LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 takes a lighter look on this increasingly dark series fusing the childlike innocence of the LEGO universe with the dark and imaginative world of Harry potter which in turn leads to a game that will suck you into its world before you have even realised you are in it. The beautiful backdrops and colourful LEGO characters will engage you in the game in a way you never thought were possible.
You were probably like me the first time you heard that LEGO were going to make a game based on such a massive franchise like Star Wars, thinking this is going to result in chopping such an iconic series down into a child friendly world devoid of any magic found in the original universe. However they pulled it off and found it a fantastically enjoyable game that captured the magic of the universe perfectly. That's enough about Star Wars now though so let's get down to the real matter at hand here LEGO Harry Potter.
As I sat there waiting for the game to install to my HDD I was actually feeling an anticipation that I hadn't felt for a game in quite a while the reason for this being that I am a massive Fan of the Harry Potter series ever since that first book hit the shelves I remember queuing outside of Whsmiths at midnight in order to get my hands on the final book and had finished it by the next day. Sadly however I could never get into the official games due to them being based on the films which I feel ruin the magic of the books by turning harry Potter into some Hollywood action movie as opposed to the children's book that it originally meant to be. This is why I was excited for a LEGO version of the game and right from the first Chapter in Diagon Alley I can see that Tell Tale has captured the childhood fun and innocence that JK Rowling first envisioned as she put pen to paper.
Let's start by looking at the characters; all your favourites from the first 4 books are there from Dumbledore with his big white beard and wise old look to the giant Hagrid who oddly enough in LEGO is only 2 inches taller than Harry. The main characters are of course the major focus of the game with you being able to control Harry, Ron and Hermione throughout the entire game and are all captured perfectly with Harry being courageous and selfless, Ron being funny and a little quirk and clever Hermione keeping them both in line.
The environments are also beautifully imagined and this is where you really start to become absorbed without realising it. Hogwarts castle is as huge as it is small with each section of the castle broken down in small areas for you to explore and the game encourages exploration in a big way with a lot of collectibles to be had from new characters to Red and Gold bricks and this is where you can easily get immersed. One of the house ghosts will lead you around the castle to your next objective so you can easily speed through the game if you wish however you will find yourself becoming side tracked quickly by a side passageway or painting that can be opened. I was on my way to one of the lessons towards the start of the game when I came to an outside area which was full of moveable and breakable objects I started destroying an building different things finding hidden collectables and saving characters as I went and before I realised what was going on I looked at the clock and discovered I had spent almost 3 quarters of an hour in this area and there was still more I wanted to do so I went ahead and spent a bit longer there because I was having fun and that's what gaming is all about.
A major thing that I loved about LEGO Harry Potter is the inclusion of a drop in drop out couch co-op mode now I didn't think I would use this mode as my brother isn't really a gamer however while I was playing he came in and asked what I was playing when I told him it was Harry potter he wanted to have a go so he picked up a pad and we started some multiplayer madness and it was madness there was bricks and coins everywhere and we both had an incredible amount of fun and spent a good few hours playing before we realised just how long it had been. This mode is highly recommended if you have a family member who likes gaming or Harry Potter in general as it's so easy to get into with little or no gaming experience.
My only issue with the game has to come with how cut down the story is which in my opinion really hurt the whole immersive feel that they had worked so hard to create. Major plot points in the story had been cut down to a mere 20 seconds of a cutscene which I realise was so people could get straight into the action but for a player like me who enjoys a games story especially the story of Harry Potter felt it really damaged the overall game and when Tell Tale make the second game I hope they spend a little more time portraying the story to make this a truly lovable game.
Graphics - 8/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 7/10
Fun Factor - 9/10
Total - 8/10