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PSP Review – LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4

July 9, 2010Written by Zak Islam

Yet another LEGO game from the long-running LEGO video game developers, Travelers Tales. This time, the LEGO creativity is being harnessed by yet another Harry Potter game. Not your ordinary LEGO Harry Potter game, though. A title which takes the player on Harry’s adventure in Hogwarts from the first 4 books/movies of Harry Potter – all in one game. Exciting, indeed.

Apart from the cute and entertaining cut scenes in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, the gameplay is really where the attention and praise is due. As you play through Harry’s adventure throughout his starting stages of Hogwarts, players will be required to attend classes and learn spells which will get more powerful as you study more. Also, players will gain access to certain areas of Hogwarts as Harry progresses through the years. Better yet, it’s all told and played with LEGOs!

A slew of characters are available in the game with each featuring its own unique abilities, including Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hagrid, and many, many, many more. Each character also holds its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Harry is awesome at broomstick riding (especially in Quidditch) and he is able to perform certain tricks while on it. Ron can use his small pet, Scabbers, to get into areas which are otherwise unreachable and Hermione, thanks to her vast knowledge, is best known and used for casting spells.

The core gameplay mechanics are a joy to play with, as the combination of creativity and imagination is really put to test and due to this, delivers players a thrilling experience. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4’s gameplay revolves mainly on puzzle solving, quests, combat as well as the collection of ‘studs’ which are collectible LEGO bits. During the starting stages of the game, you’ll encounter various puzzles, and it gets much more interactive as you progress.

For example, at one part there’s a cauldron, and seeing that Harry hasn’t been fully trained yet as he comes from the world of the dreaded Muggles (non-magical humans), he’s required to scoop around for ingredients, spiders, etc and then you put them into the cauldron. When all the things you’ve collected are inserted, the cauldron bursts out green goo. In comes Hagrid, where the player can control the walking tree and use his magic abilities to conjure up a device which can clean up the green goo. In doing so, you have created your first puzzle piece.

The game gives you a top-down view and is perfect, especially for the PSP version of the game. Controlling in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 -4 is a stroll in the park, too. Players will have the choice of using either the directional pad or the single analog hub to control the game’s playable characters. An action button is used to do a majority of stuff in the game. These include executing a standard spell attack or exploring the environment surrounding you for items. The PSP’s triggers are put into good use, as well. At times, you’ll have more characters apart from Harry available for use and players can easily switch to them by the PSP’s triggers.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 is, as one could imagine, targeted at a young audience, which clearly shows by the game’s difficulty levels. Once players die or fail a level, you’ll be put back into the same place you were before dying almost immediately which is a major plus for those who can’t stand progressing through a level all over again upon failing or dying (shame on you).

The same praise which was given for the gameplay and other aspects can also, fortunately, be said about the game’s graphical attributes. While LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 may not exactly push the PSP to its visual limits and showcase what the portable device is capable of, it certainly isn’t tough to look at.

Although the cutscenes in the game may sometime suffer from stuttering, there’s no doubting it shows off the visuals. Not only that, though, it also goes a long way in telling Harry’s story throughout his 4 years at Hogwarts. The sound is decent, too, and it’s a relief as it would of been a shame if the sound didn’t complement the above-average graphical qualities of the game. But it doesn’t, so let’s move on, then.

While the nature of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 is somewhat linear, it’s what really makes the game shine. For instance, you may have completed a level and can later return to it in order to posses items and collectibles which, of course, adds to the game’s replayability factor immensely. And that’s one of the positive aspects of the title, replayability.

Sure, a player with an average skill level can complete the game within 12 hours, however, in essence, you’ll put in much more game time if you go back to stages and try to complete everything. The PSP version is perfect for exactly that as if you want a quick and enjoyable gaming experience on the PSP as well as if you’re someone who likes to do everything for hours on end, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 fits perfectly into that category.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 truly captures the magic of Harry Potter combined with the nostalgic fun of LEGO. There’s more than enough to keep players coming back for more, and that’s where the title essentially shines.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Enthralling gameplay on top of tons of replayability

Gorgeous graphics complement decent audio

Adds a touch of quality to the LEGO video game franchise

8 out of 10