LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7
His is a story whom nearly every human on the planet has read and re-read time and time again; the story of The Boy Who Lived. Seven books later and J.K. Rowling had created a magical legend that would define a generation of children’s childhoods. These are immersive stories that capture the heart and unleashed Potter-mania across the world. Magic has always been a key interest for children and adults alike but it is bespectacled Harry Potter and his two companions, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger that really made a world believe that magic could be possible.
So was the highly successful film series, detailing and bringing to life each of the books in mystical detail. Fans were delighted until it had to eventually end. However, never fear LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 is here! For those who were hanging up their robes and boxing away their wands, here is your chance to re-enter the World of Wizarding adored by so many. Years 5-7 is the continuation of LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a stale copy. It offers a whole lot more, making this game worth your galleons.
Over the past six years, it is fair to say that the LEGO franchise hasn’t really deviated from the same formulae used in LEGO Star Wars. The games are released after a successful film and follow the plot to a basic level – add adorable Lego aesthetics, a multitude of puzzles and a dash of goofy humour – and you’re there.
The game follows the last three films; The Order of the Phoenix, The Half Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows. As you’d expect a lot of the material is missing but the main parts are still there in all their brightly-lit brick glory. As Potter fans will know, in the last three films there is a lot of dark material to be covered and it could be argued Lego would have a tough time re-creating this in such a cheerful family-friendly dynamic but it manages the material perfectly by glossing over the darker areas with speechless gags. Harry never gets detention from Umbridge and Sirius’ death is looked over as just a passing concern – they are just minor inconveniences for the brand.
Years 5-7 begins in the first hub, Diagon Alley, albeit not really in the latter films and seemingly out of place, it sets a friendly base for unlocking cheats, new characters, videos and levels. This is swiftly followed by the easily recognisable Hogwarts. Here the game presents us with an irritating overlap from the first game. After having explored Hogwarts fully in the first game, it is tiring to explore it again although new features have been invariably added to keep the faithful gamer amused, such as Parsel-tongue puzzles. The same-old booing from Slytherin pupils never fails to amuse and Nearly Headless Nick’s spoon-feeding guidance can be a blessing in disguise. However, adventure cannot come quick enough through new areas such as Grimmauld Place, creatures such as Thestrals and fun vehicles such as Dragon Boats. Flashbacks and dream sequences are accessible with the help of Professor Snape providing a welcome break from familiar tasks and with de-saturated colours are instantly recognisable.
The action is kept light-hearted and cheerful from the off with mini-puzzles to sustain variety; each character has different tools they can use to unlock hidden areas and challenges, for example, Hermione has Crookshanks to dig up sandpits and Dudley’s strength can be used to open padlocked areas. Years 5–7 obviously picks puzzles over combat as you’d expect – the use of spells and potions are the most prominent. These can be collected as the game continues and are easy to use through the new spell and character menus. Awkward spells such as Levitation from the first game have been dropped creating less frustration and are replaced by Quick-fire Expelliarmus and new spells such as Aguamenti that enables the player to spray water from their wand. This change enables faster and sharper combat which can be fully explored during duelling, especially in the beautiful Room of Requirement. Duelling circles do become over-used though as the game goes on, they seem to appear every few minutes.
Each key character has to be used to achieve the mystical 100% – the basic story-line will only take you as far as 50%. This is why co-op mode is much more entertaining; the drop-in/drop-out system is easily managed and the shifting screen splits when two players are too far apart; this creates disorientating game-play but is ultimately worth it. Years 5-7 was designed for multiplayer. This is not to say that single player is uninviting, the AI is good and never gets in the way enabling the player to explore and repeat areas time and time again with each new character but this can become samey. It is fun playing as the usual suspects like Dumbledore and finding collectibles such as the Hogwarts Crest and Students in Peril although these do take time to find but provide a welcome challenge. The only negative to finding new characters through the game is that you must use the many thousands of studs you’ve collected, by smashing up everything, to buy them – even if they are practically unknown characters. Collectors will inevitably hate these purchases.
The music is reminiscent of the original symphonic scores and accompanies the intricate and spell-binding detail of the Lego Harry Potter scenery. This is especially effective in the Half Blood Prince raid on Gringotts and the climactic Ministry of Magic battle from Order of the Phoenix. Environments such as these have been made in stunning Lego accuracy; all are easily recognisable and instantly charm you into wanting to explore more albeit unco-operative camera angles make exploring a hard task in places; stairs often become mission impossible. Also familiar are the characters, Neville with his buck-tooth grin and Snape with his haughty disdain exemplified by his prominent huffs, even Umbridge is presented as just as evil from the films with her menacing smirks but not as worrying as He Who Must Not Be Named.
LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 is arguably one of the best games ever tied to a Warner Bros franchise and should be commended as the best Lego game of the series. For those not in the Potter-know, the levels may be completely baffling but this game was created for the fans – something to help put-off a Potter-free existence. It does this in a reliably entertaining way and is a game that presents so much replayability it questions whether it is possible to put it down.