Ignore the messy Harry Potter titles that EA have been squeezing out over the last few years. If you’re after a game that will please Harry Potter fans, look no further than this Lego-flavoured compilation spanning the last four films.
For the most part, you’ll control the familiar trio, with other characters popping up occasionally. Harry has his cloak, Hermione unlocks swot boxes and Ron can access his brother’s Wesley boxes for destructive fireworks or wall-climbing shoes. As is standard with the Lego games, you can play local multiplayer. The screen will split when it feels it is appropriate. We found it to be a nightmare though. Splitting when it didn’t need to and giving one player loads of space and the other a corner. The divide also made a nasty habit of dizzyingly spinning around.
Don’t expect any major gameplay revolutions. Use the square button to items and then look for a purple aura indicating you can hold down the circle button to rebuild them into something new. Or maybe levitate an object like a giant pair of shears to cut through undergrowth in the forest, or attach wheels to a broken cart. It’s very repetitive but curiously hard to put down. Sometimes, when looking for items by zapping away, they may only appear after you’ve left the room, come back and then zapped the same container several more times. With hundreds of objects lying around, this can be infuriating.
Decent varieties of spells are unlocked over the course of the game, with many of them needed to crack certain items. Along with increasingly powerful blast spells, you have a new water spell for putting out fires and watering plants. Another spell can be used to carve out shapes from red walls too. Anyone with a pet can send them scurrying up pipes or have them dig for items. Except for Neville ‘takes on Voldemort in a cardigan’ Longbottom who uses a spade.
The coin currency is thrown at you constantly. Beating enemies, lighting a wall-torch, shaking a tree, any sort of interaction rewards you in studs, which can then be used to purchase unlockables. Extra characters, students in peril, Hogwarts crests and gold bricks are amongst the other collectibles that will have you combing and blasting every inch of the schools, forests, London and Diagon Alley. There are also bonus red bricks that will give you permanent stud multipliers, digging boosts and so on.
Harry and pals are quite the bunch of vandals, breaking everything in sight. Even Dumbledore helps you smash up a small village. I feared the worst when entering a graveyard, thankfully Harry and Hermione were content with fixing flowers and clearing snow from headstones. Then they went back to smashing up people’s houses.
Combat is barely used until the end of the game. Standard enemies like Death Eaters or spiders can be dealt with via wand blasts of almost any spell. Aiming from the hip is the best option, as you can’t move while using the lock-on. It’s not a great system, but looking at the general lack of combat and your infinite respawns, it’s not a major issue.
The duelling fares much better. These personal battles pit you in a circle of combat and you have to match your colour coded spells to your opponent’s, and then endure a bit of button-bashing tug of war. It’s more cinematic than the minion beatings and shouldn’t be too hard for younger gamers.
More than most Lego games, this struggles to tell the story well. Using murmurings instead of dialogue may be cute, but unless you’ve watched the films recently, you’ll have no idea what’s going on. The series’ refusal to use dialogue has really held them back from reaching out to anyone that isn’t a hardcore fan. On the plus side, they’ve nailed the nasal murmurings of Snape perfectly and when you see the villains wearing party hats after the death of an important character, there’s no denying it can be very funny in parts.
Once you finally get out of Hogwarts, you start to see some of the immense graphical detail. Like the rock and swelling sea around the cave where you find a Horcrux, the sunny forests or the underground vaults of Gringrots. A 2D section based on the Three Brothers part of Deathly Hallows, is a stunning visual departure too with its pop-up tapestry vibe. It’s a cut above most tie-ins, especially ones aimed at a younger audience.
To get the most out of this, you’ll have to be a huge Harry Potter fan, or have an addiction to rooting out collectibles and gathering thousands of shiny coins. It’s very samey and repetitive, but the easy-going nature tries to focus on having fun exploring. After 15 hours, I completed the story and still had 50% of items still to find. Not many games offer similar value for money.
- Value for money
- Fans will enjoy the references and familiar locations
- Collecting everything is addictive
- Splitscreen is disappointing
- Bash square button, hold circle button, repeat
- Very little challenge