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Aug 18

Game Review: Lego Harry Potter

I defy any adult who says the Lego games are no fun! Sure they are essentially made for kids but dang-gummit they are platforming excellence! And multiplayer to boot. Even Mario has only done simultaneous multiplayer ONCE, Lego has been doing it since day dot! And there are so many themes of Lego games. Lego Star Wars was brilliant, Lego Indiana Jones was cool (especially the 2nd one) , hell even Lego Batman had it’s moments. So when the makers, TT Games revealed their next title was based on Harry Potter, everyone got excited.

Now, let me point out, first of all, I am no Harry Potter fan. I only saw 3 of the movies and don’t even remember them that well. Fantasy has never really been my cup of tea. On an upside, it means I am looking at this game objectively and not being swayed by the whole HP theme since I know very little indeed.

Like all Lego games, Harry Potter is a platform game with semi-fixed camera angles. The controls are so simple that 1st time gamers can get desired responses with ease. Everything in the world is given a simplistic, and very comical, Lego look. But let’s be honest, this is nothing new to the Lego series.

In this one, there really isn’t anything new. And thank god for that! Adding another cook would’ve ruined this pudding. The game’s brilliance is in it’s simplicity. Think about the original Donkey Kong and Mario games. Not a lot going on really. Run from side to side, jump, fight a baddie or two, grab the collectables and keep going level for level. It’s a tried and tested formula and it doesn’t need any tweaking. This is why Lego Batman and the 1st Lego Indiana weren’t received so well. They tried to change up the base ingredients. Batman became battle heavy and Indy was exploration insane (leading to the title character not getting much use in the first level of gameplay). Harry Potter is just the right amount of both.

Lego Harry Potter is utterly gorgeous, which shouldn’t make sense considering everything is “Lego-ized” but when you see this game in motion, you’ll understand. Each character’s model has been given an upgrade from the old polygon count and even though I’m a complete Harry Potter novice, I could tell who was supposed to be who. Also, the grounds of the school, Hogwarts, is huge and completely explorable. Dorm rooms, toilets, halls, libraries and classrooms are all accessible but some require certain abilities obtained in later levels. These potion mixes and magic spells are all taught by teachers in classrooms and can then be used in the outside world. So totally different to my year 7 trigonometry and calculus! And not just Hogwarts is here, there’s the street market from the first movie which has all these shops that you can use your collected Lego bits to purchase characters, clothes, cheats and even bonus levels. The main staircase from the movies is also present and done phenomenally well with moving paintings and various directions you can take. It all brings a smile to your face when you realise this game was made with 20% more love than any other game you may have played.

The size of the playing field would be unbelievably daunting if it wasn’t for your friendly schoolboy ghost guide. He drops little see-through lego coins for you to follow to your current destination. So even if you decide to side-track and blow stuff up for kicks, you’ll still know which way to go. And getting side tracked is amazingly fun. The amount of interactive set pieces in Hogwarts is mind boggling. Just run up to any random object, if it can’t be picked up and chucked around or assembled with other bits in some way, you can most likely attack it. I think this is where Harry Potter has the edge on Batman and Indy. The magic abilities mirror the force from the star wars game and also means that you don’t have to be right next to your target to manipulate it.

The sum is equal to its parts which means a few good things and one downfall. The pro’s being that you can play for a short 20 minute stint or a few hours of a hard slog and you will feel just as entertained. There’s a lot of levels and heaps of extras to find and even with the co-operative 2 player option, there’s enough content to keep you going for months on end. The light hearted, but still respectful approach to the Harry Potter material will please fans and entertain newbies alike. It’s downfall is that it can become forgotten quite easily. Because most of us have gone through a Lego game or two in our time, the samey-ness will make it collect a bit of dust. But it is a title you’ll eventually go back to quite happily and you’ll wonder why you didn’t spend more time with it last time. And then, the same thing will happen again 2 months later.