A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 covers the stories of the first four Harry Potter books (and movies). Those stories get darker as they go along, but in the world of LEGO video games, even that which is scary or violent is depicted with colorful block characters. A spooky LEGO ghost still looks like a toy. Even among the growing library of LEGO video games, though, Harry Potter is less violent. With LEGO Star Wars or Batman or Indiana Jones, there was a lot of physical fighting, but such melees are only a small fraction of the action here. In LEGO Harry Potter, the focus is much more heavily weighted toward exploration and puzzle solving. There is a tiny bit of crude humor, most of it involving bad odors -- as when a LEGO creature leaves little brown LEGO droppings, and characters grimace.
What's it about?
LEGO HARRY POTTER: YEARS 1-4 covers the same plot as the first four Harry Potter books (and movies). Young Harry discovers he comes from a magical lineage, goes to Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, makes friends, discovers enemies, and learns that he must stop the return of the most evil wizard ever, Lord Voldemort. Covered within this game are such memorable Potter moments as Harry's first Quidditch match, the battle with the basilisk, the attack of the Whomping Willow, the visit to Hogsmeade, and the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Is it any good?
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is yet another winner in a long line of fantastic LEGO video games. The beautifully rendered story scenes are filled with tongue-in-cheek in-jokes and a lot of fun to watch, but here, more so than in previous LEGO games, much of the plot is revealed through gameplay sequences. The classes, for instance, in which Harry and friends learn new spells must all be played out. There are so many imaginative features and details that you may not even notice everything on your first playthrough; luckily the game is designed to encourage multiple replays. Exploration and trial-and-error are rewarded throughout, and it is so much fun just to wander around the halls of Hogwarts trying out different spells on different objects to see what happens. It would be almost impossible for Potter fans not to adore this game. But even those who aren't mega-Potterheads can appreciate and have a great time with this truly creative adventures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Harry Potter fans can talk about this latest incarnation of their favorite story. How does LEGO Harry Potter compare to the books and the movies? Does it capture the spirit of the tale and its characters?
This is a game built for two-person cooperative play and requires a lot of teamwork. How do you like playing with another person as a team? Do you find it difficult to coordinate your actions? Or do you work better with a partner?
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