LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 Review

Title: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Developer: Warning Bros Interactive
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.1 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail

As you can tell, from our reviews, playing the games, and reading articles and reviews on other sites, the PlayStation Vita has access to a good number of LEGO games, and there is an interesting relationship between this system and those games.  As of right now, the Vita has access to six Lego games, along with the upcoming Lego The Hobbit game that is due for release in a little more than a month.  But Vita users have reason both to anticipate or dread the release of new LEGO games or playing older games.

As it stands, there are certain differences between handheld LEGO games and home console LEGO games.  If you take a look at LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and The LEGO Movie Videogame, the entire style is different.  However, that was not always the case with LEGO games.  Earlier games of this type on the Vita played very much like the console version, like LEGO Lord of the Rings.  It wasn’t the only one, either.

Let’s go back to the origins of LEGO games on the Vita.  Back before the release of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Batman 2, Lord of the Rings, The Movie, and Lord of the Rings, there was a single game that brought the series to the Vita.  That game was the second and final Lego game set in the Harry Potter universe.  Just how did the LEGO series start for this portable powerhouse?  Let’s find out.  Here is our official review of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 for the PlayStation Vita.

Story

The Story of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is pretty simple to follow if you’re a fan of Harry Potter.  The games follow the story that both the books and movies presented for the second half of the franchise.  This game follows the events shown in the movies Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood-Prince, and the two movies of The Deathly Hallows.  If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then you already know the general gist of what’s going on.

To be short, it follows young wizard Harry Potter as he attends school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, trying to hone his skills as nefarious schemes are being made in the background, both by the Ministry of Magic and the dark lord that he once banished when he was but a baby.  He and his friends go through the journey of life as friends pass away and a Dark War returns to the world, and they fight to stop it.

The story is mostly implied in this game.  This was made before LEGO games featured voice-acting.  When you’re playing through this game, you will see cutscenes, but the voices will be more just sounds and funny expressions as the scenes play out.  It is highly suggested you already have seen the movies or read the books before tackling this game to enjoy.

Gameplay

The gameplay is, without a doubt, the most important part of a review for a LEGO handheld game.  This is because, as of late, TT Games is changing how the handheld versions of their games play.  LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and The LEGO Movie Videogame incorporate a very different type of gameplay than their PS3 and PS4 counterparts.  They feature a more simplified top-down perspective and divided the levels into shorter stages, likely to help give the games a “pick up and play” feel for being portable.  This also led the handheld version to be priced lower than the home console versions.

Many people are okay with this, but a lot of people are not.  Some want the handheld games to play exactly like the home console releases and it seems like TT Games is just going with this new method with their new games.  However, the older LEGO games are a different story.  LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 does not play like those games do.  In fact, when you play it, it will feel just like the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

When you go into the game, it plays out like the older LEGO games, like LEGO Star Wars.  You have a Home Base, where you can change your character and explore, and then go into each chapter of the game, as well as replaying chapters after you have cleared them to be able to unlock more content.  This was before the games on consoles switched to Open World gameplay, like LEGO Lord of the Rings.  I would compare it directly with LEGO Star Wars, if I had to choose any game that is similar to how it plays out.

Once you get into a stage/level, you have a two-character party (and more later on) and are to defeat enemies, collect studs, and solve puzzles to progress to the next area.  This is where the gameplay really shows that this plays like the home console release.  There is no overhead view, you’re allowed to jump, and whatnot.  The levels in this game are exactly the same as they are in the PlayStation 3 version of the game, as are the puzzles in each one.

You are equipped with a wand and use that to traverse areas.  You learn new spells as you progress through the game and you must use certain spells to get past certain objectives.  For example, you can only destroy large objections with the Reducto spell.  You can also only defeat Dementor enemies with Patronus, just like in the movies.  There are also character-specific obstacles, like sections where Hermione needs to pull something specific out of her magical bag, or you’ll need a character’s pet to traverse a tight corridor for you.

