LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC | Wii | PSP | DS
LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 box art
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 game’s various objectives. The one you’ll 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 can’t reach yet, teasing the player in much the same way Zelda and Metroid games do.

LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot

Besides adding these new features, Traveller’s 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; they’ve mentioned in interviews that no one really used it anyway. This is the kind of game that’s 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 you’re playing by yourself, you’ll 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 doesn’t work as well as it should, however.

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Of course, if LEGO games irked you before, this installment won’t do much to change your mind. The experience still lacks any challenge whatsoever, except for the occasional times when you can’t figure out what the game wants you to do next. (Thankfully, these aren’t as common as they have been in the past: If you’re 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, doesn’t captivate you in and of itself, you will tire of this game quickly.

But LEGO games aren’t 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, Traveller’s Tales gives the faithful exactly what they want. Nothing more, nothing less.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.3
Graphics
They’re about all you can expect from the Wii, with a colorful world populated by adorable characters.
3.9
Control
The controls are handled very well, especially the new spells, which you can scroll through or select on a Bioshock-style wheel.
4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The John Williams soundtrack from the movies, plus the sound effect of LEGOs clinking around.
4.5

Play Value
It won’t change anyone’s mind about LEGO games, but it’s a great entry in the series with lots of unlockables.

4.3
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 transports players to iconic environments from the Harry Potter books and films and introduces a fun, new way of experiencing the magic of Harry Potter through hilarious cutscenes and new to LEGO gameplay elements such as magical building and spell-casting.
  • Experience the wonder of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: attend lessons, interact with the professors, mix potions, fly on broomsticks, and complete tasks to collect LEGO studs.
  • Players have the freedom to select from over 100 playable characters including Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, as well as many other fan favorites.
  • Explore iconic settings from the wizarding world including Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest, the village of Hogsmeade, and, of course, Hogwarts castle. LEGO Hogwarts is a grand, immersive 3-D environment and the largest, most detailed LEGO game location ever built for everyone to explore and enjoy.
  • LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 is family friendly gaming at its best. Conjure up fun with a friend and play through Harry’s first four years at Hogwarts as a team with easy drop-in/drop-out co-op play.


  • Screenshots / Images
    LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot - click to enlarge

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