Brick-based magic and mayhem awaits.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 takes everything that is familiar from the previous Harry Potter game and magically levitates it to a whole new level. The smash and collect title delivers a more improved and stimulating experience.
The game is based on the final four films in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, parts one and two. One thing that never changes amongst the various LEGO games is that more or less everything can be smashed to smithereens, sometimes objects need to be built or reassembled and, of course, there is a huge supply of LEGO studs to collect. Alongside this, there are gold bricks to discover, characters from the movies to unlock, school emblems to find and a disturbing number of students in peril that need rescuing. And that’s all before even considering the story.
The game starts with Harry Potter swaying back and forth on a swing, being teased by Dudley and his team of friends. Harry’s first objective is to escape the playground using his wand to cast a spell. The playground is an enjoyable starting point of the game, as the rain pours down with the odd rumble of thunder in the background. It is filled with distractions, such as swings, slides and roundabouts.
Players can switch characters by simply pressing Y, and holding down the B button enables you to lift objects. Some of the characters have the ability to use pets in the glowing paw-print areas and only some of the stronger characters can use the orange handle bars in certain areas. Characters like Dumbledore can use apparition points, which enable him to warp to designated areas and later on in the game, Harry can use his special spectacles that give out a purple glow to see LEGO bricks, you couldn’t normally see without them.
After you’ve managed to reassemble a broken car and made your way through the park area, you will have your first encounter with the Dementors, who you need to fight off in order to rescue Dudley. A brief cut-scene shows Dudley back with his family, while Harry is having terrifying nightmares of his past and present life upstairs in the bedroom. The game then launches Harry and Mad-eye Moody into the darkness of the skies on the back of their broomsticks around the city of London. You’ll whizz past ships in the night and the lit up London Eye, which is portrayed as a giant Ferris wheel here, before crashing back down to earth in the dimly lit backstreets of Grimmauld Place. Eventually you’ll meet the Weasley family before being transported in a bright red telephone box to the floo network fireplace, where you can travel to different locations by simply pressing B inside the green filled fireplaces.
Once you’ve traveled through the floo network, you’ll discover a masterpiece of LEGO creativity. A visually stunning environment in which a giant LEGO man stands in the background, along with a fountain and huge number of wandering wizards, all going about their daily business whilst trying to avoid the paper aeroplanes that are swiftly moving around in the air.
Back at Diagon Alley, the player can explore secret backstreets filled with wonderful things to discover, such as Ollivanders Wand shop where you can purchase gold bricks. You can also find the Leaky Cauldron, which is the central hub of the game, and before you know it you’ll be exploring the grounds of Hogwarts being gently guided by a ghoul and a trail of transparent blue studs to show you where the next storyline starts.
The moment you start the game, you will find yourself completely immersed in the magical world of Harry Potter. The LEGO games have a way of drawing you into their distinctive world and quite cleverly playing with your mind. Collecting LEGO studs has always been addictive and smashing all the environment up into tiny pieces of LEGO, only to have to reassemble it again, has become the familiar and enjoyable objective of these games. After all, you don’t know what you will miss if you leave a block of LEGO undisturbed. Hidden within it could be a gold brick, or a precious Harry Potter character to unlock. The core mechanics remain solid and consistent throughout the game.
As a wizard, you’ll have to get used to a selection of spells, each of which will need to be used in different areas, and you will have your first experience of dueling. When triggered, you’ll find yourself inside a dueling circle against a variety of characters with a number of spells to cast against them. The outline of the circle is firm indication of which spell is needed to defeat the enemy and you’ll have a few of these dueling encounters through the game. While most of the game involves smashing LEGO left, right and centre, there are a small collection of puzzles to be solved, but they are all relatively easy and shouldn’t prove too much of a problem to experienced LEGO gamers. Combat has taken a backseat in this sequel with far fewer enemies and very little threat being posed to Harry Potter and his pals. The charming and comedic cutscenes return and still have me in fits of giggles as soon as I see a LEGO character in a funny predicament.
Overall LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is a mixture of some good solid gameplay with a decent replay factor to draw you back in again. The drop-in co-op mode allows you to team up with a friend whenever you choose, doubling the LEGO craziness, and there are enough collectibles to fuel your LEGO stud addiction. The game looks greatly improved with very polished graphics and some improved camera angles, enabling you to feel a 360 degree effect whilst wandering around environments.
If you’ve played LEGO games before, then add this one to your collection to complete the Harry Potter saga and enjoy some more LEGO goodness. It is a perfect wizarding treat…