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Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 Review: A Worthy Sequel

There’s probably few gamers out there who haven’t heard of the LEGO Games from Traveler’s Tales, and even fewer who aren’t at least familiar with the Harry Potter franchise. So I’ll skip the long introductions and dive right into my review of LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 , the sequel to 2010’s LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4. It’s a worthy follow-up to the original.

There’s plenty to love in this sequel, which continues to demonstrate why the LEGO games are so much fun. Like the console version that released before Chirstmas, LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 covers the last four movies in the film series (Order of the Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince, and both parts of The Deathly Hallows). And like its predecessor, Years 5-7 is packed with plenty of humor, exploratory play, simple puzzle-solving, and so many collectables that you’ll go crazy trying to find every one.

The style has advanced from the first game, which was a port of a Nintendo DS. This time, they’ve ported from the 3DS game, and it feels a bit more touch-screen friendly. It also means levels that are not quite as expansive as the console version; instead, it’s smaller areas with more pointed goals and plenty of save points in between. This is better for pocket gaming, though a step down from the console experience.

Within each level, you must collect studs to become a “True Wizard”; find hidden pieces to build objects; complete potions by finding ingredients; occasionally defeat enemies with spells; track down Red Bricks, Golden Wizard Hats, and unlockable new characters; and puzzle-solve your way through to the end of each area. In other words, everything you’d expect from a LEGO game. There’s never nothing to do on a level! Like the console games, there’s both Story Mode (your first play through) and Free Play (every other time you go to a level), and you’ll have to play multiple times to get to 100% completion.The Hub world is the main foyer of Hogwarts Castle, and there are things to do here, too.

I did find that the last four Harry Potter movies translated less effortlessly into levels than the first four did. This isn’t surprising, as the last four movies became darker and less linear, and TT did about as fine a job as one could expect with  them. It does mean that you already have to know the movies to really follow the story, though, and some of the setting shifts between, or even within, levels can be jarring.

One feature of Years 5-7 that is new is the IAP Dueling Club. For 99 cents you unlock a dueling minigame that contains some additional characters to unlock. It’s non-essential to the game, unless you’re a completest, in which case it’s annoying that they stuck in an additional purchase to complete everything.

One significant issue I have with this game is in the controls. The virtual joystick, as it was in the first game, is still an iffy proposition. The 3/4 visual nature of the game means that there are plenty of jumps at odd angles, and the joystick does nothing to help with precision and aim. [Camera angle sometimes got in the way too, especially with the smaller levels.] Also, aiming spells at specific targets was a pain! I was more forgiving of loose controls in 2010, but this is 2012; people have got to sort out these things better.

Also, while the game is Universal, it really struggled on my iPad 1. the graphics quality degraded significantly over my iPhone 4S, and the game tended to crash occasionally. There is a warning at the beginning of the game to close down other apps before playing, but I almost wish they’d just limit it to more powerful devices. I can’t even imagine how this runs on an iPhone 3GS or a 3rd Gen iPod.

I’m glad that Warner Brothers and Traveler’s Tales chose to release LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 to iOS, and I hope it’s a sign of more LEGO games to come. I would love to see LEGO Batman, LEGO Star Wars, or even straight LEGO properties like CITY or KINGDOMS make their way to the platform.

Our Score: 4 out of 5.

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