The first LEGO Harry Potter game has a special place in my heart. It was the first retail game that I ever got 100% of the achievements for. When the second game came out, I knew I’d probably be playing it just as obsessively to get every achievement.
As I mentioned when I reviewed LEGO Star Wars III, every LEGO game tends to be pretty similar to all the others. If you’ve played one, you know how to play all the others pretty much. The only thing that really differs is abilities. LEGO Harry Potter has a big focus on spells, and most characters can use the same spells, with few exceptions.
As with the books and movies before them, the second LEGO Harry Potter game takes a darker turn. That’s not to say that the usual humor isn’t there, but there are some definite sad parts, as anyone who has had previous exposure to the series will tell you. I won’t spoil too much, but people die. Sure, it’s done in a humorous way, but if you really think about what’s going on with these characters, it’s horribly sad.
I was amazed at the size of the game. It’s very easy to get lost in Hogwarts, particularly after you’ve beaten the game and your ghostly guide isn’t taking you from room-to-room anymore. And you’ll need to explore every nook and cranny because there are a lot of collectibles this time around.
Gone are minikits and, in their place, are character tokens. 200 of them, in fact. And you can’t use any new characters until you find their tokens, unlike in previous games where you would unlock characters as soon as you used them in a level. This proved to be the most irksome part of the game for me, because it’s often really difficult to find some of them. I spent 2 days trying to find a character that could use a key (there are only 3 and they cannot be obtained until you have at least one Dark Magic user).
200 characters seems like a lot, but quite a few of them are different variations of the same character. Harry alone has 6 or 7, not including his default that unlocks at the beginning of the game. But even with all the variations, everyone’s favorites are more than likely there, since there are a lot of obscure characters included. Unfortunately, there is not a single “19 Years Later” character, nor can you play as the kids of the students.
Also new this time around are wizard duels. They’re actually kind of annoying and really feel like they break up the action. Basically, you and the wizard that you’re dueling stand in a circle. You have to fire a spell at your opponent that matches the color spell they’re going to throw at you, than mash a button to win that round of the duel. The first person to lose all their hearts loses. If that’s you, you have to start the duel over from the beginning.
It’s kind of sad saying goodbye to Hogwarts. Out of all the LEGO games, the Harry Potter series is definitely my favorite, even more than Star Wars (which is saying something, coming from the woman whose bedroom is covered in LEGO Star Wars kits). This game was definitely a great sendoff for the series, though. Unfortunately, once you get all the achievements, the replay value does take a bit of a dive, but until you do, it’s a fun ride.