LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Review for Xbox 360

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We had a bit of a discussion here in the office just a few days ago: what other games could translate well into a Lego title? Lego Call of Duty? Lego Twilight? How about a Lego fitness game… OK, I'll be quiet now - developers could be listening. Either way I imagine that over in Warner Bros. HQ there is a big list, surrounded by dollar symbols, with every future Lego title that can and will be made. The next one to be struck off is Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4, a magical universe loved by children and adults alike, and as we have come to expect from the Lego series, it's seriously good fun.

Years 1-4, eh? Sequel confirmed, then. Here we follow the story of the world's favourite young wizard and his friends, through their first four years in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's obvious to any Harry Potter fan that the foundations of the game are rooted in the films rather than the books - there's no appearance from Peeves the Poltergeist, and the unnecessary moving staircases are ever-present. But in terms of capturing the magic (excuse me!) of Harry Potter, developer Traveller's Tales has nailed it.

As with previous entries in the Lego series, the meat of the story is told through a number of short, light-hearted cutscenes. Again, all voice acting is conducted with grunts and nonsensical gibberish, but the often hilarious interpretations of these iconic moments mean that you generally get the idea of what's going on, and what to do next. One part that particularly tickles me is the moment when Harry and Hagrid walk into Gringotts bank for the first time so that Harry can withdraw some wizard money. They approach the desk of a menacing-looking goblin knuckled down in his paperwork, and present Harry's bank key (complete with a little Lego Harry Potter keychain). The goblin goes back to his work, obviously eager to finish it before he goes to help. As the camera pans behind him, he steps out of the way to reveal a child-like crayon drawing of a house, stick-people and an enormous yellow sun.

It's this kind of inoffensive humour that really speaks to me; just a light touch of funny without taking anything away from the story being told. You can expect to see one of these pre-rendered shorts every 15 minutes or so, neatly wrapping up the key plot points so you can get on with being a wizard, or rather a wizard in training. In order to learn Harry's full arsenal of spells you'll need to attend all of the necessary lessons. These take the form of short demonstrations followed by a simple challenge to use the new technique, after which it will be added to the spell wheel on your HUD.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot

Potion-making becomes a game in itself as you hunt down the three separate ingredients for your recipe, usually requiring you to move, build, or demolish objects before the necessary items are revealed. Gradually more and more of Hogwarts School will be opened up as you unlock the skills, charms, potions and characters required to negotiate the variety of obstacles in your way. There are layers of gameplay here; series of micro-tasks make up the pieces to larger puzzles, which in turn are the building blocks of the grand design. The school is massive once it opens up, so it's a neat way of easing you into your life as a wizard without dropping you straight in the deep end.

As with previous Lego titles the fun isn't limited to the story. Collectables are found everywhere, awarded for tasks like magically turning on all the lamps in a room, rescuing a student in peril, or simply finding all the missing Lego pieces from a broken object. Rewards come in the shape of Hogwarts crest pieces and gold bricks, and since there are a great many of both (more than 200, in the case of the bricks), completionists may find themselves in some kind of magical heaven here. Even more so than previous titles, just about everything detonates into a shower of gold and silver studs when hit with a well-aimed attack spell. You will often find yourself forgetting about the task at hand in favour of simply bulldozing through the level, sending hexes in every direction, just to collect as many of the pick-ups as possible. Collect enough studs to match a level's requirements, a number often in the hundreds of thousands, and you will be awarded True Wizard status, complete with another gold brick - phew!

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Endless's Avatar

Endless@ guyderman

My wife finished the story last night at 46% She's played it virtually every night since release!
Posted 14:44 on 06 July 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ Roland_D11

Yeah, I've finished the main stories of all four years - but these only account for about 25% of the total game!
Posted 12:46 on 06 July 2010
Roland_D11's Avatar

Roland_D11@ guyderman

It's nice that there is so much to do in it. Did you finish the 'story' already?

But I have to resist, thanks to that Steam sale last week I have so many games I should finish first...
Posted 12:33 on 06 July 2010
draytone's Avatar

draytone

YouTube Video
Posted 12:26 on 06 July 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ Roland_D11

I know exactly what you mean mate. I've already put in over 15 hours and am only at around 35% complete. There is a lot of game here! :)
Posted 12:14 on 06 July 2010
Roland_D11's Avatar

Roland_D11@ SebVG

Is it a golden cage at least? ;-)

To topic: Great review, but I'm still reluctant to pick it up. I have a pretty bad case of 'completionism' and I'm afraid I won't be able to play anything else when I pick this up (happened before with Lego Star Wars).
Posted 12:11 on 06 July 2010
SebVG's Avatar

SebVG@ CheekyLee

I'm a pretty big Harry Potter fan, but there were some moments where I struggled to grasp exactly what was going on. I totally agree that Lego games are always worth playing - but more so than ever I think non fans of Potter would only really be enjoying the crazy exploding lego rather than following the lighthearted story. Then again, you'd have to be living under a rock to not know the vague premise of Harry's life.

Edit: Thanks for the positive feedback as well! I like it when Tom lets me out of my cage to write something :)

P.S. The cage is not a metaphor
Posted 12:07 on 06 July 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Good review Seb. Downloaded the demo and it was alright to be honest.

@Lee. Can't see a Lego James Bond happening but would be good. I think a LEGO Toy Story would be good.
Posted 11:46 on 06 July 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee

All the Lego games are worth playing, irrespective of your feelings of the subject matter. This one, in particular, has gone collectable crazy. A Potter fan will love it, but even a non-Potter fan could easily find it worth the money.

In answer to paragraph 1, I hope those devs are reading this as I make my request for Lego James Bond.
Posted 11:40 on 06 July 2010
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

Nice, will be getting this.
Posted 11:35 on 06 July 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Wow Seb,
this was a fantastic review.
You've inspired me to put it on my list of games to play.
Well done mate :D
Posted 09:19 on 06 July 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

Good review - I'm really enjoying this game at the moment. Finished the main story chapters and now collecting like crazy to get all the extra bits and bobs.
Posted 08:33 on 06 July 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
8
Out of 10
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  • Tons and tons to collect
  • Brilliant fun in co-op
  • Hilarious cutscenes
  • Story can be hard to follow
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 28/05/2010
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , Wii , DS , PS2 , PSP
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Genre: Adventure
Rating: PEGI 7+
Site Rank: 2,480 1
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