I’ve always had a thing for Lego. When I was a kid, I lived and breathed the blocks, playing with them every day until eventually, I grew up and sold them all to buy a Game Boy. About 5 years ago, I decided to get back into them a bit as a relaxation technique, and now I find myself picking up a set every few months.
Recently, Lego reinvented themselves by adding a video game lineup to the mix. For the past few years they’ve put out games such as Lego Batman, Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones, all based on the popular properties.
Their latest one is Lego Harry Potter (Years 1-4), and it’s available on the Mac App Store right now. So how does the Mac version stack up to the console models?
The Lego Game Basics
For those who are new to the Lego series of games, know that they are incredibly deep; each level has tons of different things to collect. In Lego Harry Potter you collect studs, the Lego version of coins, which are hidden in almost every object.
There are also various gold bricks hidden throughout each level, as well as other goodies. If you get a certain amount of bricks, then you unlock an extra character and qualify for 100% completion.
Most times you can play through an entire game and only get 20% completion. Know that although this may involve children’s toys, this is no kids game.
The demo version doesn’t show much, but since I also own the PS3 version of the game, I can give a bit of insight on the premise. The game progresses through the first four years in the Harry Potter series, or from The Sorcerer’s Stone to The Goblet of Fire.
If you’ve only seen the movies, then you may be a bit lost in some parts of the game, as it stays more true to the books than the films. No worries though, the basic premise is the same and you’ll still have a ton of fun playing the levels.
Lego Harry Potter is a combination of a sandbox game and a platformer, in that when you’re roaming around Hogwarts between levels you can go pretty much anywhere that you’ve opened up before. When you’re in a level, sometimes you have free reign, sometimes you’re stuck to very specific paths.
There’s also no camera view or rotation, so don’t expect to be able to switch perspectives if you need to see something from a different angle. That can get frustrating at first, but it’s something you just accept a few minutes into playing the game.
In the demo, I was able to use the keyboard to move around the level. Four keys move you forward, back, and side to side, while others on the right side of the keyboard allow you to pick up objects and move them about.
There’s Lego building in the game as well, as certain glowing objects are able to be manipulated from one shape into another. This comes in handy, and it’s something you’ll need to do frequently.
The Spell Dynamic
Harry and his team start off by learning how to use one spell, then with each level they learn how to use more and more. Each one has their own usage, with some being able to manipulate metal objects, others used for repelling plants, and so on.
This is critical to the game, because at times you’ll find yourself completing a level, but notice there are still areas you could access if you had the correct spells. This makes the replayability very high, and once again, adds depth.
Each character in the game has their own unique abilities. Ron, for example, has a rat that can crawl through tunnels where others can’t go. Hermione can read bookcases, opening up unique opportunities here and there, and Harry can fly on a broom better than anyone.
You’re given a predetermined set of characters at the start of each level, designed specifically so you can get through the level correctly. That isn’t to say that you’ll have all the characters you need to complete the level 100%, because as previously mentioned, this game is designed to be played multiple times.
You can change through each of the predetermined characters for the level on your first runthrough, however. I found myself frequently playing as Harry because he seemed the most versatile, but other people I know play Ron, others play Hermione.
The game is a lot of fun to play, but it’s not perfect. The Mac version suffers from the same issue as the PS3, which is this weird frame rate deal that’s tough to describe. It’s as if the “page flips” down ala iBooks on the iPad. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it is a noticeable issue.
Because it’s not a sandbox game nor a platformer, there does seem to be a bit of an identity crisis with this particular game. Since you can’t move the camera, sometimes getting onto platforms is an exercise in futility.
Even with all of those issues, this game is an absolute blast to play. I keep hammering this home, but you can play this game seemingly forever, what with all of the hidden gizmos and gadgets to find. It’s almost like a kiddie version of Grand Theft Auto…
I can’t give this my highest marks, but I sure would recommend the game. It’s a bit pricey now, but this isn’t a game you’ll play for an hour and bail on, believe me. This is a legit game for the Mac, with no compromises made for the platform at all, at it’s a ton of fun.