5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 - PC (Video Game)
It's a shame this game is so buggy. You can tell the developers put a lot of love into it, and it's truly the best Potter game that's come out. The bugs aren't impossible to work around, but there's no way to play through and not get frustrated by them. (I will describe how I got around them at the end of the review.)
The games EA made based on the Harry Potter series were simplistic, and while running around Hogwarts was fun, I could never help but feel like EA tried to shoehorn the magical world into a cliched gaming shell, filled with platform jumping and shooting generic enemies. This game isn't like that. There are humorous and clever touches throughout; the cut scenes always poke fun at the films, and Hogwarts itself comes to life in the details. During Harry's second year, for example, you'll see Colin Creevey in the halls snapping pictures with his camera; during his fourth, you'll run into Rita Skeeter and numerous Beauxbatons and Durmstrangs. They're not pointed out. They're just there, as nods to the fans.
I also think the Lego building dimension adds a lot to the game. While you'll be using the same spells over and over again (particularly Wingardium Leviosa), it's fun to see what the developers have come up with each time you get to hitting the buttons. You'll ride a flying pumpkin, watch dancing skeletons, and build a giant mouse trap to catch Peter Pettigrew. Character tokens and red bricks are fun to find, too, because they add something to gameplay instead of being things to collect for the sake of collecting. The various potions are clever as well.
There was, however, a point where I got fatigued of smashing things over and over again for studs. Beginning a level and seeing a field full of smashable flowers made me groan every time; things started to feel a bit drawn out. I don't think year four was as well done as the previous three (it felt rushed). There was also no way a non-fan could follow the story, but maybe that's not necessary.
About the bugs:
I got random crashing during years one and three, which was not a huge deal, and two big hassles where the game would always crash. One was in the tunnel below the whomping willow, and was fixed by lowering the game's graphics settings.
The second was the infamous ice melting glitch at the end of year three. This was not as hard to get around as I thought. The trick is to make sure the ice is completely offscreen when it melts, so the animation cannot crash the game. To do this, I hit F2 to make the second character (Hermione) playable, then moved her all the way to the door on the left hand side, so the ice was not visible on her side of the split screen. Then I took Harry and positioned him so that I could see the torch I needed to hit, but the ice was not visible (this was easier because of the split screen--there's a lot less space). I hit the torch and didn't move until the sound of the ice melting was finished. Then I did it for the other one. Problem solved.