The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Harry Potter and the Developer’s Lack of Trying

Written by: Corey Bonanno, Special to CC2K

I love recycling I think it’s a great practice, I believe it can take something that has exhausted its purpose and make it into a new wallet, a shopping bag, or whatever.  When it comes to video games, recycling doesn’t take on a new purpose, it loses interest and value to the audience. LEGO Harry Potter, a game that maintains the LEGO franchise formula, but doesn’t quite hold the charm of those before it. The noticeable changes are the film’s original soundtrack, the setting of Hogwarts Castle, and the magical charm of Lego and Harry Potter. In spite of being a tired design, LEGO Harry Potter just might be the best Harry Potter game released to date.
The game plays through the first four years of Harry’s time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The environments look great, the castle is detailed and polished, and absolutely everything can be enchanted and spellbound to much delight.  While this is all well and good, the levels are extremely linear with tons of blocked off areas that you won’t be able to access until after you’ve beaten the main story line.  Completing the story mode is a long and daunting task due to how much time is spent on just walking from one part of the castle to the next, and being forced into redundant tutorials to learn new spells.  The cutscenes are short summaries of the major events in the movies/books, but given the humor and charm that LEGO does so well.  In regular LEGO fashion the game has hours of gameplay and tons of bonus material to run back through and discover, but I never felt the drive to do so.
The gameplay is exactly what you expect from a LEGO game, trudging from room to room collecting studs with no real purpose or benefit, solving a quick block puzzle, and earning your favorite characters to be playable for free-roam. Unlike the Star Wars Lego games, these characters are more of a re-skin than getting a new style of play .  Unfortunately there isn’t really much action in the game, the fights are few and far between and rely on a dysfunctional targeting system.  The game takes place in a school, so they can’t have spawning wizards trying to kill you every second on your way to your next class.  This works in context with the material of the Harry Potter world, but makes for a dull experience.  
Overall, the game is a time killer, there is nothing new, but the mechanics have been juiced up a bit to make the formula seem fresh enough to keep people playing.  The game, though mediocre in almost every way, can eat away the hours.  I grew up reading the books, watching the movies, and playing the games, and I still couldn’t get behind this title like previous Lego spinoffs.  Yes, the game is for kids, but LEGO makes there games relatable for the aging fans too.  If you love Harry Potter you’ll probably be able to get over all the games flaws and be absorbed in the charms, but if you’re a fan of the LEGO games, stick with Star Wars.

+Tons of things to do, lots of bonuses to go back and collect.  Keeps you busy.

+Its pretty damn charming if you were or are a Harry Potter fan.

-Put a whip on Harry or swap the wand for a lightsaber, and you’ve played this game.

-Trophies, for the most part, are unobtainable on your first play through, which takes away the rewarding feeling of putting forth so much effort.

6.5 out of 10.0