Monday 12 November 2018

LEGO Harry Potter Collection ★★★☆☆

When I reviewed Lego DC Supervillains, I told you guys all about the undue shame I feel about having so much love for the Lego video games series. I’m a huge fan of a game studio that remembers the meaning of ‘fun’, and resists the temptation to overdesign and over complicate their games. Too commonly do recent releases collapse under the weight of their own features and ‘improvements’. One of the biggest trends in this bracket right now is Remasters, adding erroneous and unrequired features to old games in order to justify a new-game price tag once they’ve finished souping up the graphics.

I played the first Lego Harry Potter game, and I remember loving it. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and have been since reading the books as a kid, and have followed every part of the franchise. There was no voice acting in Lego games yet, but the visual comedy made it easy to remember the exact scene from the film they were replicating. However, if I’m being frankly honest, coming to this game fresh of playing Lego DC Supervillains, this collection is absolutely showing its age. There are very few if any updates to the mechanics or playstyle, and even the graphics don’t look that much more impressive than they used to - they’re definitely not as polished as Lego DC Supervillains. When a remaster is announced, it’s every cynic’s first thought that they’ll do nothing but update the controls for a new system - and it kind of feels like that might be true about Lego Harry Potter. 

As with all Lego games, if you’re buying this for a younger gamer, they’ll absolutely love it and all of these criticisms are moot. The game is full of nostalgic throwbacks to the movies, and this collection covers all 8 of them. If you’ve played one of these Lego games by Traveller’s Tales before, then the mechanics will feel incredibly familiar. Button-mash the single attack command to clear out an area of enemies, before smashing open the environment to collect all of the shimmering little tokens that burst out of them, drop in multiplayer, infinite lives - it’s risk free, it’s easy and it’s destined to be fun if you let it. The character roster is enormous (there are hundreds) and there are a variety of spells to unlock to keep the gameplay fresh. As you unlock new spells you can return to previously explored levels to unlock new areas, which again will sound very familiar if you’re a veteran of these games.

There’s very little wrong with this game, but I just found it reminding me how far these Lego games have come. When a game like Lego DC Supervillains makes such fantastic use of voice talent, it reminds me that although the physical comedy of the old Traveller’s Tales games was great, it was probably done out of necessity, not preference, by the developers. Being a full collection of all levels from both games means there’s also an insane amount of play hours here. You will absolutely get your money’s worth for it. It’s also affordable, which is especially notable as the game has been released for Xbox One and Switch long after it was already available for the PS4. To give it a ‘New Game’ price tag would have been pretty insulting. 

Final verdict? This was a great game when it was released, and it’s a decent game now. Harry Potter fans will love it, and there’s hours upon hours of play time available too. The huge character roster covers even the most obscure Harry Potter pals and is hugely satisfying to fully unlock, but fans of more hardcore gaming and outright Harry Potter haters might not look upon it with the same rose-tinted glasses. 

Jake Turnbull

LEGO Harry Potter Collection at CeX

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