They say you can never have too much of a good thing - and when it comes to LEGO games, that's certainly true. Whether we're bonking enemies on the head with Harley Quinn's giant plastic hammer in LEGO Batman, dancing along the seafront in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, or taking on the Empire in LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, there's never a shortage of things to do, with collectibles galore, and hours of co-op platforming goodness lurking beneath the surface. With a veritable cavalcade of games having been released over the past few years, the developers over at Traveller's Tales are readying their latest creation for release, in the form of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, tackling the final part of young 'Arry's saga.
Needless to say, we were quite excited when Traveller's Tales announced the inevitable sequel to the first Lego Harry Potter – even more so, when we got the chance to see it at Gamescom in Cologne back in the summer. While the first four books/films featured in the first game were all relatively light-hearted tales of good versus evil, the final parts of the series turn much darker, with more deaths, despair and desperation, and we couldn't help wondering how the kid-friendly Lego people would handle these – the answer lies in humour, of course. For example, Dumbledore's death is shown with him falling head first of the top of a tower before landing head first in the floor, legs wiggling comically above him, to make it more funny than scary.
One of the things we liked about the first game was that you had the entirety of Hogwarts and it's surrounding grounds to explore and search for hidden collectables, students in peril and the like. This time round, they've increased it to include places like King's Cross Station and Hogsmeade too – we're both excited and a little apprehensive at having such a large area to search... The team also promised there'd be at least two hundred gold bricks to find, as well as the same shield collectables and students in peril as last time. And as we thought the first game was massive, this one's sounding like it might be even bigger...
The Lego team have expanded the special abilities that the characters have – Ron, or any of the Weasleys for that matter, are able to make use of these jack-in-a-box style boxes, full of supplies from Weasley Wizards' Wheezes, Fred and George's joke shop, including such things as sticky sucker shoes for walking up walls. Hermione also has her trademark beaded bag that she seems to be able to fit everything in the entire universe in, pulling out random useful objects when required. These new abilities came into their own in the demonstration of a level where the trio were trying to gain entry into Xenophilius Lovegood's house to find out more about the mysterious Deathly Hallows, and talk to Luna.
The house has a number of floating shield things surrounding it, too high up for us to reach. Need to pop the three things to drop pieces that we can hopefully make a giant door knocker from. Scattered around the house are three conveniently placed pumpkin balloons – one for each shield – so we need to free them from the rest of the plant they're attached to, and send them up to collide with, and destroy, each shield. First things first, we blast the easy one to the right of the staircase, sending it flying upwards and crashing into one of the shields. Then we notice a patch of Devil's Snare, which we get rid of by using light, to reveal some diggable dirt, which Hermione's cat Crookshanks can dig up, revealing one of the new 'bag points'. So Hermionie opens up her bag, flings out a few random things before settling on a giant ice-cream – what better way to distract the wasp that was flying around one of the balloons. With two down and one to go, we notice an opportunity to use another one of the new abilities, this time it's Aquamenti, a spell which turns your wand into a portable hosepipe – using this we fill up the bucket (that has a picture of a drop of water on), turning it into a scarecrow. Then the scarecrow starts spinning, turning into a sprinkler and watering the plants beneath him until he spins so fast he launches himself off into space – revealing the last of our pumpkin balloon things, which we promptly send skyward. With all three pieces of the door knocker located, we build it and Wingardium Leviosa it over to Xenophilius Lovegood's front door, triggering a cut-scene, where he leads us inside, does a little dance and heads upstairs, rudely taking the staircase with him and leaving us downstairs...
Next we skipped over to a different level – one that tells the tale of the Elder Wand and the three Peverell brothers, who each possessed one of the Deathly Hallows, three wizarding artifacts that, when united by one person, grant them the title of 'Master of Death' as well as immortality, or so the tale goes. You control each of the three brothers as they make their way through a side-scrolling segment before having a final face-off against death himself, a massive winged bone beast. You need to use Antioch and his Elder Wand to destroy objects that block your path, use Cadmus' Resurection Stone to reanimate the dead and activate switches, and use Ignotus and his Invisibility Cloak to sneak past Death.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 will be Slytherin into stores on the 18th November, on pretty much every games console imaginable – Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, 3DS, DS, PSP and PC, as well as the PS Vita when that comes out. Until then, here's a teaser trailer to whet your wizarding appetites: