Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 Review (PlayStation Vita)

If you’ve seen one Lego game, you’ve seen them all, right?  Well, not as of late.  Travellers Tales has been tweaking its last few titles to provide a little more depth, such as Lego Pirates of the Caribbean and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.  And with Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes promising to be the biggest one yet, we’re pleased to see the team isn’t running aground on the usual ideas.  Now it’s made its debut on the PlayStation Vita with Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7, a game that may be several months late in catching up on the magician’s popularity, but still deserves a shot when it comes to fans of either Lego or Potter (or both).

As expected, the plot line loosely follows events that take place from Order of the Phoenix to the final chapter of Deathly Hallows, when Harry finally faces off against Voldemort.  Of course, being a Lego game, it’s told in a kid-friendly, comical style, with characters grunting and humorous situations arising.  Travellers Tales still knows how to get a chuckle out of the player without hammering a joke too far into the ground, as Lego Harry Potter easily proves here.

However, not all of the gameplay elements mesh.  While we thoroughly enjoyed taking part in duels with rival characters and using numerous spells in combat, some of the puzzle solving got a little tedious — like needing to calm down a freezing student by getting them some hot liquid (rather than sending them to get it themselves) or trying to solve a picture puzzle.  We know the team was just trying to throw in some diversity, but some of these segments really do drag on.

Even worse, you can’t rely on a friend to help you out this time around.  Possibly due to limited time in development (to get the game out while Potter was still relevant), this release doesn’t come with any sort of multiplayer option, so a friend can’t drop in or out (like in the console versions) to help you out.  This makes Lego Harry Potter a lonelier affair than it should’ve been, though fans will still be engaged by some of the activities.  Let’s hope that Lego Batman 2 doesn’t suffer a similar fate, yes?

The presentation has its ups and downs when it comes to fitting on the Vita.  On the bright side, the in-game action is entertaining, as you seek out hidden goodies and watch your characters interact with one another through the world.  The environments reflect those from Potter’s universe quite faithfully, and you’ll even recognize many of the characters, some of which you’ve even forgotten about.  The frame rate is fluid and the lighting effects sparkle, especially when you use one of your multiple magic effects.

On the flip side, the cut scenes look somewhat dated.  Instead of remastering them for the PS Vita (again, probably a time-cutting measure), they’re instead recycled from previous versions, running on what looks like low-grade playback.  Fortunately, you can skip over them and get right back to the game.

In terms of audio, it’s typical Lego, with some humorous grunts here and there and a very faithful inclusion of the Harry Potter movie themes.  This is sure to please fans.

While it would’ve been nice for Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 to include co-op multiplayer (even local) and some better pacing in certain levels, it remains a magical experience for PS Vita owners, especially those who need their fix of Travellers Tales’ Lego treatment.  Check it out and see if Harry still does it for you.