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August 21, 2010
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
1/6/2010WB GamesWB GamesTT Games1-2None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 is on PS3 now.
Right up front here I'm going to admit that I'm not a fan of Harry Potter. Haven't read the books, saw a couple of movies, thought they were pretty laughable and didn't go back for more. It's now July 2010 and I am faced with reviewing Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4. The result? Even for a non-fan of the franchise this is still a game I very much enjoyed, and it may even get me to go back and check out the movies again.

Lego Harry Potter will be familiar to anyone who has played previous Lego titles by Traveller's Tales, including Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga or Lego Indiana Jones. The game is played from a third person perspective and sees you controlling one of 170 unlockable characters (although primarily either Harry, Ron or Hermine in the story mode) to travel around Hogwarts and other locations from the first four books and feature films.

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Visually Lego Harry Potter impresses.
In fact it's the recreation of the locations from the books and movies including Hogwarts of course but also Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest, the village of Hogsmeade. Characters, and enemies, are all instantly recognisable and have plenty of charm to them. Throughout the game you will travel these locations to complete sections of the main story, but there is plenty to do including potion-making and puzzle solving while combat includes the use of dozens of spells which can be learnt in class, or bought through the shops. At times you will even be able to fly around on broomsticks, however there isn't any playable quiddich in the game which is sure to disappoint some fans.

The best news for gamers though is that the game can be played with a friend in co-op mode. While there are always 3 characters on-screen, you can switch between your character and the free one at any time. Players will also need to work together to solve many of the puzzles, most of which involve hitting a switch while others are on platforms. One aspect of Lego Harry Potter that did impress was the length. While many game tie-ins are short and sweet this game is fairly lengthy, but there is so much to discover and unlock you could be playing for weeks.

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Pictures on the walls move, and are interactive.
Sadly, we do have a few issues with the game. Firstly the camera, while fairly good, does at times make it a little hard to see where you're going or what you're meant to be doing. Beyond that though I was pretty astonished and disappointed to see that a game where you have 3 characters on-screen, and where you have the ability to switch between them at any stage by hitting the triangle button, only allows 2-players to play the game. Not allowing 3 people to play together seems like a missed opportunity.

Also disappointing is the fact that there is no online gameplay, not even for 2-players in a co-op mode. Surely this can't be too hard to implement, TT Games had it running in the Lego Star Wars titles so why not in this game (or indeed the previous Lego Batman. Apparently a patch is in the works to add online support, but time will tell if it ever eventuates (and I'll go Postal if they charge for it!)...

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Cut scenes in Lego Harry Potter are great!
As you would have seen in the surrounding screenshots Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is a visually impressive game. The Lego interpretations of each character not only looks the part, but has a personality that matches their on-screen presence. While the range of animations is a little limited, the quality is fairly impressive. Certainly a highlight of this game is the presentation of the cut-scenes. These are often taken straight from the movies themselves but have often been altered with amusing results.

We must point out that years ago there were severe issues with screen-tearing in the Lego video game franchise, but we are happy to report that TT Games have eliminated much of this tearing (although it is still visible), however there is an option to V-Lock the game which drops the frame rate, but removes tearing.

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The Lego Harry Potter levels are filled with detail.
As with previous games in this series the audio is quite superb. While there is no speech each of the character grunts and makes noises that suits the scene perfectly, and you do get an idea of what's happening. Fortunately if you've followed the movies then you will pick out the main scenes so speech isn't so important unlike Lego Batman where, without dialogue, it was harder to get the humour and storyline. One area where TT Games have hit a home run here is with the use of the now classic, and very catchy, music from the motion pictures. Few would not be able to instantly recognise John Williams' score and it's littered throughout this game.

Even as someone who doesn't like the Harry Potter franchise this game has enough charm and fun built into it that I have to love it. Graphics are slick, audio impressive and both are often very amusing while the gameplay is robust too. If you're a fan of video games and Harry Potter then going out and buying Lego Harry Potter, or at the very least renting, is pretty much a no brainer. A great, fun, release.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThis is probably the best looking game in the Lego franchise to date. Great humour in the visuals too.
SOUNDWith John Williams' classic music and some entertaining effects this game sound great.
GAMEPLAYThis game stays true to a proven formula but one can't help feeling that the 3-player opportunity was a big miss and some new elements should have been introduced. Still it's very fun.
VALUEIt's moderately lengthy, plenty to explore and uncover but no online gameplay disappoints. Will you go back for seconds? I'm not so sure.
OVERALLLego Harry Potter Years 1-4 was a game I wasn't keen on trying due to my general disliking of the franchise, but this is a very entertaining game which fans, and perhaps even those that don't like the movies, will enjoy.

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