Of the many games series that could benefit from a remastering, the LEGO titles aren't really in the conversation. For over a decade, all of the TT Games-licensed LEGO titles have run on various platforms with little to no technical issues. The later games suddenly lowered the frame rate, and even then, those were released on previous-generation consoles at the same time as the more current releases. Yet with "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" in theaters, WB Games thought that film's inclusion in LEGO Dimensions wasn't enough. Hence, we have the LEGO Harry Potter Collection, a remastering of the two games released on multiple platforms in the prior generation but seemingly restricted to the PS4 this time around.
TT Games' LEGO titles are generally co-op adventure games made with younger fans in mind. Combat is simple in that button-mashing is all that's needed to take out any enemy, though bosses need a bit more effort since you have to employ some strategy. Lives are infinite, so dying isn't a setback, lessening the chance for a child to become frustrated. Combat in the LEGO Harry Potter series isn't as prevalent as it is in other games, so there's more of an emphasis on puzzles. Harry, Ron, and Hermione each have access to a similar set of spells, thus reducing the need to swap between characters to access new parts of a stage, but each does have distinct spells and abilities. The same goes for any other character that you can control, both major and minor, though the overall ability pool is limited enough that you can get away with buying a small sliver of characters and still get everything, if you know who to aim for.
The campaigns for both titles can be wrapped up rather swiftly if you're aiming to complete the main storylines. The stages are small if you're just going for the main exits and puzzles each time, and with only five or six stages dedicated to each film, it doesn't take long to get the gist of each movie. However, part of the series' appeal comes from exploring every nook and cranny to uncover every secret possible. Every part of a stage has a few things that, when triggered, allow you to get more gold bricks or studs. The former is good for unlocking secrets, while the latter is your means of purchasing new characters, which will hopefully lead you to uncover more secrets . That feedback loop of uncovering studs to get characters to get more studs isn't just limited to campaign levels, as you'll be doing similar things in places like Hogwarts and Diagon Alley.
The other appealing aspect of the game is the humor. Despite some of the serious undertones to the movies, the LEGO interpretations tend to be more jovial. Some of those things range from having unexpected rubber ducks show up to bad drawings and otherwise juvenile humor, but nothing is mean-spirited or bawdy. Having said that, the humor is limited, as this game comes from a time when the LEGO titles didn't employ voice acting. All scenes, major or minor, are all pantomimed so some of the jokes will be lost on you if you don't have any familiarity with the movies at all. It is something of a dividing point for fans since some believe that the series lost that special spark once you could hear anyone say something beyond basic emotive grunts. If you're more a fan of the more recent talkative LEGO titles, the travel back to a decidedly more silent era can be something of a deal breaker.
Our reviews for both LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and Years 5-7 called them great titles that would appeal to young gamers and a few adults. That remains true after all these years due to the plethora of things you can do. The secrets and number of unlockables are guaranteed to keep you busy for a long time, even if some of those characters aren't the most exciting. The pacing as far as unlocking new spells and abilities is spread out well, while the story stages feel rather breezy. Again, those familiar with the LEGO formula will find this to be very familiar territory, but there's a reason why it hasn't largely changed from the first LEGO Star Wars.
From a content standpoint, the game remains relatively unchanged from their original incarnations. There are a few more characters added to the roster, but they're insignificant compared to who's already here, and some of the additions are merely main characters in different outfits. The split into two different games means that you have two different Trophy sets to aim for, Platinums included, but they're no different from the Trophy roster in the original PS3 titles. As far as PS4-specific features go, the lightbar on the controller will match the spell color of your wand, and you'll sometimes hear the spells being cast on the controller speaker. Also, you can turn off the HUD via the touchpad if you want to get better-looking screenshots.
The presentation is the one area people care most about in these remastering efforts, and unlike other titles, the improvements are more subtle than expected. The resolution is bumped up to 1080p, and except for a few scenes here and there, the frame rate maintains at a solid 60fps. Textures are cleaned up, but it isn't like the original was a muddy mess, so it's difficult to spot the differences unless you have both games side by side and have sharp eyes. The same goes for the enhanced lighting, which is nice but not as pronounced as expected. It certainly isn't the visual workout that the more recent LEGO titles provide, but it certainly holds its own against them now.
Even with the advancements done to the formula over the years, the LEGO Harry Potter Collection remains a solid game for fans. Gameplay remains simple enough for kids to enjoy, but the amount of content packed into each title ensures they'll still be working on it long after the campaigns have been finished. The enhancements due to the platform jump aren't truly significant, but they help make an already clean-looking game shine just a tiny bit more. Unless you've played these to death on previous consoles, this is certainly a game that deserves to be checked out by those who still adore the LEGO games without question.
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