LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Review

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LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

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A familiarly addictive and brilliant LEGO game set in an impressively realized Potter Universe

We like

  • Brilliant cut-scenes, humour and set-pieces
  • How addictive it is collecting things, a lot of things!
  • Robust co-op play

We dislike

  • AI mates are not always on the ball
  • Randomness often wins the day over logic

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

We were given a great tip the other day. Wrap all of your old, discolored LEGO bricks up in a pillowcase, make sure you tie a knot in it and then whack it all in the washing machine. Sit tight for 10 minutes, take it out and your grubby LEGO bits will be as good as new! Despite our age, LEGO still hasn't lost its appeal over the years and we still think that sitting in your bedroom with a pile of LEGO trying to recreate the likes of The Millennium Falcon is infinitely more fun and rewarding than playing a video game based on the insanely popular brick building game.

Nevertheless, you’ve got to hand it to Traveler’s Tales. The British Software House has taken a franchise that really shouldn’t have worked as a video game and has paired it with some of the most legendary big screen franchises. With a touch of creativity and sense of humor it has done a stupendous job at producing games that are simple enough for children to enjoy yet still appeal to adults and that big kid inside us all.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is yet another fine example of the work that Traveller's Tales has done with the LEGO series of games. Though it uses the same blueprint as the last couple of titles (this is essentially just more of the same brick-smashing antics) it shows a great understanding of the subject matter to deliver a game that still crackles with that creative spark and makes you warm to it with its tongue-in-cheek humor.

Each of the main events from the first four books are featured in the story campaign. From the fight against the troll in the bathroom in The Philosopher’s (Sorcerer's) Stone to the TriWizard Tournament in Goblet Of Fire, all are playable set-pieces. In between bouts of Potter's heroic antics, you’ll largely be smashing objects made of LEGO to collect studs to spend on spells and tokens, brewing various potions and searching around Hogwarts and the surrounding areas as you build objects, solve environment-based puzzles and search for well-hidden collectibles on your way to, hopefully, defeating “You Know Who.”

The main hub this time around is Diagon Alley, which has numerous familiar places to visit that add some extra replay value to the main storyline. Here you can unlock Character Tokens and pimp them with a nifty little customization tool, or you can access the LEGO builder in Gringott’s Bank and play bonus areas with Gold the bricks that you collect. Or you can simply access Free Roam mode and play through unlocked levels at your own pace, or purchase new spells with your hard-earned studs.

Following the main storyline, you travel around Hogwarts and surrounding areas such as Hogsmeade smashing up bricks with your range of magical spells that have been learned during lessons, taught by the likes of Snape and LockHart, or purchased from Wiseacre's Wizarding equipment in Diagon Alley. You'll be making and guzzling potions such as PolyJuice that allows you to go in disguise as another character, or using your invisibility cloak to slip past prefects and access restricted sections where, predictably, you'll be smashing up more objects, working out how to get the next area by moving bricks around and creating objects with a swish of your wand and a yell of "Wingardium Leviosa."

If you've never watched any Harry Potter films or read any of J.K. Rowling's books the story will make little sense as the LEGO pieces don’t speak English and there's no subtitles to fill you in. Instead the LEGO characters mumble unintelligibly, but amusingly, given subtle hints as to their mood. Traveller's Tales has done a great job at capturing the individual character's personalities in the game through sound, well produced cut-scenes and a few funny moments in which the studio has taken themes from the film and used its own creativity to give a slightly different take on them.

The developer hasn't shunned on the amount of playable characters in the game either, cramming in approximately 167 in total, ranging from a goblin at Gringott’s to head honcho, Albus Dumbledore. Each character has specific strengths and weaknesses and often you'll find yourself in an area with three of four ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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