LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
(Action-adventure)Notes: Controller highly recommended! This is my first LEGO PC game. GINORMOUS spider warning!
Options include fully-mappable controls, resolution from 800x600 to 1920x1080, and a variety of quality settings for graphics and effects.
As someone who'd never played a LEGO PC game before, I found gameplay to be a bit confusing and overwhelming at first. The key is to explore, interact with and/or destroy everything you possibly can, and collect every coin (aka stud) you see, as you'll need them for purchases later.
There is no speech in the game - everything is communicated via tone of voice ("Uh?" "Uh!") and character actions. The LEGO HP games are based upon the movies, from the Fat Lady trying to break a crystal glass with her voice to the movie soundtrack. I have both listened to the whole series of audio books (Jim Dale is an AMAZING narrator!) and watched all of the movies, so I am pretty knowledgeable about the world of Harry Potter. I'm really not sure that these games would be as enjoyable for someone who isn't familiar with the stories, and they are of course FULL of spoilers!
There are six chapters per "year", for a total of 24 levels to play. Once you finish a chapter, you can replay it by going to the glowing board in The Leaky Cauldron (your home base, so to speak), and choosing it from the list. You will NEED to replay chapters in Free Play mode in order to get all of the collectibles, as you'll need alternate characters that you won't be able to unlock until later in the game.
There is also all of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Nocturn Alley, and Gringotts to explore outside of the story levels.
Cutscenes can be skipped once you've seen them the first time.Spells and Abilities:
Your characters will learn a variety of spells as you progress, and though you can manually switch between spells, I recommend leaving it on "pink" (Wingardium Leviosa aka levitation) at all times. First of all, your characters will automatically used the spell you need most of the time, and it's too easy to miss things that you need to interact with if you have any other spell selected. Leaving it on pink will
make a pink halo appear around anything you can use Leviosa on, which will save you a lot of frustration later.
A lot of characters have their own special ability, so you'll need to switch between characters often. A few examples: Hagrid is very strong, Hermione and Ron have pets that can interact with the environment in their own way, Harry has the invisibility cloak, goblins have keys, dark wizards are the only ones who can interact with items that have red sparkles around them, Hermione can use the time-turner, sometimes you'll need to be a Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin to get past certain blockades... (Hello polyjuice potion!)Collectibles:
- 167 character tokens (you'll have to purchase the ability to use them once you find the tokens)
- 200 gold bricks
- 50 students in peril
- True Wizard (collect a specified amount of studs in each story level, which will earn you an extra gold brick)
- 20 red bricks (allows you to purchase abilities/bonuses. Pause the game, select Extras, then turn on the ones you want to use)
- 24 Hogwarts crests, each consisting of four pieces: Red (Gryffindor), Blue (Ravenclaw), Green (Slytherin), and Yellow (Hufflepuff)
- Spells to purchase at Wiseacres Wizarding Supplies (love that one that makes the person you hit turn into a human slug)
Besides being a completionist, there are several other reasons to be collecting gold bricks:
- Build special items in the basement of The Leaky Cauldron - one for each "year"
- Unlock vaults in Gringotts, which gives you access to challenge levels, which in turn earns you another gold brick
- Unlock an extra level in Borgen & Burkes (have to have collected all 200 bricks!)
The red bricks I mentioned above allow you to purchase some great abilities, such as stud multipliers, brick detectors, token detector, fall rescue (so helpful!), and more. You can go to Wiseacres Wizarding Supplies and enter a cheat code to get these abilities if you haven't found the red brick/purchased it yet, but I personally did it all the hard way... I didn't even know how to turn the abilities on until after I finished the game
All in all, LEGO Harry Potter is a beautifully-done tribute to the world JK Rowling created, and Hogwarts was a true pleasure to explore. There was a strong sense nostalgia with the familiar locations and the movies' music, but it was still fresh due to the way the stories needed to be adjusted to make the gameplay interesting. I had no technical difficulties (unless you count the THREE items I cannot find to get my 100% completion, which is really a user-error), and I really had a lot of fun. Absolutely recommended.