|System: PS3, PC, X360, Wii, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 29, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When the LEGO series burst onto the scene with LEGO Star Wars in 2005, it was an instant hit. The game's simple controls, fun humor, and family-friendly gameplay made it a classic among players and assured it a spot in the upper echelon of licensed games. However, as the LEGO series started branching out and extending its trademark influence across other properties, it seemed as if some of the spark had faded. The LEGO Indiana Jones games in particular were criticized for having numerous glitches and having a general lack of polish.
When I started playing LEGO: Harry Potter, I had some serious concerns. However, it looks like Traveler's Tales has gotten back to doing what they do best with LEGO Harry Potter, and the love that they put into this title definitely shows.
Right from the moment you start the game, the affection the developers have for the series as a whole is apparent. The opening cutscene features a mish-mash of humorous takes on the opening scenes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone mixed with a few nods to both the fans of the books as well as previous LEGO games. I won't spoil anything here, but it must be said that the cutscenes in LEGO Harry Potter are definitely on par with the best of the cutscenes from the LEGO: Star Wars series.
The cutscenes definitely continue the series' trademark humor, and the gameplay follows suit by providing users with more of the same puzzle-platform style of gameplay that has been featured in previous LEGO titles. Although this sounds a little disparaging, it's actually quite a boon for the game in this instance. The LEGO fanbase is one that must have some repetitious elements, especially when you consider that many of the players are quite young. Having a repetitious format may become tiresome in a game series designed for adults, but with a franchise with fans with single-digit ages, being able to hop right in and know what to do is key for success.
That's not to say, however, that there are no new elements in LEGO Harry Potter. Although games like LEGO Star Wars feature broad-based powers like the force that can be used to grab and interact with items, LEGO Harry Potter gives users a whole new element to play with: spells. Instead of a single action you can take with items in game, LEGO Harry Potter features more than ten special abilities that you can use to achieve various effects in the game. These spells can be easily cycled through using the shoulder button, and add a new puzzle element to the game.
Although there are quite a few spells (including the always-funny Ridikkulus spell), the one you are most likely to use in 90% of situations is Wingardium Leviosa. This levitation spell is the first spell you learn and will be used to move objects around and interact with switches. The Lumos spell is also used quite a bit, along with various graduated intervals of attack-style spells including Expecto Patronus and Incendio.
And speaking of combat, there is a fair bit of magic-based fighting in LEGO Harry Potter. This is a change of pace from previous LEGO games, but it sits nicely with the overall tone of the game. The Harry Potter series of movies and books has always been well-known for its magical creatures and (at least in the beginning) fantastical battle sequences. Although boss battles generally do contain some amount of puzzling, you will be able to fire off magical spells from your wand fairly easily to overpower your opponent.