did with the original Harry Potter: Years 1-4. There is a lot of replay value to this game and the drive to collect all the characters, all the school emblems, and the red/gold bricks will have you coming back for more. Fans of the Harry Potter series or fans of the Lego genre will have an engaging fun time with this game.