LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 review
Avada Kedavra! The killing curse incantation could’ve been cast on LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, but instead, the video game adaptation of the films in LEGO form are simply delightful for the demographics it was aimed for, even if it does little to appease teenage and college crowds. Be warned though, playing cooperative is a must to avoid the pratfalls of dumb AI.
Fans of Harry Potter should undoubtedly fall in love with the new backdrop for the ongoing LEGO series. From Daigon Alley to Hogwarts, the scenery in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is a fantastic way to relive the memorable moments from the film franchise that began in 2001 and created hysteria unlike any other. In one instance, players are encountering Professor Quirrell’s deadly betrayal on the wizardry world and the next they are overcoming the odds in the Chamber of Secrets against the Basilisk. It’s all here for fan service, but that doesn’t exactly spell out a brilliant or innovative title.
The usual puzzle-solving and cutesy boss fights are all present in LEGO form. In addition, collecting LEGO coins and trading them in for new spells, outfits and the like is included to keep the standard formula strong. What’s different from previous LEGO titles is that backtracking plays a big part in Harry Potter to unlock new areas in Hogwarts. This could be looked upon as either a worthy or cheap addition to increase replay value. Personally speaking, backtracking is tiring to the point of monotony.
Cooperatively speaking, LEGO Harry Potter offers two-player, offline split-screen. Containing no online cooperative functions, LEGO fans should feel a sense of disappointment that the series hasn’t evolved past its offline traditions. Also, the dynamic split-screen can be incredibly jarring. Instead of a strict horizontal or vertical split, the divider rotates around the screen to accommodate players' movements, creating a dizzying effect. This isn’t game-breaking, but players will have to adjust accordingly to walk away impressed with the co-op play; especially since it is limiting on the player’s view in the long run.
If you don’t have a companion to play through the story mode, then be prepared to be amazed at how utterly incompetent the AI can be. Rather than assisting and complimenting the player, the AI often hinders advancement due to their tendency to fall off ledges, accidentally kill the player, get stuck on walls and other similar incidents. This issue will likely affect younger, less experienced audiences, so parents best know beforehand that they might need to provide support more often than not to help their children advance through even the most straightforward of levels.
The simple humor and charm are attractions all their own, but they don't give LEGO Harry Potter a free pass, especially since the series hasn’t flourished since its debut five short years ago with LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. It’s not overwhelmingly difficult – this is a good thing for younger audiences – and it doesn’t tread new ground, so what could anyone take away from LEGO Harry Potter? Well, the ability to play as primary characters such as Ron, Hermione, Sirius, Lupin and the boy who survived, Harry Potter, is almost enough to recommend a purchase.