LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
I remember that my mother, in an attempt to make me spend less time with my PS2, gave me the Harry Potter book series. Partially that had its effect – all seven books were read in no time – but the decrease in gaming didn’t happen. Now, a couple of years later, I just combine both things, a perfect compromise! But does this game hold up to the reputation of the incredibly good books?
Harry Potter, the boy who lived… and then was put up in LEGO blocks. In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 the last three years of the wizard apprentice are central. The books and movies change to a dark and grimm setting, evolving Harry from an innocent kid to a true defender of all that’s good who will take on He-who-shouldn’t-be-named in the inevitable finale. The game doesn’t change that but adds a ton of humour to the story and although we’re in a world where nobody can speak, that doesn’t seem to be a handicap as the non-verbal jokes will often put a smile on your face.
It all looks a but clumsy at times, the entire LEGO Harry Potter-world. The seriousness that arrives in the rest of the franchise gets chopped down in the LEGO version without making the entire world of Hogwarths look ridiculous. Through short and rather linear missions you play thinned down version of the Order of the Phoenix, the Half-Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows while in the meantime you get to break down the surroundings to get as many collectibles as possible. The LEGO-”rings”, called “studs”, form a sort of score system in the game and if you get enough of them in each level you get rewarded with the title of True Wizard. Never knew you needed to collect rings to become a wizard, but at least I now know how to get admitted to Hogwarths. The game also has a ton of puzzles but they quickly become repetitive and are extremely easy.
While playing levels you often see areas or collectables you can’t reach because you don’t know a certain spell yet or your team members don’t have the necessary skill. Usually you’re hanging around with two or three different characters but the difference between their properties is rather thin so you’ll have to wait until you’ve unlocked others that do have something special in their arsenal. As you can unlock a ton of characters and each level afterwards becomes available in a “Free Play” mode the replayability is quite high, something we can only applaud. It also makes that you constantly get new challenges as the story itself is quite limited and those who only focus on defeating Voldemort as fast as possible will find at the end that they haven’t even cleared half of the game.
As mentioned before you’re usually not lurking around alone. Mostly you’re with the traditional trio but also Sirius, Hagrid and even Sneep from time to time come under your control. Next to the fact that each of these characters has something special to offer this also makes co-op an obvious option. Together with a friend you can play the entire story again, something that makes up for the lacking of online multiplayer.
Like a true wizard you’ll sometimes have to duel. The system here is simple: there’s a circle around you and your opponent and behind your opponent there’s a color that matches one of your spells. Select that spell, fire it upon him fast enough, and you’ll do some damage. If you and your enemy fire at the same time a game of button bashing starts to see who’s the most powerful. After about four times you’ll come out victorious, no doubt thanks to your sublime knowledge of wizardry.
Traveller’s Tales and Warner Brothers made with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 a comedy-filled version of what’s seen as one of the most succesful book series of the last century. Through (sometimes way too easy) puzzles and missions you go through the entire story again but with yellow men on the screen and a smile on your face. Especially interesting for those who already read the books or saw the movies as then you’ll notice all the funny inside jokes and truly understand the story. In the end highly entertaining for all though.