Harry Potter has become a portable novelty again with the release of Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 on Sony’s new PS Vita. But how do Potter’s twilight years at Hogwarts stack up compared to the console counterparts, especially considering the power of the Vita.
The Lego games have been and are always fun to play and although most of this comes down to the fact you are playing with a friend, however for obvious reasons that isn’t really possible on a portable device. That isn’t to say that the game isn’t enjoyable playing solo, there is something special missing from the experience though. To make up for the lack of co-op, the developer has instead included extra content, which aside from the main game (which we will come to in a bit) includes, a new duelling club, that offers you a chance to battle it out with the various characters from Death-Eaters to the teachers at Hogwarts. The duelling club offers some great gameplay and gives you a nice break from the platforming in the story mode.
There is something special missing from the experience.
Duelling also you a chance to practice and perfect the duelling that features in the game, since it’s very different from the duelling featured in the console versions. Instead of having a see-saw like beam that you need to push back towards your opponent, you have an attack button and a protection button. You can cast difference spells by pressing and holding the button to charge the spell, although you need to be careful as you can over charge it, which leaves you open to attack.
There are still the hundreds of collectables that you can pick up via replaying the games levels, athough this doesn’t make up for the lack of content that is rampant in the story and hub world of the game. The story is very much cut down with most years only offering four chapters to play compared to the home console versions that offer six chapters per year. The first part of the final year actually only has two chapters to play through, which seems to beg the question; why was it even made into two parts other than to match up with the home console versions and the film series? The hub world is equally sparse; it shows the main hallway in Hogwarts with four doors leading off to the various stories, there is access to the shop to buy the characters and extras and a chalkboard in far top left corner that starts the duelling club, finally there is a trophy room in the bottom left. That is all that is in the hub world, which is a massive step down from the world that you got to explore in the home console version.
This is the major drawback for the whole experience, as I’ve been comparing the PS Vita version of the game to the home console’s with a less than positive shine. This is due to the gap since the release of the game originally and the power under the hood of the handheld. Games such as Unit 13, Uncharted and WipeOut have shown the PS Vita has some amazing horsepower behind it, so to see it squandered is damning for a launch window game. While there have been far worst games on the platform quite frankly I expected more from the Travellers’ Tales team.
This pure lack of consideration of the platform is shown throughout the game. The graphics are flat, flat as in the kind of visuals that you would expect to see on the DS . There is none of the power that you have come to expect from a game on the PS Vita, in fact there is none of the power that you would get with even the PSP. The worst display of this is the cutscenes in the game, they are literally a upscaled version of the PSP cutscenes that have been dragged out; leaving them looking about 3 points away from horrible. The pixelization of the video is so extreme in fast moving scenes you have a problem following them, this got so bad for me that I ended up skipping them and just filling in the story gap from memory.
There are some small gameplay problems that do bite at times. The detection in the game can be hit and miss. You need to be in certain positions to be able to target objects with casts like Wingardium Leviosa which can lead to deep frustration.
If you are looking for something that will show off the power of your new shiny handheld, this is not it.
Shining through all this is the fun, Lego games have a great sense of storytelling, humour and of course the gameplay. This seems strange to say this after being so down on the game, but there it is. LEGO games are great fun, even in the case of the less than stellar PS Vita version.
If you are looking for something that will show off the power of your new shiny handheld, this is not it; in fact nowhere near. However, if you are looking for something that is a great game to play, with fun gameplay and humour soaked into every corner then you will enjoy Lego Harry Potter on Vita.
Rating: AverageReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
You can order LEGO Harry Potter from ShopTo here.