Price: $4.99    Score: 9/10    Category: Games

If you thought LEGOs were for scattering over the floor and building things, you can think again. Warner Bros. Entertainment‘s version of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 proves that LEGOs have hit the next generation, and their iOS debut is more than impressive.

The 41 level adventure (which are divided into four acts, or years) immerses you in a detailed world of broom flying, spell casting, and intense exploration.

LEGO Harry Potter starts with a short video of baby Harry being dropped off on the Muggles doorstep. By the end of the mini narrative he’s off to Hogwarts where he’s collecting LEGO tops (the equivalent of coins), finding presents, and helping characters collect lost rats.

In the beginning the game is a simple matter of search and find exploration. You travel between rooms, learn to switch between different acquired characters to achieve different tasks, and open doors with simple motions.

The pull of your finger controls your motions effectively, and you move to LEGO people with gold and blue above their heads to receive directions and get information.

At first the game is just above average. It’s impressive for the way Warner Bros. conveys such an in depth world and follows the narrative of Harry Potter’s life without actual speech. The sound effects are also wonderful, but it takes a little time before the game presents you with its real appeal.

When you advance you learn how to fly, assemble LEGO figures, cast spells, brew potions, and much more. There are quidditch games, scenes for fighting, in-action spells, and opportunities to save Hermione. This is when the game gets really addictive, and frankly I wasn’t able to do anything else for the rest of the morning.

After playing for about a half hour I was only 2% through the game, and the rest of the fun continues at about the same pace. There’s so much to uncover it’s unbelievable, and I would dare to call this one of the most complete iOS games to date.

You have to avoid enemies within their field of vision, uncover hidden objects when you get near flashing pets, play mini games that leave you chopping and brewing the ingredients of specific potions, and much more.

As you progress you end up in spell school where you learn more intricate motions meant to defend your enemy, and you can achieve more in the magical world. Half of the fun is seeing what Harry will do next, and part of what will keep you playing is the joy of the next surprise.

The only beef I have with LEGO Harry Potter is that it doesn’t let you save at any given point. Instead you must either leave the game where it is (rather than quitting through the briefcase menu in the lower left hand corner) or wait until you reach specific level checkpoints where your progress is saved automatically.

LEGO Harry Potter is also the kind of game that’s truly meant to be played in large chunks of time. Partially because of the robust nature of the worlds and partially because of the touchy saving, this isn’t a game you can play while you’re waiting in line. Instead it’s something to be enjoyed more like a true console game. I can hardly wait until 4.2 releases because I think it’s going to be even better on the iPad.

Note: Although Harry Potter is a universal game that has been designed for all of your iOS devices, it only works on iPads with the 4.2 update and iPod Touches that are third generation or newer.

Bottom Line: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is an incredibly robust game version of the movie. The details are impressive and fans will enjoy assuming Harry’s character and exploring his world.

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