Some people say that Harry Potter is just for kids. It is also said that Legos are just for kids.
However, for those who like fantasy action adventure games, I think it can be said that Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 can truly be a game for all ages.
Officially rated Everyone 10-plus by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, this game was released in June and has already shipped more than 2.7 million units worldwide. It would seem that it appeals to both Harry Potter fans and those who have enjoyed other Lego games (including several Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles). It is available for PC, XBox 360, Nintendo Wii and DS, PlayStation 3, and PSP.
While it has been labeled a fantasy action adventure game, after playing through all of the Year One activities, I would also classify it as a puzzle game. It definitely takes deductive reasoning to make your way through the different parts of Hogwarts. Some of the tasks are nothing more than shooting items several times, while others involve completing learned spells in a particular order. Still others involve building things in a certain way … well, this is a Lego game after all.
Fans of the books/movies will definitely have an advantage when playing this game. For example, remembering how Harry and his friends got past the devil’s snare plants in Sorcerer’s Stone gives you a clue on how to get past certain hallway obstacles, as well as complete the mini-boss fight in the greenhouse. However, not everything is depicted exactly the same was as in the stories, as a few things are changed to give an opportunity for more gameplay. Overall, though, you proceed through the game events in the same order as in the stories. Some of the parts are presented through Lego-style cinematics, while other important scenes are the basis of the different puzzles, tasks, and fights the player must complete.
From scenes such as Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley to his first Quiddich game to his battle against Quirrell, all of the story is represented in the Year One activities. Playing on easy mode, as someone who has not had a great deal of experience with Lego games, it took me approximately four hours to complete Year One. I have not played further than that, but I would assume that the subsequent years also follow the stories very well.
While I cannot verify this, I would also assume that the game gets more difficult each year. That would not only make sense for any game, but it would also parallel Harry’s adventures.
When traveling the halls of Hogwarts, or entering rooms or areas to complete tasks, a good tip is to shoot anything and everything. Not only can you get coins that way, but also sometimes this can lead to another step in the task, in that sometimes things have to be broken to later be put together in other ways. The staircases, paintings and other objects act much like you would expect them to in Hogwarts, and can be helpful as you go through the game.
During the game, not only do you have the opportunity to play as different characters (most notably, Harry, Hermione and Ron), but you have to do so for certain tasks, as some of them have different abilities. For example, Ron has the ability to release Scabbers, whom you then control and take into pipes to affect other objects or reach other places. Harry gains the invisibility cloak, which for the game is used much like spells.
Personally, while I very much enjoyed the parts I have played thus far, I also found myself frustrated on several tasks. Perhaps people with more Lego game experience would be able to move through the game quicker and easier. Kids may also have an easier time than I did, as they often see things differently than adults.
I have to admit that I did consult a walkthrough guide that I found on the Internet for some of the tasks. However once I knew the solution to one area, that mode of thinking allowed me to figure out other areas more easily.
I definitely recommend this game to those who are fans of Harry Potter, and who like this kind of fantasy and puzzle game. Lego game fans will also enjoy it. The graphics are great, and the gameplay logical and challenging without being overly difficult.