It might be mainly for fans, but Harry's second LEGO outing is very well done.
The LEGO games get routinely knocked for being very similar. For the most part, the complaint is valid; you go around in a familiar world remade in Danish blocks while collecting an absurd amount of studs and unlocking oodles of characters that are minutely different. LEGO Harry Potter’s second outing, and first on 3DS, does little to change that basic mechanic. However, the game’s clever puzzles and smart use of the Potter license separate it from the perceived monotony of the series.
At face value, this isn’t too different from last year’s LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, but the pace of the sequel is much better, centering more on focused puzzles as opposed to the somewhat broader exploratory nature of the original. It also helps that the last three books in the series are considerably more action-packed than the first four.
The sequel also eschews the previous game’s focus on touch screen controls. In this game, the touch screen is primarily used as an options screen, only being used actively as an optional method for the game’s duels. You use the Circle Pad or D-pad to control your character, and the face buttons to control jumping, spell casting, and more. Spells can be fired quickly with a tap of a button, or charged up by holding it down. It’s easy to control, and only falls apart when you’re in combat with a lot of enemies on screen, since the camera can be unfriendly.
Combat is bettered by the duels, which are simple but fun. They are one-on-one affairs where you shoot a spell, which can be charged, to the left or right while deflecting your opponent’s spells. It can occasionally be broken, unfortunately, as you can just shoot spells rapidly at one side until your foe misses a block and lets one by. The duels play well with the license, especially when you get supremely epic match-ups like Dumbledore vs. Voldemort and the series’ ultimate fight: Harry vs. Voldemort.
The puzzles throughout usually devolve into small collectathons, but there is a certain charm to the proceedings that make it not feel repetitive. The game does a good job of letting you play as a variety of characters, and the individual puzzles highlight each one’s special abilities. For example, the Weasley twins can use a wide variety of their prank toys, while Luna Lovegood uses Spectrescopes to see hidden blocks.
You also cover a lot of locales taken from the movies, which will likely make most every Potter fan smile. The LEGO series humor is also present, even when main characters drop off like flies. It’s honestly kind of messed up, but it’s entertaining in an odd way. The books, split up like the movies (the final book is broken up into two parts), contain a few chapters that are divvied up into several levels each. All in all, a full playthrough will take you around seven or eight hours, and if you’re into collecting all the characters, there is a lot more content.
While LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is really only for fans of the series, it is a very good game. Unfortunately, that’s not a quality that transcends the license, much like every LEGO game ever. If you’re into Harry Potter, the wizard’s 3DS debut is well worth a purchase. If not? Well, maybe the next LEGO series will be one that you like.
Note: The 3DS version appears to be a 3D-enhanced port of the DS version of the game.