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LEGO Harry Potter Collection

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Release Date: Oct. 30, 2018


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Xbox One Review - 'LEGO Harry Potter Collection'

by Adam Pavlacka on Feb. 28, 2019 @ 12:20 a.m. PST

LEGO Harry Potter Collection unites the creative prowess of LEGO and the expansive world of Harry Potter, with an exciting journey full of spell-casting, potion-making, puzzle-solving, lessons, dueling and much more for players young and old to enjoy.

Buy The LEGO Harry Potter Collection

First released on the PlayStation 4 back in 2016, the LEGO Harry Potter Collection made its way to Switch and Xbox One to cross-promote the release of "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" as well as the resurgence in physical Harry Potter LEGO sets. Who doesn't want a super-detailed $400 Hogwarts Castle? While they were fun back in the day, do the two games in this collection still hold up today? The answer to that question is yes.

Unlike the Batman, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Wars LEGO games, the LEGO Harry Potter games have not yet joined the Xbox One backward compatibility program. That means if you want to play, this collection is it. The collection is a single disc (or 13.5 GB download) that includes both LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, along with character and spell DLC. Because this is a single title, there is no option to save space by only installing one game at a time, and all of the achievements have been consolidated into a single list.

There are 2,000 achievement points assigned, with 1,000 for each game. Achievements mirror the original Xbox 360 releases, so if you're an achievement hunter looking to double-dip, you're covered.

When you boot up the collection, you're given a choice of games to play, and the launcher then kicks off the one you select. Both games are wholly separate, so actions in Years 1-4 don't carry over to Years 5-7, and vice versa. It's just like playing them in their original form — well, not quite, as Years 1-4 doesn't seem to have online co-op anymore. If it's here, it's a well-hidden option. If co-op is your thing, plan on couch co-op, or having one player connect via remote streaming.

For the review, I first fired up an Xbox 360 and played a bit of the original games before swapping over to the collection. Aside from the resolution upgrade, the collection has better draw distance and sharper textures. Some lighting adjustments appear to have been made, and the collection looks brighter, but that could be a result of the default gamma setup on the Xbox 360 hardware versus the Xbox One hardware.

The collection targets 60 fps and generally hits it, but there are some specific locations where it noticeably fails. For example, in Years 1-4, if you fire up the Lumos spell in the classroom where you learn it, the game immediately starts to stutter. In Years 5-7, you see the stutter in the main Order of the Phoenix hallway in Hogwarts. This seems to happen because, unlike the Xbox 360 versions, v-sync is locked here. If the frame rate can't stay locked, you end up with stutter, whereas the originals would show a screen tear. Aside from the stuttering, which did seem to be pretty localized, there weren't any major technical issues during my playthrough.

Comparing the stock Xbox One to the Xbox One X, the only real difference seemed to be how aggressively the game started to blur parts of the screen. Playing on the Xbox One, the screen quickly blurred if it was not immediately next to your character. On the Xbox One X, the area of clarity appeared larger. There were also a few locations where I noticed polygon shimmering on the stock console, but not on the Xbox One X.

As for the games, both Years 1-4 and Years 5-7 are still just as enjoyable today as when they were first released. The LEGO Harry Potter games were the first with a large, expanded hub area, so they're not quite open-world like current games, but they are also much more than a handful of straight levels. The games offer up a nicely sized version of Hogwarts Castle, along with Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron. Hogwarts serves as the primary hub, with Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron being a secondary hub that holds the standard upgrade options (unlock new characters, spells, red bricks, etc.), movie viewer, and level select.

Playing through the games for this review was like jumping in for the first time. It's been so long since my last go-round, everything felt fresh, and the joy of discovery was still there. Years 5-7 was the last game to feature the mime style storytelling (LEGO Batman 2 introduced voice acting to the franchise), and you know what? It still works. Just like I hadn't played the original games recently, I also haven't seen the films recently, but the animated hijinks refreshed all of the key story beats. It'd be nice to see TT Games move back in this direction, as it forces a level of creativity that you don't always get when using voiced lines.

Like any LEGO title, puzzles are a key part of solving the story levels, and they're here in spades. You'll need to break lots of things in order to build new items, which is standard fare, but you'll also make use of spells. The spells are colorful and bright, and they offer up magic solutions on demand. Each spell has a specific effect, which puzzles often incorporate into their requirements. Another nice touch is the polyjuice cauldrons, which can be used to add temporary buffs (e.g., adding super strength) or swapping characters.

Because the Harry Potter games are older releases, they don't have all the quality-of-life polish of a new game, but the issues are easily overlooked. For example, instead of a straightforward grid for character unlocking, Years 1-4 has you going into a shop and scrolling through a linear list. It's functional, and it could be better, but it doesn't really impact the overall experience. However, in Years 5-7, you see the standard character grid in the character shop. In some ways, it's intriguing to see the changes back-to-back, as it's a window into the game development world.

Access to Hogwarts is gated at the beginning of both games, with more areas opening up as you progress through the story levels. While Hogwarts isn't as big as the open world in later LEGO games, it still offers plenty of room to explore, and more importantly, never feels small. In retrospect, it actually feels more focused. In this case, less is more.

Moving from Years 1-4 to Years 5-7 does feel a bit jarring from a gameplay perspective, but that's only because they were originally two different games. There was a gameplay necessity to limit access to Hogwarts and reduce your starting powers at the beginning of the second game. What does stand out (in a good way) when the two games are played back-to-back is the additional depth to Hogwarts in both titles. The core elements are kept the same, but TT Games smartly expanded on the castle in Year 5-7 by adding areas where there were only minor doors in the first title, as well as tweaking — but not drastically changing — other areas. That tweaking can be explained by, "It's a magic castle."

Nine years may have passed since LEGO Harry Potter first released, but the games still feel as fresh and enjoyable as when they debuted. If you didn't know that LEGO Harry Potter Collection was a remaster, it would be easy to mistake it for a new release. The only real downside has to do with those who own the original Xbox 360 games. Since they've been withheld from BC, if you want to replay these on the Xbox One, you'll have to buy the LEGO Harry Potter Collection.

Score: 8.0/10

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