You're also supposed to be able to charge and aim spells using the touch screen, but this never works as well as the button layout--the touch screen very often does not recognise where you want to aim the spell, and your character ends up shooting randomly. It's much simpler--and quicker--to use the buttons. The touch screen does come in handy during duelling, however, where you can block spells by simply swiping left or right. You can also use the touch screen to select highlighted objects that can be magicked by holding your finger on the object and then making a rotating motion, which activates the spell; again, this usually proves simpler and quicker with the buttons.
The addition of Weasley Boxes in the game goes towards helping make the experience feel new; the boxes themselves--which contain numerous joke products providing special abilities for the surrounding puzzles--can be accessed only by members of the Weasley family, making red-haired companions a must in the free-play levels and providing you with an incentive to switch between characters more often. There are also Luna Lovegood's Spectre Specs, which let you see and build with invisible Lego bricks.
As in other Lego games, there are certain exemplary moments full of well-dressed charm: Dumbledore's botched escape from his office in Order of the Phoenix, Harry's awkward romantic entanglements in Half-Blood Prince, and Snape's grisly death at the hand of Voldemort for the horrendous crime of eating all the muffins. This well-maintained lighthearted tone--a hallmark of all Lego games--is possible here due in large part to the attention to detail paid in the game's design.
The game's environments are well detailed and contextually accurate, providing a rich backdrop for the action. The cutscenes re-create some of the film series' most inspired moments; the opening scene of Half-Blood Prince is a particularly fine example of this. They succeed in doing justice to the story's darker tone through the expertly crafted flashback sequences which are presented in a striking, sepia-toned aesthetic that reflects the maturity of the source material.
Harry and company struggle to cast the spell that releases the constant haze you watch them through.
But it's not all smooth sailing. The loading times can be a bit of a bore, especially since the game requires a substantial amount of time to load even when you're walking in between rooms and scenes. There's also a slight inconsistency with some of the game's smaller tasks, which are inserted at various moments throughout the story but have little bearing on what's happening. This is irksome only during the particularly high-tension moments, some of which are peppered with a number of bafflingly mundane activities, like building a cart or collecting ingredients for a potion. Thankfully, these moments are infrequent.
For those who aren't ready to say good-bye to Harry Potter just yet, Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is a charming way to stay inside J.K. Rowling's magical world a little bit longer. Despite the occasional slipup, the game successfully builds on the original story to offer a simple yet satisfying experience that has depth and replay value. There's enough to engage and have fun with to appeal to fans of Harry Potter as well as fans of previous Lego games.