The charm of the Lego video games has been in how stories are told and characters brought to life without the need for dialogue or exposition. Emotion is expressed by a raised eyebrow, plot points delivered with a sneer and a wave of a minifig (Lego-speak for "minifigure") hand.
Game studio Traveller's Tales has been adapting some of the most popular adventure franchises since the release of 2005's Lego Star Wars, and their experience keeps this game somewhat fun to play. You'll be able to spend hours just wandering around, waving your wand to destroy and construct elements in the environment and racing to collect studs (Lego-speak for segments of the plastic building bricks).
But you'd expect a Lego video game set in the magical world of Harry Potter to be more compelling than this, sadly Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 bogs down under the weight of itself.
The problem may be with the material. Years 5-7 encompasses the last three books (four films), and that's a lot of ground to cover. Even with an understanding of the tale being told – I've read the books but haven't seen the last two films – I had a hard time figuring out what was going on. I got turned around in many of the environments, Hogwarts for example, because they are too big and featureless. Even the glowing arrows to point the way weren't much help.
That said, I did enjoy running around, collecting the 200 gold bricks that are hidden in the game, and found learning new spells and making potions interesting, but only for a short time. Even playing co-operatively with a friend couldn't make my interest in this Lego Harry Potter last more than a couple of hours.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Price: $49.99, starts at $29.99 for Nintendo DS
Platforms: 3DS, DS, PS3 (reviewed), PSP, Wii, Windows, X360
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Traveller's Tales
ESRB: everyone 10+