Hogwarts was a health and saftey nightmare
The LEGO franchise has officially become a staple diet in this generation of consoles. You don’t have to wait many months for the next Star Wars, Indy, Harry, Pirates, Batman, Bob, Keith … version of the game. In many ways they all play the same, but each has their own unique high and, unfortunately, low points. When I reviewed LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (LH1), I enjoyed the game, but was critical of the confused hub world and complexity in choice of magic. Did Travellers Tales (TT) take heed of my criticism, or did they instead compound their errors?
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (LH2) starts of, like any other game in the LEGO universe, as a series of levels that take place within the IP of the game. This means that there are 24 levels that have players working together to build, break, lift and drop blocks within the last 4 Harry Potter films. Unlike in LH1, many of the levels in LH2 are set outside of Hogwarts, including such locations as the woods and Ministry of Magic. However, like in the previous game, there is still far too much retracing of steps as you walk round and round Hogwarts looking for the next room.
As always the co-op within the LEGO games is decent, but not inspiring. The game is local co-op only and sticks with the more recent splitscreen method of the game that allows players to split up and move away from one another. This means that the game sometimes feels like you are playing two separate games within the same level – so many little treats are lost to one player as they are concentrating on something else. LH2 is also a little short on true co-op elements, such as requiring one player to lift another. The majority of the games levels can be done with the two players not really interacting with one another.
A typical Summer's day in England
This is not to say that LH2 is not enjoyable. The diverse levels mean that it is more interesting to play than the last effort, but other issues do get in the way. Players must cycle through 8 different magical powers, as well as some unique abilities i.e. Harry’s cloak, Ron’s magic light etc. At times you can be juggling upwards of 15 different ways to tackle an issue. This may not be too much of a problem for an older gamer, but younger players will be left frustrated and seeing as this is the core audience for the game, TT are making a rod for their own back.
It is the hidden characters, abundant gold bricks and quirky Easter eggs that remain the LEGO universes saving grace and this is the case again. LH2 is a massive experience, once you complete the story you can re-enter the levels in free play mode with characters you have unlocked. They in turn can find new sections within the level and unlock more characters. Finding all the extras in the levels and the giant hub will take a good 14-16 hours for seasoned gamers and perhaps an eternity to little nippers.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is a LEGO game that stands upon the precipice between a quality experience and the depths of unoriginality. Too many assets are reused from the last game and the gameplay is still too complex for younger players. However, bang for your buck means a lot in today’s Broken Britain (Aching America?) and LH2 is a lot of game for your money that, despite its faults, still entertains as the hours fly by. The game’s co-op is a strange mix of being integral and worthless. You don’t have to play co-op, but the game is a lot duller experience without a friend. With so little to distinguish the game from the plethora of other LEGO titles it is hard to overly recommend this LH2 except for fans of the franchise. You will have fun, just the same fun you had 5 years ago.
Editor's Note: The Co-Optimus Co-Op Review of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.