Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Video Game Review: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5–7

Based on my recent experience with LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean [1] I was worried that there would be changes in this game compared to the first (LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1–4 [2]). The first was based on the movies, not the books. But I was still nervous that even though there were four more movies, that they'd treat the last two as a single movie and so give me fewer levels to play. I also worried that since so much of the action takes place outside of Hogwarts that they would ditch using Hogwarts as a meta-level, which made the first one a lot of fun.

My verdict: Thankfully, Hogwarts was retained. I recently rewatched the Harry Potter movies since I got the boxed set for Christmas [3], and I can now see that the attention to detail in the video game is meticulous. I was a little annoyed, though, that for most of The Deathly Hallows Parts I and II you were stuck in the woods and couldn't get back to Hogwarts. Also, there are noticeably fewer rooms in Hogwarts compared to the first game.[4] AI characters still get in the way sometimes and LEGO studs still fall beyond your reach. It doesn't have any of the mini-games or anything like the bounty hunter missions—both of which made the original LEGO Star Wars a lot of fun. On the plus side, there are some fun new spells to add to your repertoire. And I liked having Hermione's 'Bag of Endless Holding' [5] and the Deluminator as special abilities. And after McGonagall casts Piertotum Locomotor, you can ride the animated suits of armor.

This game placed high in my ranking of LEGO video games, but it could've placed higher if it weren't for one thing: reaching the final Hogwarts Crest piece in "Magic is Might" is excruciatingly frustrating. It's at the very end of the level (which has several long, unskippable animation sequences), and if you don't get it exactly right you die and then Dementors push you forward so you can't go back and try again.[6] So you have to start over. Dueling with Umbridge over and over until you manage to pick up the piece gets old really fast. It took me two and a half hours and over twenty tries. Shame on you, Traveller's Tales!

NOTE: There's a brilliantly executed homage to a Star Wars: A New Hope poster [7] near the end of Deathly Hallows, Part II, when Neville draws the Sword of Gryffindor.


[1] Read that review here.

[2] Read that review here.

[3] See my post Lillian's First Christmas.

[4] Like last time I drew myself a map, using Inkscape. I've decided to share it in case anyone else decides to play the game. (Be warned that the full-sized image is 3500 × 6000 pixels.)

[5] This name is an inside joke referring to a piece of metafiction I wrote with my friends involving, among other things, Reese Witherspoon, nerds, Reese Witherspoon, lame superheroes, Reese Witherspoon, a Jawa Sandcrawler, Reese Witherspoon, homages to several movies, Reese Witherspoon, and boogers. Oh, and Reese Witherspoon. It may have its origins, though, in some RPG (I'm not sure).

[6] This video helped me.

[7] This one.

1 comment:

  1. I thought the predecessor (year 1-4) was fun, but I strongly disliked this one. Everything felt so obvious and straightforward. I was constantly covering new ground, but it never felt like I was exploring, just passively watching.

    The minimum system requirements (PC) for this one were appreciably lower than for years 1-4, but the load times were SO long.