Developer: Traveler's Tales ("LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga")
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii, DS
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Having recreated the "Star Wars" saga and the "Indiana Jones" films in plastic block form, the wily Brits at Traveler’s Tales turn their attention to the Harry Potter books and movies. Concentrating on Harry's first four years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (that’s in the PAC 10, right?), the game allows you to play your way through "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
As with all LEGO games, "Potter" uses simple arcade-style controls to explore the school and other locations from the original tales. While you’ll probably just want to play as Harry, Hermione or Ron, there are actually more than a 150 playable characters in the game, though many have to be unlocked before you can use them. Having so many different characters is especially handy for the game's drop-in, drop-out co-op play. (Plans are afoot to allow online co-op play for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions.)
Game play is similar to other LEGO titles, with some magical twists. While "LEGO Star Wars" had you whacking people with a lightsaber, "LEGO Batman" had you punching people out, and "LEGO Indiana Jones" had you punching, kicking, shooting and whipping people (man, that Indy has some anger issues), Potter is decidedly less about combat and more about puzzle and problem solving. Sure, you can shoot lightning bolts out of your magic wand, but mostly magic is used to assemble something, or get somewhere, or to find the ingredients for some really awful soups. (Or maybe those are potions?)
Even with a slower pace, the game retains the great and responsive controls typical with LEGO. It also has the same all ages appeal of the Harry Potter books and movies.
In fact, the only real issue with "LEGO Harry Potter" is that it isn’t as funny as its "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" counterparts. The LEGO games are usually more funny than fun for older gamers, but unless you know the "Potter" novels and films inside out you're going to miss a lot of the parody. It’s closer to 2008’s "LEGO Batman" in that way.
Granted, watching little LEGO people do anything has its charm, and you’d have to be a real muggle (or someone who still doesn’t know what a muggle is) not to appreciate Harry’s latest adventure.
Bottom line: Who knew Harry Potter could be such a (loveable) blockhead.
'LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4' video game review
Could our favorite boy wizard be any more adorable?
By Paul SemelSpecial to Metromix
June 25, 2010