The Wizarding World of Harry Potter initially transformed into its LEGO video game form way back when the Xbox 360 was at its peak, with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and subsequently the release of Years 5-7. Since then, whilst other LEGO adaptations evolved on the latest gen of consoles, the LEGO Harry Potter Collection simply saw both Harry Potter outings bundled together for PlayStation 4 in 2016 and includes all of the previously released DLC. Now, that same collection has arrived on Xbox One, but does it elevate these games to new heights, or should it be hidden under the cloak of invisibility forevermore?
Despite LEGO Harry Potter Collection not being terrible by any means, some games are best left untouched and to be remembered fondly; trying to rekindle the magic of the LEGO Harry Potter titles only highlights how far the LEGO series has come in the years that have passed.
As previously mentioned, the LEGO Harry Potter Collection features LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and the follow-up title dealing with Years 5-7. What this means is that the entire offering covers the Harry Potter films, from the Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets, all the way up to the Half-Blood Prince and the two-part Deathly Hallows. Thus highlighting some of the key moments and adding a dash of LEGO humour to the likes of the bumbling Professor Quirrel interfering with Harry’s important Quidditch match, encountering Moaning Myrtle and the climatic face-off against Lord Voldemort, to pinpoint merely a few.
From the very first moment the iconic music hits your ears, the nostalgia is immediately felt for anyone who remembers the series of films and that only continues throughout. The memories I have came flooding back, especially when roaming the halls of Hogwarts, participating in classes to learn new spells – more on those later – and progressing through the wizardly objectives required to initiate the proper story-themed levels. Those memories must be cherished as it’s likely they’ll be slightly over-shadowed by a ton of back-tracking. You see, there’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in-between the main levels, which although often feature interesting ideas, the traversing through the same old areas in order to get to where you need to be is a pain in the neck.
For the story levels, the routine follows a familiar pattern of needing to overcome some obstacle or puzzle in your way and so you’ll have to make use of everything within that environment. Smashing up items often leads to the discovery of builds and useful stuff like keys, but a lot of the action involves deciding which spells to use at the right time. The infamous Wingardium Leviosa is incredibly helpful for levitating objects, whilst a beam of Lumos will fight back against any Devil’s Snare. There’s also Immobilus for tackling those pesky pixies and obviously Expecto Patronum for eliminating the Dementors. Given that the spells can be acquired after a little tutorial about their usage, it’s easy to figure out which one of the many passive and equipped spells in fit for the job at hand.
Combat isn’t great though and on the rare occasion that you’re being pestered by enemies, firing off shots from the wand is rather inaccurate, if it fires at all. In effect, this means you must hold the attack button to get the cursor up to aim, which is a bit of a slow process and will almost certainly lead to receiving damage. I think that’s why there’s more of a focus on the puzzling aspect where possible, but there can be frustrating instances arising from those too.
That’s mainly due to the finer movements needed when recreating a construction using building blocks. Imagine levitating large LEGO bricks of various sizes and having to fit them into place, ensuring that it looks like the structure pictured, only for a slight push on the analog stick to move a piece far too much in a particular way. Even worse is when it connects to another block incorrectly and won’t come apart, turning a decent puzzle into a chore. They are good ideas when it goes well though as it’s a bit like playing Tetris, whilst other puzzling concepts include the repetition of sequences akin to memory game Simon – a real staple of the genre.
Boss battles are a huge part of any LEGO game and it’s no different in the LEGO Harry Potter Collection as they pop up every so often to provide variety to proceedings. Well, sort of. Too many of them require the player to just be patient and wait for the counter attack, coming across as a bit same-y. But if you can overlook that, there are a few cool set pieces during the fight against the Basilisk and confrontations with Voldemort, which are rather enjoyable.
There’s plenty of content in terms of levels, with even more time to be spent on replaying them using different characters and a ton of Gold Bricks, Character tokens and other collectibles to seek out outside of the story too. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much more of Hogwarts grounds I could withstand after all the back-tracking across both games, however the ability to use other characters helps a tad. The roster isn’t as exciting as the superhero offerings, but if you’ve seen them in the films, they’re probably here and if you’re a big fan of Harry, Ron and Hermione, there are numerous variations to acquire. Having a selection of generic boys and girls in different House uniforms is a crafty manoeuvre to bolster the numbers though.
On the visual front it depends on which of the two games you’re playing as to whether there’s disappointment. Years 1-4 suffers the most from bland visuals, a lack of texture and characters that barely resemble their film counter-parts. Everything’s a bit more refined in Years 5-7, with the locations especially making a decent impression – whether that’s just returning to Hogwarts or the new parts in London, it looks far better instantly. The audio department is hard to judge because it’s mostly full of moans, groans and giggling sounds, with no voiceovers whatsoever to aid in storytelling.
Overall, LEGO Harry Potter Collection brings a whole load of story to the table and the magical nature ensures it stands out, with a really great selection of spells to wield. Aside from a few puzzle concepts, there’s not much in terms of core elements that you won’t have seen built upon in the years since the games originally released, but fun can still be had in this world of wizards. The downside is that the mechanics feel out of date, with little glitches putting a slight damper on things, whilst visually, half of it doesn’t hold up well at all.
Did we really need the LEGO Harry Potter Collection? No. Is it worth giving it a look and taking a trip down memory lane? Sure, why not… but the cheaper option of buying the originals is also a viable option.