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)
Potions are a mess all together. I can see why Harry Potter has always hated potions class, because if it's anything like this Wii incarnation, it's like trying to make soup while incredibly drunk. You're tasked with trying to beat a countdown whilst mixing various ingredients, and while the mini-game isn't very hard, the controls and design are very awkward, leaving a decent amount of frustration when your polyjuice potion blows up in your face.
Dueling is probably the highlight of this game. The controls work pretty well; a flick of the wrist down will send a "stupefy" attack, a flick of both controls down will subdue opponents with "expelliarmus". While it is innately fun to knock some Slytherin students off of their feet with a "levicorpus" spell, the duelling gets pretty repetitive and the controls can get confused at times. Once you've duelled one person, you've duelled them all, which can lead to some disappointing fights with some of the stories main villains.
Like I said before, for me the best part of the game was the design of Hogwarts castle. It is fully realised, detailed, and loading screen free -- which is pretty remarkable considering the size of it. However, like the rest of the game, I found that outside of its looks there isn't much invested in the environment of the Potter-verse. You're only real opportunity to interact with the world comes in the form of collecting shields and mini shields, which is a tedious task that doesn't reap many rewards worth pursuing.
Harry Potter and the Half-Minded Development
In the end, the game isn't a horrible experience. It is kind of fun and features some decent gameplay, but is it worth $50? I don't think so. It just doesn't really own the incredible material at its doorstep. There are a few moments here and there that are amusing, such as a level where you play as the love drugged Ron or Harry high on Good Luck Potion. But overall, these remain the only real moments of inspiration within the title.
I've always longed for a game that was just like Bully for Harry Potter: truly immersive, has fun with the incredible world, and follows the story over the course of a school year. Still, for a game that looks like it has all the makings for a sandbox-style Harry Potter game, there isn't much to do once you've completed the story and the three main game categories. The game plays in a very linear style, jumping from task to task with no real options to do anything other than task at hand. Of course, I'm not asking that you allow Harry Potter to buy AK-47's, shoot old people and steal some cars like in GTA (Ed: I am!) but maybe some wand upgrades, being able to stun people for fun and broom-jacking would add some variation to the otherwise dull gameplay.
Harry Potter is certainly more mature than game and film companies give it credit for and you don't have to go to Rockstar lengths to utilise it. Just give it the respect it deserves by making a game that allows players to become engrossed in the world with gameplay, as Rowling engrossed us in the world with her words.
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