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PS3 Game Review

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4


Format: PS3
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
RRP: £44.99
5 051892 011334
Age Restrictions: 7+
Available 25 June 2010

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 combines two of the most beloved franchises to deliver a magical, fun-filled adventure. Based on Harry’s first four books and films - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - fans can experience Harry’s first four years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a new an exciting way. Players will build the adventure from Privet Drive to the Triwizard Tournament in an interactive journey that takes them through some of the most detailed and expansive environments ever created for a LEGO game. Featuring potion-making, spell-casting, puzzle-solving, and more, players of all ages can relive the adventures like never before with the humour and creative customisation that is unique to LEGO video games...

For fans of the LEGO range of games (which include LEGO Star Wars; LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy; LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures; and LEGO Batman: The Video game) comes the latest offering in the form of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.

The game is a huge leap forward in terms of animation and storytelling. The four chapters to the game take place inside Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You start the game playing as Harry and Rubeus Hagrid, but it's not long before you can switch between Harry, Ron and Hermione. These are the central three characters (although new playable characters come and go) and each has their own special ability that the others can't master (Harry can control a flying broomstick; Ron can control rodents; and Hermione has a magic book that lets her translate cryptic puzzles) and as you progress through the game you attended classes which teach you new spells. These help you unlock other areas of Hogwarts.

What's great about this game is that all though you're pretty much given free reign to roam around the rooms to help you to know where you have to go to complete the next part of the game a ghostly figure, ghostly lego studs and a ghostly arrow all point you in the correct direction so that it's impossible to get lost.

There are so many neat little touches and interesting ideas that it's hard to know where to start. I particularly liked one room in which a mirror plays an interesting role. To be honest I was just in awe of how impressive the mirror reflection looked. Now this is sad, I know, but I was trying to think of any other game in which a mirror was used to such an effect... and I couldn't. But you can also interact with paintings, in which the people are alive; pick up different coloured lego pieces and place them together to form structures to allow you to reach higher areas; or smash glass objects using a screaming Mandrake.

There are the trademark animated cut scenes which have become familiar to fans of this gaming series. Here key scenes from the movies are reenacted and given a LEGO twist to create some amusing links between the levels. This game appears to have more cut sequences than any previously in the franchise. They help to move the story along, as well as letting you know (if you're familiar with the movies) how far through the game you are.

Each of the four years ends with you confronting a boss and once you defeat that the credits role. Now, after playing the first game some people may think that's all there is to it and so will be pleased to learn there are another three chapters. I have to admit that after two days of playing I'm only just part way into the third game. And I can see that once I've finished it I'll be compelled to go back again and find all the gold bricks and other special items that you can unlock.

When you finish one of the four parts of the game you are sent back to The Leaky Cauldron pub. From here you can either enter free play mode, carry on with the next part of the game or venture out into Diagon Alley where a number of shops are available to you. These offer you the chance to buy different outfits, customise your own character and unlock plenty of other additional content including cut sequences you've already seen. In addition if you head off to the bank you can play mini games as well as learn how to create your own LEGO Harry Potter level.

One of the major issues from the previous games has also been addressed - the dodgy camera angles. While you can still move the camera, you can't move it much, and this helps to keep everything focused on where the developers intended the game play to be. I was originally concerned that there was no option to alter the vertical controls for the camera (flipping up and down) but to be honest I hardly used this aspect at all.

The game also benefits from the use of John Williams music from the movies.

The only slight complaints I had were that on some of the levels the screen seems to flicker for no good reason - but that was about the only think I could find to fault this extremely enjoyable game.

So yet another impressive LEGO offering. This is yet another game that can be enjoyed by the very young and the very old. If you're a fan of Harry Potter you really can't afford not to have this game in your collection.


Darren Rea

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