LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5 - 7
, like Years 1 - 4
, diverges from the standard LEGO
games in a way that might surprise most fans of this series that didn't get a chance to play the first Harry Potter
title. The biggest of the differences is that less focus is put on the levels themselves. Where most of TT Games' LEGO
releases have broken up the movies they are portraying into multiple worlds/ episodes/ films and each one of those segments has their own collection of levels that you can jump in and out of with a good bit of freedom, LEGO Harry Potter
forces you to play through the events of the story in the order that was portrayed in the films/ books and most of the story progression actually takes place outside of levels.
This was a bit frustrating when I first encountered it. I have to admit here to only recently picking up and playing the first LEGO Harry Potter game, because I found it hard to really gauge my progress in the overall game. Sure, I knew where I was in the story, but there weren't clear demarcations between the different tasks. For the most part, I was running from room to room, exploring Hogwarts and learning the new spells and potions that my characters needed to know in order to open up new areas of the school. When I got used to this though, it felt more natural and seemed to flow better. While you can't simply jump into the three stories and progress in only the ones you want to out of order, the open-world feel of Hogwarts feels like more than just a hub area as seen in the other games.
There is one drawback to this though, and that's the fact that the levels you are thrown in feel a bit jarring and out of place. There were several times when I felt like I should be in a level, but wasn't, or when I was in the level, I couldn't figure out why that particular part of the story needed to be pulled out from the rest. As for the levels themselves, they feel pretty much like the levels in these games always have. There is a lot of exploration and you will need to return in Free Play Mode in order to collect everything. But again, there was one difference that I don't quite get in this game, and that's the fact that characters aren't unlocked at the end of levels. Most of the LEGO titles let you unlock any of the characters that you played as (more or less) when you beat the level, and any enemies you face becomes available for purchase. In LEGO Harry Potter, on the other hand, you have to collect tiles that represent the different characters and then purchase them. This was just another one of the odd changes found in the Harry Potter games, but unlike most of the others, I never really got used to this one.