Review | Lego Harry Potter
Cloak and Wand…
Format: Xbox 360/PC/PS3/Nintendo DS/Wii/PSP | Genre: Action/Adventure | Publisher: Warner Bros. | Developer: Traveller’s Tales | Release date: 25/06/2010 | Price: £44.99
LEGO. HARRY Potter. Combining the two is what’s known in the business as a “sure thing”. Separately they’re both all-consuming global phenomena successful beyond the wildest dreams of any kinder-visionary. Together however, they could be a smash hit on a par with Daphne & Celeste. And, dare I say it, possibly even beyond D&C’s dizzy heights.
And, as the charts currently suggest, a “sure thing” it was. Sitting pretty at the top of the pile, Lego: Harry Potter demonstrates how Traveller’s Tales have managed to concoct a winning formula. In the last five years they’ve released no fewer than seven Lego tie-ins, each of which containing the signature simple gameplay that conceals the depth of the game.
Initially thought to be trivial, the Lego series of tie-ins have proved over and over to be highly entertaining and absorbing. Which, after all, is what gaming is about.
Do you believe in Magic?
When making anything aimed for a younger market, the trick is not to patronise. Children aren’t as dumb as you might think: countless TV programs meant for children have become resolute classics purely because they managed to entertain both young and old, bridging the barrier between child and adulthood.
Lego: Harry Potter does exactly this. It doesn’t punish you horrendously if your ability isn’t high enough, nor does it bore you utterly. There are plenty of areas to explore and things to collect ranging from the easily found stud-currency to pieces of the Hogwarts crest which can be a real challenge to find. Hogwarts being, of course, the school of wizardry that Harry Potter attends (did I really need to explain that? If so, good for you, that’s one hell of a rock you’ve been living under).
Simple presentation and simple gameplay are the order of the day here. The visuals aren’t meant to blow you away and there are no thumb-busting combos to learn either. It’s sweet in its simplicity, all that’s asked of the player is that they think every once in a while in order to solve a puzzle or two.
Which leaves you to enjoy the Lego-themed romp through the Harry Potter universe. In either single or co-op mode, we join Harry as he meanders loosely through the plots of the first four books, which is great if you know the books well. The Lego characters, while mute and voiceless, inject a little humour into the familiar situations and ensure that the whole experience feels fresh and unique.
If you don’t know the story well though, the cut-scenes will do little to explain what on earth is happening. Youngsters looking to experience Harry Potter will be easily distracted by the bright colours and excitable sounds and won’t mind the vagueness of the plot, but more mature users may find things a little confusing. Then again, it’s doubtful there would be many mature players gravitating towards this iteration of the Lego series if they hadn’t ventured into the Potter world at some point before.
Although there are hundreds of characters to unlock, the star of the show has to be the Hogwarts castle. Jammed full of things to interact with, players have to venture through its corridors on the way to the next class or mission. After solving a small puzzle in the classes, new spells are learnt which unlock areas both leading to the next mission and in previous missions. The gradual unlocking of abilities ensures that there’s plenty of replay potential of past levels for those who feel the need to utterly complete a game.
On top of the hundreds of characters, the twenty four levels and the giant Hogwarts hub map, a string of secret levels become available after collecting a certain number of golden bricks. These secret levels take place away from the story of Harry Potter in a more sandbox environment. Navigating mazes or working together to solve puzzles, once completed the levels can be completely ripped apart and rebuilt by the game’s level editor, allowing players to satisfy their creativity much in the same way as they can with real-life Lego.
Once again, Traveller’s Tales have built a game that appeals to gamers across generations. Possibly the best Harry Potter game to date, it has a wealth of content and replay-ability. Hardcore gamers may not find it to their taste as it is quite simple at heart, but it’s simple in a very lovable way.