|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|
Another tweak is the use of spells. Whenever you put together LEGO blocks, your character compels them into place magically, and as you progress, you unlock a whole collection of spells that you can use to access new areas and complete the games various objectives. The one youll use most often is called Wingardium Leviosa, which lifts objects up so you can put them elsewhere. (A lesson we learned: Never, in the presence of a devoted Harry Potter fan, refer to this power as The Force.) More innovative spells include a light that wards off snakes and ones that affect NPCs in various ways (such as changing the colors of their shirts and shrinking their heads). Unlike past installments, LEGO Harry Potter seems to revel in showing you places you cant reach yet, teasing the player in much the same way Zelda and Metroid games do.
Besides adding these new features, Travellers Tales did a good job of keeping the best aspects it introduced in the past. The split-screen drop-in/drop-out co-op is back -- once again, the two-player action takes place on a single screen until you drift too far apart, at which point the screen divides into two. This feature allows you to roam without making you play on two screens all the time. Also, the developers wisely decided to kill off online co-op; theyve mentioned in interviews that no one really used it anyway. This is the kind of game thats most fun to play with someone else in the room.
And in countless small ways, the developers honed the basics. The A.I. here is still far from perfect, but when youre playing by yourself, youll find that your computer-controlled companions are a bit less irritating than they used to be. When a puzzle requires different characters to do different things, you can normally just do one and rely on a partner to handle the other. The controls are still solid, especially with the added challenge of spells (you can scroll through them, or select them from a wheel Bioshock-style). Piloting a broomstick feels awkward at first, and targeting your spells doesnt work as well as it should, however.
Of course, if LEGO games irked you before, this installment wont do much to change your mind. The experience still lacks any challenge whatsoever, except for the occasional times when you cant figure out what the game wants you to do next. (Thankfully, these arent as common as they have been in the past: If youre not sure where to go, a ghost named Nearly Headless Nick will lead you to the next objective with a trail of studs.) The puzzles still require nothing more than the absolute basics: stand here, do that, find this item, flip that switch. Once again, the developers included a level creator with no online sharing feature. If the Harry Potter universe, presented through the undeniable cuteness of LEGO figures, doesnt captivate you in and of itself, you will tire of this game quickly.
But LEGO games arent made with those people in mind. This is a game for Harry Potter fans, and for fans of the previous LEGO games. If you fall into one or both of those camps, LEGO Harry Potter hits the nail on the head, providing gameplay tweaked to fit the material, hilarious cutscenes, and all the fan service even the most dedicated Muggle could want. With LEGO Harry Potter, Travellers Tales gives the faithful exactly what they want. Nothing more, nothing less.
CCC Freelance Writer