Although not unique to this version of the game, Harry Potter also features Duels.  Most of the time, when you reach Boss Fights, they will have sections with you running around the area, fighting them, but also in Duels.  These Duels have you standing in front of the enemy and you constantly firing spells off and deflecting incoming spells until one character loses.  These are plentiful and a fun way of tackling boss fights.

That’s not to say it’s not exactly the same, though.  Some of the levels have what are called the Weasley Boxes.  These boxes contain specific items for traversing certain types of terrain.  These were not present in the home console version of the game, so that adds a little bit of uniqueness to this version of the game.

The exclusive features of this game are nice, but there is also a point that I need to address.  If you recall, when we reviewed LEGO The Lord of the Rings, we had a negative point to show, that the game was incomplete.  As I played through LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 and compared it with the home console release, I realized that TT Games did the same thing with this game.  If you haven’t played the PS3 version of the game, it won’t bother you.  But if you have, it will.  There is content missing.  Several levels and scenes were taken out of the game when it was being ported over to the PS Vita.

The game is definitely fun to play, if you’re a LEGO and Harry Potter fan, but the fact that they ported this over and removed a bunch of content from the game makes it feel like they released it as an incomplete project.

Controls

Controlling LEGO Harry Potter is pretty simple and is similar to other LEGO games.  You will definitely not be using all of the buttons on the VITA for the game, nor will you be forced to use the touchscreen.  So, if you don’t like touch controls, then you’re going to be pretty happy with how this game plays out.  Note that the Title Screen does say “Touch to Start”, you can just as easily get into the menu with the Start button or X Button.

Movement is done with the Left Analog Stick.  Unfortunately the camera doesn’t really move, so you won’t be using the Right Analog Stick as you play through this game.  As far as the Face Buttons are concerned, you will be using the X button to jump, the Circle Button to assembling LEGO pieces into structures, the Square Button to fire off a spell, and the Triangle button to switch Characters as well as interact with objects, like vehicles.

The Start and Select button aren’t used for much, other than accessing the menu.  The L and R buttons are also used in this game.  You will use those buttons to cycle through your available spells and abilities to get to one that is appropriate for what you are currently trying to solve or get past.

It’s not an incredibly hard control scheme to get used to.  If you’ve played any LEGO games on the PlayStation 3, then it will already be comfortable for you.  If not, then it may take a bit of time to get used to.

Presentation

As far as how the game looks and plays, there are some ups and downs.  From a visual standpoint, the game looks good.  Each individual piece of this Harry Potter world made into LEGO pieces looks good.  The models are detailed and, while there are some jagged edges here and there, it looks pretty dark good, overall.  It’s not as smooth as the PS3 version of the game, but it looks good, especially on the smaller screen.

The Load Times for the games are fair.  You may be waiting a good 10-20 seconds for a level to load, but the transitions between areas once you get into those levels are pretty short, only lasting a couple seconds.  For the most part, Load Times shouldn’t be too bothersome.

However, there is one thing I noticed that can prove to be very bothersome.  This did not happen often, and didn’t happen more than once in the same area, but the framerate glitched a few times when we played this game.  Every once in awhile, the framerate would suddenly change and drop considerably.  We would just be playing and, all of a sudden, there would be lag and slowdown all over the place that lasted either until we finished the level or restarted the game and reloaded the save file.  This didn’t happen often, but it did pop up three or four times during our first time through the game.  It was a nuisance, for sure.

Overall

If you’re a Harry Potter fan and want a good game on the go, we won’t say this game is a bad choice.  As far as a portable Harry Potter game goes, it is enjoyable.  However, due to a lot of content being removed from the game as well as the framerate glitching out every so often, we cannot recommend this as an excellent PlayStation Vita title.  This feels like a work-in-progress, just like the Vita LEGO Lord of the Rings.  If you’re a fan and want a handheld version, go for it.  But if not, I would definitely wait until it goes on sale pretty low.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 a 5/10

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