|System: 3DS, DS, PC, PS3, PSP, Vita, Wii, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Release: November 11, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief|
Duels, on the other hand, are good fun later in the game, since they actually demand some strategy with the shielding system and quick spell selection under a time limit. Just enough pressure to feel good when you win, not so much to be frustrating.
Not like some of the boss battles. Most boss battles follow a regular formula. Catch object with magic, throw it back, maybe fire a spell or have a quick duel. Others, though, try to mix things up. One, in particular, requires you to build an object to beat the boss. Building it requires three steps, but the boss chases you with a tornado that immediately destroys the device if it's complete. It must then be rebuilt from scratch. The set pieces, too, are often visually exciting, but ultimately boring. There are a couple of exceptions, such as stomping about on the back of a dragon and defending Dumbledore from a horde of creeping, ghoulish things, but so many are just rails sequences with shoddy control and zero challenge.
There are also some things that I'm ambivalent toward. For one, while the whimsy of LEGO is an incredibly good fit for the Potter universe, the parts of the story that this game covers are those where the books really started to get dark. The game largely does well with this, telling the story in its own way with added humor and LEGO-isms, but there are some baffling decisions surrounding the deaths of some major characters. Rather than glossing over them or treating them with decorum… Well, let's just say that one particularly sad event involves the villains in party hats immediately after, and the poor corpse stuck head-first in the ground, feet sticking up. Seriously, a dead house elf gets more respect from the developers.
Then we have the world. It's not really a LEGO world; most of the environments appear to have been ripped directly from the movies, with mini-figs and LEGO objects occupying them. This generally isn't jarring, but I sometimes caught myself thinking I'd like to see the world itself use more LEGOs in its construction. Between this and some of the humorous touches that pepper the game, I got the distinct impression that these aren't so much LEGO versions of the Harry Potter cast as they are LEGO mini-figs putting on a performance, a retelling of the movies in their own, abbreviated fashion with their own, satirical interpretation.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is a game that almost makes me wish I had kids, not so that I could pawn it off on them, but because I imagine it's much more fun to play with a partner who will be entirely enamored with the aesthetic and won't be so turned off by the less engaging gameplay elements. There's certainly plenty to do, with 200 gold bricks to collect, a couple dozen bonus spells to unlock, cheats to purchase, the ability to free play levels one has already completed, and countless characters to collect, many with unique abilities. The game's pacing, though, is completely out of whack and makes trudging through the first parts of the game a trying experience at best. Funny, that's how I felt about the fifth book, too.
CCC Contributing Writer