Xbox 360 Review: Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4

The Lego franchise enters Hogwarts with surprising results…

Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Batman are classic games in their own right, but now Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 enters the arena. Can the young wizard show us where the games have been going wrong or will he serve up a bad spell?

The Lego games of the past have been focused on a mixture of combat and puzzle solving, but with a bigger emphasis on the combat side of things which became incredibly frustrating at times and were without a doubt, the weaker side of the games. Lego Harry Potter seems to have realised this and instead switched the focus more onto puzzles and making them more accessible for co-op players. There are still the boss battles and whatnot, but it’s nice to be able to just walk around sections without being smashed into smithereens.

There’s sadly no online co-op mode, but 2-player split-screen which is fine…but some of the puzzles are pretty tricky to do without another player, more so than it has been in the past. It’s essentially built for more than one player, which sounds good on paper but it would have been nice to make it a bit easier for the lone wolf gamers around us.

As you would expect, the game follows the story of Harry Potter through his first 4 years at Hogwarts. I’m personally not a fan and know very little about the franchise, so I was a bit lost during cutscenes with the traditional Lego parody humour. But it was still amusing and I don’t doubt that the fans will get a real kick out of it like I did with Star Wars and Indy. The formula of gameplay remains the same for the most part, certain characters can only access specific areas or use certain spells; there are collectables hidden all over and it will take you quite a while to get to 100%.

Each level looks like it’s been carefully planned out and I must admit, it’s perhaps the best Lego game to date in terms of gameplay. I almost hate to say that, but there it is. Visually, the game looks familiar to the Lego games but it still looks good and the framerate holds up well. Music is taken directly from the films and there are only a few grunts and laughs as voice-acting as you would expect.

The Verdict

Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 was a big risk for Warner Bros, especially considering the past Harry Potter games have been mediocre to say the least. Instead this is the best game for both the Harry Potter and Lego franchises…despite a few niggles playing solo, you wont find a better kids game this year.