|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|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Andrew Groen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As with just about every other aspect of this game, there's a problem with this. Unlike the console versions, casting spells in the PSP version is done contextually. Basically, someone will tell you to cast a spell on an object, then that object will glow obviously. You then go over, press X, and stuff happens. That's about it. It's at times insultingly simple. One could say that the gameplay should be simple for children, but the PSP's player base somewhat contradicts that thought.
And of course, this wouldn't be a LEGO game if it didn't involve the series trademark cornerstone of collecting LEGO bits. However, in this version even that small bit is changed. Unlike previous games in the series you don't smash environmental objects and then collect the pieces. Rather the pieces are strewn about like Pac-Man pellets, and you run around gobbling them up. Even in this small regard, the game seems dumbed down. One would imagine that after several installments, this little component would have gotten awfully repetitive and droll by now, but somehow that's actually not the case. It's still as addictive as ever to endlessly snatch up those tiny bolts ala Ratchet and Clank. You could spend a considerable amount of time just doing that and not even playing the actual game, and you'd still have a relatively good time.
The graphics do not live up to the promises of the console versions. Previous games have had wonderful worlds built entirely out of LEGOs that were a joy to explore. By contrast, many of the PSP version's levels don't look like they're made out of LEGOs at all, but rather contain a few blocks in a normal room. Also, the camera is unlike any of the console versions. It's an isometric view that can't be changed. If something you need to see is behind a wall, sometimes you'll simply be unable to see it.
The game's audio is one of the game's - and the LEGO series' - great strengths. The lack of voices for all of the characters is a brilliant storytelling choice, and the soundtrack is amazing, as we've come to expect from all licensed Harry Potter products.
The controls are optimized to the game and the game's audience. The LEGO titles aren't intended to be exclusively for children, so they have to be complex enough to engage an adult and simple enough to appeal to a child. The controls accomplish this goal. This isn't a press 'x' to win type of game, but there are only a few essential buttons. Most of the complex motions are accomplished via on screen gestures.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is a bit of a baffling game. I think few people expected the beloved LEGO franchise to falter on a major platform. The assumption is usually that the PSP will receive a dumbed-down version of the console game. However, rumor has it that with no PS2 version to port to the PSP, Traveller's Tales used the Nintendo DS version as the basis for the PSP game, resulting in a game that is far too small for the PSP. Owners of this system have come to expect far more from their systems than this.
CCC Freelance Writer