Game Time: 'LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4'


LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 PC, DS, X360, PS3, PSP/$29.99-$49.99/June 29

"Star Wars" did it. "Indiana Jones" did it. Even "Batman" did it ... and no, I'm not talking about creating disappointing sequels to immensely popular franchise flicks. I'm talking about gaining enough status in pop culture to earn a LEGO video game. Thanks to its record-breaking book sales and blockbuster films, it only seemed logical that the next franchise to be bricked would be J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter." That bespectacled adolescent is ready to take you on a four-year journey through Hogwarts and beyond in Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment's latest, "LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4" for consoles and portable devices.

The magical world of Harry Potter offers everything that adventure gamers love: vast worlds, colorful characters and an epic story. Once you begin the game, you'll find that each and every location found within the first four books of the Harry Potter series has been brought to life, including Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest and, of course, Hogwarts. As you attend class at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you'll meet students and teachers who will help guide the story and create tasks for you to accomplish. While stacking and unstacking LEGO bricks is about the only trick you can do once you arrive at school, attending classes will give you the opportunity to learn new spells such as Wingardium Leviosa, a levitation spell, and Lumos Solem, a spell that will brighten dark areas.

Past LEGO titles have made things pretty simple as far as controls go, but with all the spells and abilities in the game, a single-button casting system would be far too difficult. In order to simplify things, the game offers a Spell Wheel, which allows you to place your abilities in the wheel and then select them quickly and easily when needed. This also comes in handy when selecting unique items such as Harry's Invisibility Cloak and Ron's pet rat, Scabbers.

While many of the past titles have only given players the chance to take piles of random LEGO bricks, press a button and have them assemble automatically into specific pieces of equipment, "LEGO Harry Potter" does something a bit different. Using special spells, you'll be given the chance to blast apart and reassemble bricks the way you want to. If you need to cross a chasm, snap some bricks together using Wingardium Leviosa, or stack them to make stairs to an unreachable level.

Media Link: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" airs Wednesday, June 30, on HBO.

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