Lego Harry Potters Years 1-4 follows “the one who survived” across the expanse of the first four movies. This game is the definite Harry Potter experience to come to the mystical world of video games. While previous Harry Potter games have been released to coincide with the release of each movie, Traveler’s Tales as encapsulated the universe of Harry Potter like no other game has.
The process of reading through the books was always filled with wonder and excitement over what was to come. The game captures this spirit of discovery by placing objects throughout the levels that require specific magic spells that have not been learned yet. While all Lego games have some form of “locked” areas that can only be accessed through replay with a character than is unlocked later, it feels different with this title. Acquiring and learning the specific spell for Harry to use is a more organic and educational process rather than unlocking a character at a later stage in the game. Granted both methods are similar, but the waiting to acquire spells is a much better fit for this Lego game than unlocking powered characters.
For those fans that do enjoy unlocking characters do not fear, there are plenty of things to unlock in Lego Harry Potter, including over 160 characters. The characters are unlocked and available for purchase by finding their icons scattered throughout the game’s levels. They may be floating in one place and easily attainable or hidden requiring an advanced spell or puzzle solving to get to. Character icons aren’t the only things scattered in each level. The classic red bricks make a return in addition to the new students in peril. Following Harry’s adventures the player will come across students who are in dire situations and need help. Rescuing all the students work towards completing the game to 100% as well as a nice achievement.
Traveler’s Tales has successfully recreated the famous environments of the Harry Potter universe, from Hogsmeade to the Leaky Cauldron, and most importantly the school for witch craft and wizardry, Hogwarts. All of the essential characterizations of these locations have been captured, specifically Hogwarts where a lot of the game takes place. The detailed environments are among the highlights of Lego Harry Potter.
Minus the addition of the spell system, the game controls much like previous Lego games. They are simple to pick up and players should be comfortable with them within a few minutes of play. There are only a few vehicle segments in the game that involve driving and riding a broomstick. These portions of the game are by no means a strong point but they also do not detracted from the overall experience.
The companion characters A.I are largely unchanged from previous games. They basically just follow you around until you need get to a part requiring two people working together. There were parts of the game where I was left hanging by the A.I, waiting for them to do their part which they ultimately never did. Thankfully this only happened a few times and made me appreciate having a co-op partner more.
Lego Harry Potter does not support online co-op but does have local co-op. Apparently many people didn’t use the online co-op feature of past Lego games which is understandable because an additional player’s skill does not really change the game experience whatsoever. The local co-op mode has again benefited from the split screen feature implemented in Lego Indiana Jones 2. Previously two players would share the screen and whenever they decided to move in opposite directions, it would result in the camera being pulled in both directions. Now whenever players decide to part, the screen splits diagonally following each player. This system isn’t perfect and is a little confusing at times but is much better than yelling at your girlfriend to follow you instead of going after the Lego studs in the corner.
The only part of Lego Harry Potter that I found lacking is the Lego level creator. I constantly find myself wondering why this mode was even created. Sure building my own Lego levels and then playing through them is interesting but couldn’t I just do that with regular Lego? Maybe Traveler’s Tales assumed I wouldn’t still own Lego but wouldn’t the kids who this game is targeted at still play with Lego? I would find the level builder justifiable if they allowed people to upload and share their creations online. Instead you could spend hours building an awesome virtual Lego world only to have it sit on your Xbox and never see the light of day unless you showed it to a friend in your living room.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is a worthy additional into the Lego games franchise as well as a decent reinterpretation of the Harry Potter movies. I would suggest any fan of Harry Potter to play this game because Traveler’s Tale took great care to create an authentic experience that is highly enjoyable. There is tons of replay value to be had replaying each level to try to raise your score and find every collectible to reach the 100% achievement.
This review is based on a retail copy of the 360 version of Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4.