Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is set during Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts and things are not going well in the fight against Voldemort
- Huge Howarts environment, duelling is pretty fun, (some) original cast voiceovers and music
- Hit and miss controls, lack of variation in gameplay, shoddy cut scenes, lack of replay value
Unfortunately, the Half-Blood Prince falls victim to the common pitfalls of so many movie-to-game tie-ins before it.
Price$ 79.95 (AUD)
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I'll admit it: I'm a Harry Potter fan. I've spent hours in line for midnight releases for both the books and the movies, surrounded by fellow nerds (excuse me -- "fans") with their glasses, wands and drawn-on lightning bolts shimmering across their foreheads. I've even got a mini-poster of the first film as well, which came with a complimentary golden snitch when I bought the DVD at Tower Records. All things considered, I like to think I'm a well-versed fan of the series. In fact, I blame Harry Potter for my long-standing insomnia, as every book kept me reading from ten at night until the crack of dawn. So, in that sense, I may even have reason to resent Harry Potter -- but I don't. However, what has given me a sense of resentment is the lack of a truly engaging Harry Potter game, and unfortunately, The Half-Blood Prince for the Nintendo Wii didn't do much to change that opinion.
The Boy Who Lived
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is set during Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. Things are not going well in the fight against Voldemort: Muggles are beginning to notice magical accidents, important mystical people are disappearing and Severus Snape has made an unbreakable vow to Narcissa Malfoy to protect her son Draco. At Hogwarts, Harry learns how to Apparate, gets a new Potions master in the form of Horace Slughorn (but at the expense of having Snape as his Defense Against the Dark Art teacher) and begins to have all new romantic feelings towards Ron's sister, Ginny. Along the way, Harry receives help in Potions class from a mysterious penman named the Half-Blood Prince, uncovers some history behind Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore and Snape, and prepares for his biggest battle yet against the dark forces of magic.
Needless to say, a lot of stuff happens in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but you'll be hard-pressed to discover any of that information in the actual game. The bulk of Half-Blood Prince merely skirts over most of the important events in the novel and film in favour of forcing you to play repetitious mini games over and over again. While the game explains some of the basic plot (with some mediocre to downright terrible cut scenes), I doubt anyone who hasn't read the books or viewed the upcoming film would have any clue as to what was happening or why. Which is an unfortunate (albeit typical) outcome of its movie tie-in roots.
Now, before I talk about the gameplay, I'll have to say that I haven't played any of the previous Harry Potter games, so I'm simply going off of what this new installation has to offer. The bulk of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's gameplay is spent in four different categories: Quidditch, brewing potions, wizard dueling, and running your wizard butt to-and-fro across the castle. Now, while I didn't mind the last category, as you'll find the design of Hogwarts is absolutely gorgeous, the first three categories left something to be desired.
The game utilises the Wii Remote for all your Quidditch, Potions and duelling needs and while it's fairly well incorporated, it can be pretty touch and go with certain tasks. In Quidditch, you'll find that Harry is already set on a directed flight path through the stadium, leaving you to simply point the Wii mote left, right, up and down to make him fly through some star shapes which propel him to catch the snitch. While the animation and sound design is pretty good, the gameplay is dull, repetitive and not particularly hard, which left me feeling pretty bummed, as Quidditch seems like such a fertile ground for some intense sports gameplay.
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