leujin: (21 and 24 (Seinfeld with a unibrow))
[personal profile] leujin
Liz and I, like many people in our generation, are avid Harry Potter fans. Liz got into it well before I did. In fact, I didn't start watching the movies until Year 4 and I didn't start reading the books until a few months before book 7 came out. That being the case, this game was naturally a first day purchase for Liz and I. This review is for the Wii version.


LEGO Harry Potter is a very faithful recreation of the first four books/movies of the series. It follows the movies more closely, though there are a few reference to the books that weren't in the movies that will be a delight for fans. Like most of the games in the LEGO video game series, the gameplay is very simple and intuitive. Also like the other games in the LEGO video game series, the characters don't talk, but rather grunt and gesticulate, sometimes to great comedic effect.

Controlling the characters is simple: the control stick moves, A jumps, B fires your basic spell, Z casts your secondary spell, and secondary spells can be cycled through using either the 1 or 2 buttons or holding down C. Tapping the C button will allow you to control one of the other playable characters on screen.

As indicated by the title of the game, you will play through the first four years of Harry Potter's adventures. Hogwarts castle acts as a larger hub world, and when you start a new chapter of the story, you will be led through the castle by Nearly-headless Nick. You will attend classes to learn new spells that will help you get through the next chapters of the game, and later spells allow you to go back through the game in free play mode and unlock innumerable collectables in Free Play Mode.

The Good

The game is incredibly easy for even a novice player to pick up and play, and most of the puzzles are easy enough to figure out with a little bit of clever thinking, but never too easy as to be insulting to the player. The game is also tailor made with younger audiences in mind, so it really is a great family game if that's the kind of thing you're looking for. Some of the more greusome scenes are toned down in violence (in particular the ending of year 4), so things shouldn't be too traumatic (after all, the game IS rated "E" for Everyone).

As previously mentioned, the game is a very faithful recreation of the first four movies, with a few clever nods to the books. If you're even a little bit of a fan of Harry Potter, then this game is for you. I've played all the other LEGO games--except LEGO Indiana Jones--and I found them all to be enjoyable, however short they were. You'll see all your favorite characters, and a lot of characters that will leave you scratching your head and thinking "who or what is that?" because the only appeared briefly in one of the books (ie: The Dursley's house guests from the beginning of Book 2 are playable characters. Why?), so if you can think of the character, you'll probably be able to play as them.

The Bad

The controls can be, for lack of a better word, wonky. Sometimes the spell targeting requires you to be in one exact location and position, otherwise it won't work. All throughout the story mode of the game, players can use the 1 and 2 buttons to cycle through the different spells, but in Free Play mode these buttons become those which you use to cycle through characters, and the C button is then used to switch spells. Mostly this is just jarring if you're used to cycling through the spells briskly, and as I understand it this isn't a problem on the other platforms.

Like the other LEGO video games, this one is short. Just when you're really starting to get a feel for the game and starting to enjoy it, the game ends! The main game clocks in at a play time of about 10 hours, with roughly another 10 for obtaining 100% completion. The jokiness of the recreation can get tiresome at times, but never enough to make you want to shut the game off and never return to it. Mostly it's just eye-rolling moments, but honestly the source material has it's fair share of these, too.

The Ugly

This game is buggy as hell. I'm not talking your run of the mill glitches that are fun to exploit, or the kind that are more just a neusance than anything (although there are plenty of those, too). In fact, for the most part these glitches are just the kind of thing that make you sigh and shake your head, muttering to yourself, "Well, that's just not right." Example: Later in the game when you've unlocked the indicators for the collectables, some of them will show up where they don't belong, i.e. where there are no collectibles. In some rooms when you stand in a specific place, the screen changes color, but you move away and it changes back. Not more than a nussiance.

However, there are a few game killing glitches. The most well known (according to one of the FAQs I read, anyway) is a glitch in one of the classrooms of Hogwarts castle. In some cases, the room doesn't allow you to exit if you're attempting to build the exit while obtaining the collectible. Because the game auto-saves, and when you exit and re-enter the castle it drops you back in the last room you were in when you saved, you will be indefinitely stuck in this room. The only way to exit is to completely restart the game. Also, sometimes if you quit a level mid-way through, the story will guide you to the next level, and upon completion of the game you'll find you're unable to go back to the level you skipped. Bad news.

The big glitch that Liz and I ran into is one of the classrooms freezing, which is also a common problem for other players, however the classroom never seems to be the same. When going into the classroom, the load screen comes up, but then it never leaves. And then the music loops. And you have to reboot the system completely to get the game to start again. There's also reportedly a glitch wherein if you do the final bonus stage before unlocking all the collectibles in Hogwarts castle, you are unable to return to the castle proper. Glitches like these prevent the perfectionist from getting 100%, which is ENDLESSLY frustrating.

Final thoughts
LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 is, overall, a really great game. It's fun, simple, and a very faithful adaptation of this beloved series. The game is a bit short, but that's come to be expected of the LEGO series of video games. However, this games greatest downfall is the abundant glitches. Most of them don't ruin the fun, but some of the major glitches force you to completely restart the game. It's worth buying if you are a Harry Potter fan, but be wary of the glitches. It's definitely worth looking at any of the FAQs available online so that you're aware of them before getting into the game.

Score: 7.5/10 (brought down considerably because of the glitches)

Date: 2010-07-22 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] boombashpow.livejournal.com

Date: 2010-07-22 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leujin.livejournal.com
That is neither constructive nor friendly.

July 2011


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