Back when first released, it shocked nobody to see that the popular LEGO game series took a spin at bringing its lens to the world of Harry Potter. In fact, it felt like the perfect fit. First released as two separate titles; Years 1-4 and Years 5-7, the newly released LEGO Harry Potter Collection encompasses both games in one neat bundle. With The Crimes of Grindelwald soon to hit cinemas worldwide, it’s a wise business choice on Warner’s part to release this collection, given the surge in popularity. But, is a return to Hogwarts really all that necessary?
Yes, and no. I played both of these titles when originally released and I cant say that I was overly impressed at the time. There’s nothing wrong with the source material, but I couldn’t help but feel as though the game’s years could have been better paced, or indeed, highlight better scenarios from the movie counterparts. Still, it would be somewhat pretty silly of me to go over that in too much detail. These games are years old and for any die-hard fan of both LEGO and Harry Potter, there’s plenty of service on offer here to get the proverbial job done.
For those unaware, these games follow Harry and co. throughout their time at Hogwarts; beginning with the Philosopher’s Stone and culminating with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. My personal reservations to the side, LEGO Harry Potter Collection does just about enough to relay the overall journey of the world’s most popular wizard. That said, if you’re here for the story alone, you’ll breeze through the entire collection in a matter of hours. However, if, like me, you enjoy mopping up max completion, you’ve got a trove to soak up.
Albeit, it feels kind of alien going back to a time in which LEGO games are not voiced, instead consisting of a whole lot of umming and ahing, but it doesn’t at all detract from the charm and allure. Players will follow the same path that the majority of LEGO games have laid out for a number of years now. You’ll complete a set amount of story missions with the ability to revisit each mission via free play; a means in which you can take additional characters back to uncover hidden sections of each area and new secrets. It’s a loop we’ve all been subject to.
Though, for better and for worse, going back to the basics of LEGO shows that there’s still some fun to be found in its simplistic form. The traditional and somewhat classic nature of simply beating up your foes and smashing everything in sight doesn’t wear too thin, if indeed the boss battles remain questionable by today’s LEGO standards. I enjoyed the story for what it is too. Yes, it could have been better, but there’s something surprisingly enticing about taking part in wand dueling, learning all of the spells from the game’s world, and more.
Those of you that have watched the movies and read the books will see all of the world’s iconic characters on show here, with their respective traits and abilities portrayed fairly well. By the time you hit the end game, you’ll have played through and seen the majority of locations, encounters and scenarios from the source material. Though even then, at the story’s end, you’re really only just getting warmed up. Before we continue, I do want to highlight a few technical issues that slightly marred the fluidity of the collection’s run.
Take, for instance, needing to completely reboot the game mid-level because, out of nowhere, your HUD fails to load. I would be willing to forgive this issue if it was isolated, but it wasn’t. Several times did I find myself forcing a reboot because I couldn’t possibly continue without the HUD. It’s impossible to go on at moments like this because you’re unable to swap between characters, which is oftentimes necessary for progression. Unfortunately, simply restarting the level doesn’t seem to alleviate this issue, you need to reboot the entire game.
That means going back to the dashboard, moving through screen after screen, waiting for loading screens and then getting all the way back to the position you were in to begin with. It’s not fun the first time and it’s only massively annoying when it reoccurs. Outside of this, I’ve had the game crash on me once. Then, there’s issues that were present in the original versions, such as getting stuck in the environment and falling into constant death loops. Some more polish and shine would have been nice, that much absolutely goes without saying.
That said, that’s the limit of the game’s faults. If you can overlook that, you’re in for a magical treat. When you’re done with the plot, as aforementioned, there’s still much left to do. There’s all the gold and red bricks to collect, students in peril to save, new characters to unlock and purchase – along with spells, and crests of Hogwarts to seek out. This alone throws the hour-by-hour playtime into double digits, giving you no shortage of things to do throughout the entirety of play. It’s just a shame that there’s little variety as far as that goes.
Don’t get me wrong, LEGO Harry Potter Collection doesn’t skimp on its content, but it certainly does with its depth. The core loop will see you smashing objects, solving overly simple puzzles, and collecting studs. All of that feeds into achieving the collectibles outlined above. Sure, navigating the vast grounds of Hogwarts and its surrounding areas is exciting to begin with, but when you see that each area tasks you little outside of what we’ve just covered, repetition begins to sink in swifter than a dementor on poor Mr. Black’s six.
The bottom line in all of this is that if you’ve played these games before, there’s next to no reason to dive back in unless you absolutely adored them, preferred LEGO games in their bare form, or fancy some achievement hunting. If that’s you, you’ll have some technical issues and poor design choices to contend with, but there’s no denying that you’re getting your money’s worth either way. It helps, of course, that even now, the games hold up on the visual and audio front magnificently well. Though, let’s hope they’re working on Fantastic Beasts now.
The LEGO Harry Potter Collection takes players back to LEGO game basics; before voice overs, before depth, before polish, and before just about everything else that makes the current formula so widely appealing. That said, this collection is well worth a trip if you enjoy the source material. There’s magic, there’s humor, and there’s a lot of fun fan service to soak up here, if little else.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.