Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 PS3 review
For all his magical powers, Harry hasn’t fared particularly well in videogames. Dutifully churned out of the blockbuster machine whenever a new film came out, the adventures of the young wizard have ranged from passable to total snooze-fests. Then, last year, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 appeared. Bringing its now trademark blend of puzzling and platforming to Hogwarts, Traveller’s Tales hit the magical nail on the head. Building Harry Potter with Lego seems absurdly natural – those knights, castles and skeletons you played with as a child are all here.
Life takes a darker turn for the boy wizard in Years 5-7, as the story speeds toward the showdown with You-Know-Who. This means all-new locations, three Unforgivable Curses to learn and new (mostly evil) characters. Add in a heap of charm, a clear love for the series and some fun, varied gameplay, and fans are receiving the best HP game yet.
But this isn’t for muggles. Those not familiar with the books/films will be baffled by knowing cut-scenes, while their Potter-doting friends chuckle away. However, Traveller’s Tales is adept at translating even the most complex of plots into piles of bricks, and this might just be its slickest conversion to date.
Diagon Alley makes a perfect hub – a winding street of shops for your every spell-waving need. It’s here that you first experience the loving detail that’s gone into the game. Posters adorn the pillars outside Gringotts Bank with news of Death Eater hunts, and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes is a colourful treasure trove of delights.
Following the ghostly trail of dots left behind by a helpful Nearly Headless Nick, Harry and friends travel through London (pink-haired punks and soldiers in bearskins included) to King’s Cross station and onto Hogwarts.
There’s one basic Lego rule for level progression: destroy everything. Initially this is a downfall for Potter – but as spells are learned and character-specific powers reveal themselves, it quickly becomes less of a problem.
While the gameplay is similar to the previous game, locations such as Grimmauld Place and the Department Of Mysteries mean it’s certainly not a chore to continue the story. A multitude of specific spells outstrip other Potter games’ nasty habit of treating a wand as an automatic pistol. With spells to cast, potion ingredients to find and a variety of skills to learn over the three segments, there’s hours of replay value to be had once you’ve completed the main story.
Even the combat is enjoyable. Opponents need specific spells hurtled at them, which triggers some QTE-style button-mashing to curse your way to victory. And with 5-7 being more Death Eater heavy, you have far more opportunity to blast away your enemies. You’ll explode into studs a few times until you get faster at spell selection, but it’s a satisfying combat mechanic.
With beautifully designed environments, the game looks and sounds fantastic – and there are some genuinely lovely added extras. It’s a treat to play a movie tie-in that’s truly worthy of its source material, and Years 5-7 is calling you right now. Go on, in you go… “Alohomora!”