In celeration of J.K. Rowling’s five part spin-off series, Warner Bros have decided to bring back the classic LEGO Harry Potter adventures for PS4 owners.
And it’s a really welcome return as this collection reminds us of all the great things the series has achieved.
At the same time, it also shows us how far the games have come over the last few years. The Collection encompasses both LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 and LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 and immediately you’ll start to notice some big differences compared to the original games. For starters, the lighting is much more vibrant, which, in turn, makes the colours appear brighter and textures more pronounced. We loved the rain effects in the opening cut-scene and actually being able to see text on both letters and crests instead of blurred pen flicks is genuinely impressive.
To begin with, players assume the roles of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As they progress however, they’ll get to control all sorts of familiar faces like Hagrid, Dumbledore, Snape, and even Dudley Dursley! The players will also gradually learn new spells, so you’ll begin with Wingardium Leviosa and Lumos, but eventually upgrade to Expelliarmus and Divination. You’ll even get to use Parseltongue. The gradual progression of spells is such a great touch that really fits the universe and the gameplay
LEGO Harry Potter lets you wander around Hogwarts, solving all sorts of puzzles, saving students in peril, collecting studs, and finding golden bricks. You’ll do this by destroying parts of the scenery, building new pathways, removing obstacles and crafting potions. As with all LEGO games, you’ll find yourself needing to revisit certain areas to get all the secrets as characters have different abilities and certain spells are needed to reach new areas. For instance, Hagrid is naturally big and strong, whereas only one of the Vault Goblin can unlock safe doors.
And the game is filled with some lovely nods and touches, like Hermione can use a broomstick to fly but she struggles to control it, whereas Harry is a natural aviator.
It’s vintage LEGO, filled with that HP charm. There are also some neat adjustments in gameplay which makes the whole experience feel less linear and more open compared to an Indiana Jones. And the remaster polish really helps the experience stand out. The soundtrack, for example, sounds less muffled and tinny, now crisper and more succinct than ever.
However, I did encounter a few glitches in my playthrough with characters getting stuck on scenery and some occassonal issues prompted by player control. Some of the historical bugs that survived in the original games also seem to have translated across, such as the Dark Tower level which causes a full-game shutdown, and issues finding all of the Students in Peril to get the full 100%.
It does also feel lacking when compared to the more polished recent releases and the lack of voice acting has become noticeably absent. While it was only introduced in LEGO City Undercover and the Lord of the Rings games, not hearing any from a game based on a series of movies actually feels sort of strange. I love the way Traveller’s Tales have interpreted the voice acting in new ways through gestures on screen and adaptations of scenes. This was done to particularly great effect with LEGO The Force Awakens earlier this year. Instead, scenes are filled out with grunts and squeaks using voices that sort of sound similar to the movie counterparts. While this would have been incredibly time consuming and difficult to achieve, I would have loved to hear some of those famous lines added in for effect.
Menu Transition is also unnecessarily tedious and frustrating. In order to switch between games you need to quit your current playthrough to get to the main menu of the game you’re in, then quit to the launcher and make the change there. It feels like an unnecessary extra step to take as you should be able to Quit to Launcher from the game. A minor thing, but it does make the whole experience much less seamless than it could or should be.
Unfortunately, Years 5-7 also still suffers from bad frame rate issues during cut-scenes. To be fair, this was always the case and isn’t a surprise, but to see it still chugging along at times on a PS4 is a little bit galling.
The good thing is that these games are still so much fun and don’t feel dated. Some of the polish and graphical fidelty isn’t up to the standard of LEGO Force Awakens and obviously the voice acting is absent unlike more recent games, but LEGO HP is still extremely enjoyable to play through.
This is an essential package if you’ve somehow managed to miss them last time around, or you just want to dive back in and experience them all over again. Though the price may be a little off-putting as these aren’t drastically evolved over the originals and you can likely find the original 360/PS3/PC versions for a few quid in CEX or on Ebay.
Still, TT have done just the right amount of tinkering so that the games’ stand out with a noticeably fresh lick of paint. They’re no longer the best LEGO games and they’re not perfect, but I’m happy they have their place on current gen and I’m hoping this leads to future LEGO titles in the Harry Potter universe next year.
And maaaaybe, LEGO Lord of the Rings should get the same treatment sometime soon? Wink, wink, hint, hint.
+ Lovely remastering of visual effects
+ Musical score sounds better than ever
+ Plenty of fun things to do which offers good value to money + trophies!
– Historical glitches make unwelcome return
– Lack of any voice acting has become noticeable
– Menu Transition isn’t very user friendly.
– Years 5-7 still suffers from frame rate issues in cut scenes
LEGO Harry Potter Collection
7 out of 10
Platform review on :- PS4