Traveller’s Tales has continued to excel at not only bringing the biggest franchises into the world of LEGO, but also managed to craft some wonderful adventures full of intrigue, humour and downright fun platform antics. Following on from LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game on Wii, now it is time for LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, tracking the final steps of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. Should people still care enough to buy this, though?
Rather than lavishing the latest adventure with heaps of pre-rendered cut-scenes filled with the movie’s voice actors, the developer continues with the trend it has followed before with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, always priding itself on taking a more humorous slant with any LEGO release. From the start there are familiar scenes that fans can relate to, yet all done with a dash of comic acting, with characters grunting, making elaborate gestures and even the odd bit of slapstick being mixed in for good measure. It makes for a heartily amusing romp through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that can be enjoyed by friends and family with the greatest of ease thanks to the drop-in, drop-out co-operative facility employed, with players breaking out into a dynamic split-screen setting when wandering off on their own around the fantastical world.
The draw of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 comes from the wealth of characters to discover and unlock (more than 80), the considerable number of spells and curses to master, as well as the multitude of locations to visit, all of which will appeal to even the most moderate fan of the Potter-verse. Travel from the Muggle world of Privet Drive, through to the wizarding realms of Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Godric’s Hollow and even good old Hogwarts itself, all in an attempt to finally overthrow the infamous Lord Voldemort.
Considering the same formula has been regurgitated to death, quite shockingly LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is admittedly great fun, if somewhat all-too-familiar at times. It has to come down to both the fact that TT Games has such a strong core foundation in place, and that the outfit has a superb grasp of the source content. Here they’ve whipped up six main stages that are thoroughly faithful to the world according to J.K. Rowling, split into 24 separate story segments linked to key events from the original books and movie representations, with 16 lessons to attend, and more items and bonuses to uncover and collect than you can shake a holly wand with a phoenix feather core at! Although the primary goal is to reach the game’s conclusion, the majority of the fun comes from wandering around, collecting endless amounts of LEGO studs and unearthing new treasures via simple puzzles that make use of different characters’ magical abilities. The processes involved usually require rather simple one-button presses, but the after-effect is entertaining enough to cover the simple structure in place, with extremely surprising occurrences following most triggers.
As with LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game, this new outing also includes a sparring element -- though instead of sword fights, it focuses on the obvious slant of wand duels. Players must use the right spells to counter the incoming attacks from an enemy, but the system proves to be so simplistic, as in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, that it grows boring after a short time, which is why the fact that the feature is seemingly reused so frequently mars the adventure on the whole. However, ignoring the overdose of button-mashing and focusing more on the zany take on the Harry Potter series and the generally solid platform adventuring side more than alleviates the pain of any minor drawbacks to help LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 still appeal to Potter enthusiasts and followers of previous LEGO outings alike.
Solid adventuring overall, relying on the base foundation laid many years back, but draping it with a clever Harry Potter skin that helps to cover up any cracks forming in this ageing formula.
Wonderfully recreated worlds from the world of Harry Potter, all with a tinge of humour that keeps the adventure more light-hearted than the recent dark film adaptations.
Themes from the movies ring true throughout, and the odd grunts from characters in cut-scenes prove to be of great comic value.
A large part of the draw comes from discovering plenty of extras, unlocking new characters and ensuring that every last hidden item is collected, on top of a hearty main adventure packed with puzzles.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 continues the theme of wonderfully crafted adventures from TT Games, bringing together a solid adventuring foundation and the fantastical world of Harry Potter to deliver yet another fine experience for those who enjoyed previous LEGO games, as well as ones related to J.K. Rowling’s work. An ageing formula it may be, but it is still one that works well enough.