Few other modern characters have united fans both young and old like Harry Potter. The boy-wizard stars in a series of books turned movies, he has amusement park rides dedicated to his adventures, and he even has a host of videogames to retell the entire saga. Yet, despite marketing to kids, Harry Potter is equally as appealing to adults. That’s not exactly the case for the LEGO adaptation of the last three years of his story. Unfortunately LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is merely an adequate game and its recent PlayStation Vita version simply doesn’t do Sony’s new handheld device justice. Still, for Potter fans, especially those obsessed with collectibles, this is a game you’ll want to pick up. For everyone else, this is a missed opportunity.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is a cute game, but even its cuteness grows thin. Take the simple voiceless acting of the Lego versions of the cast—they are adorable, but the developer focused far too much on puzzles and mini-games that it ends up playing as a chore and all that cuteness from the character models blends together into one dull who-am-I-playing-as-again scenario. Again, for Harry Potter fans, it’s something special to see your favorite characters in Lego form—and, yes, I am a Potter fan—so the game accomplishes something special on a basic level.
From a strictly gaming perspective, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 has some of the weakest graphics on the PS Vita. It’s a shame, really, as the cutscenes—the only part of the game that actually tells the story—are just bad. They are blurry and look washed. Fortunately the audio is fine during these sequences, and fans will again appreciate the soundtrack, which is taken from the movie adaptations of the books.
The gameplay is practically identical to the console versions, but the PSVita version does take advantage of touchscreen controls. The problem here is that they are used as a novelty and aren’t integrated all that well. You can tap the screen to cast spells, swirl your finger on the screen to charge spells, and tap question marks for clues. That’s pretty much it. It’s a shame we didn’t see some better use of the built-in SIXAXIS control, augmented reality capabilities, and rear touch pad.
Don’t expect to do anything all that exciting in this game—it’s a real slow puzzle-oriented affair. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it seemed the last few years of the Harry Potter story were pretty intense, and that’s just not captured very well in the gameplay. Duels in particular are just boring, requiring you to send the right spell at the right time at your foe. The game is rated E 10+, and it’s clear TT Games was after that minimum age group, but it’s hard to believe a kid wouldn’t get bored with this kind of gameplay.
One of the best parts of any Lego game is playing with friends. A game set in the Harry Potter universe just screams for multiplayer—as you can find on nearly every Lego game—but it’s simply missing from the PS Vita version.
For fans of Harry Potter that are saddened by the end of his story, this PS Vita game may offer a few hours of joy. But, there simply isn’t anything really worth talking about here. It shouldn’t be hard to convince fans to check this out, but if you are looking for a new game for Sony’s handheld, you may be disappointed. It’s not a bad game, and it’s not a great game. It’s merely adequate. The gameplay doesn’t really shine—in fact, it can get quite boring. The cutscenes are pretty poor, but the music is pretty strong. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is a middle of the road affair that didn’t really take advantage of the P Vita, but is likely to make fans of the series happy.