Review: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Vita)

Developer: Traveller’s Tales | Year: 2012 | List Price: $19.99 | Buy from Amazon

HPVITAWay back in the dark ages, one of the first videogame reviews I did was on LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. It was super short and didn’t really tell you much about what I thought about the game, but you can see it here if you like. Anyway, I was looking for some shorter, cheaper games for Vita the other day, and decided to give the sequel a try. I knew it would be a downgrade as compared to the first LEGO Harry Potter game, which I’d played on Mac. It is, however, still a good game to have on the go, if a little kid-targeted and easy.

If you’ve never played a LEGO game, it’s a simplistic puzzle platformer that takes place in the world of LEGO. The games are often themed to a specific LEGO franchise, and as you can probably guess, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 follows our chums Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they work to defeat Lord Voldemort. The story is told in unvoiced cutscenes that you probably wouldn’t understand if you hadn’t seen the movies or read the books, but which are undeniably cute and comedic.

The Vita version seems pretty robust and clean from start to finish apart for two exceptions. The first is the cutscenes: If I’m not wrong, these are either taken straight from the PSP or 3DS versions of the game. In any case, they’re not optimised for Vita, and though they’re still colourful and funny, they’re a little unsightly. Secondly, and more worryingly, I found that the game lagged on some occasions to an unplayable extent. I couldn’t find any other people who had this problem on the internet, but it happened on both my Vita and my brother’s. I have a theory as to why this happens: When you boot up the game, it disables the network connection, presumably to increase framerate. If you suspend the game and reconnect to the internet (for example, to check your trophies) before reentering the game, it’ll lag until you quit and restart it. It’s kind of annoying, but not gamebreaking, and for the most part, Years 5-7 runs well on the Vita.

As for the gameplay, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 remains enjoyable and fun for all of its 5+ hour campaign. Yes, the puzzles are usually quite easy and the combat is simplistic, and maybe it’s because I’m such a big Harry Potter fan to begin with, but I never felt bored during any of the story levels. If there’s a real gripe I have with the level design, it’s that the levels are quite long, often covering up to a third of a movie. This makes the game just a little less bite-sized, and you’ll have to set aside a good 1/2 hour to complete any given level.

Ultimately though, I would recommend LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 to anyone who’s a fan of LEGO games, who loves Harry Potter, or who’s looking for a good game to play with kids. The Vita version is quite scaled-down compared to the console and computer versions from what I’ve seen, but it’s still a really good game.

Design: 8/10 The game follows the last half of Harry Potter’s story, but you probably wouldn’t understand what you’re doing if you didn’t read the books or watch the movies. If you are familiar with the world of Harry Potter, though, you’ll enjoy playing through your favourite locations such as Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic, and Hogsmeade.

Visuals: 7/10 The game looks great most of the time, but it doesn’t really show off the Vita’s capabilities. Cutscenes aren’t optimised for the Vita’s resolution, but luckily many story events are actually illustrated through the in-game engine, which is robust.

Sound: 8/10 As far as I can tell, this is the soundtrack from the Harry Potter movies. It’s all good, but, of course, nothing new. There’s no voice acting, but the game doesn’t feel like it really needs it.

Gameplay: 8/10 Again, nothing really new if you’ve played LEGO games, though there’s a Duelling Club where you can face off against your favourite characters. The combat is rudimentary, but the puzzles are interesting enough and the game is an overall fun experience.

Value: 7/10 The game runs for about $20 normally, though I got it from Amazon for $15. 6 hours should get you through the main quest, and it only took me 14 hours to get the Platinum, so it’s not exactly a long game, but it’s worth trying if you enjoy LEGO gameplay.

Total: 38/50 (C)

List Price: $19.99 | Buy from Amazon

Have you played LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!

I’m almost done Borderlands 2 (serious this time, I have one main story mission left!) so that’ll probably be the next review I do. I’ve also put off Suikoden II to play the first Suikoden game first, but as you know, those are longer games, so their reviews won’t be imminent. There’s a sale going on right now on the PSN, where a lot of JRPGs and other goodies are less than $10, so I snagged Final Fantasy IX and LittleBigPlanet Vita. Thinking about getting Final Fantasy IV as well, any thoughts? I don’t actually even know where I’ll even find the time to play all these games, but it’s nice to have them, I guess!

For now, why not check out our other videogame reviews and articles here, and see an always-up-to-date ranking of all my favourite games of all time.

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