With the last Harry Potter film comes the last film tie-in for consoles; but is this swan-song any better than the others that EA have given us over the past few years?
Last year’s motion controlled experience has been repeated again for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in what is now a bit of a wizardly Gears of War clone. The game picks up right after the last title, although rather than have a “previously on Harry Potter” catch-up video explaining what has come before, we are taken straight into the action with only a brief explanation that Harry is searching for Horcruxes to stop Voldemort. Once these pleasantries are out the way, the game then hits the ground running, with Harry, Hermione and Ron breaking into Gringott’s Wizarding Bank. The game then takes you through some very action packed set pieces, blasting away at Voldemort’s Death Eater minions and a few guards, which I assume is part of the film; not having seen it I can’t really comment but the snippets in the film trailers seem to tie in with the game.
Each level involves you playing as Harry or another of his faithful group in this cover based shoot-em-up game, with most of the action involving running to a bolder, hiding behind it and firing off a few shots, then running to another bolder and repeating, with the occasional moment of stealth or chase scenes thrown in for good measure. Of course the wizards magical repertoire comes into full effect, with Stupefy and other tricks acting as a variety of bolt attacks, rapid fire and explosive shots and Protego as a short term shield to help get to the next area of cover. The cover system works quite well with you being able to blind-fire and lock-on to enemies with ease. This is largely due to the aim reticule, which gradually gets smaller for a more precise shot the longer you hold the aim. Later in the game you also learn the Apparate spell which allows only Harry to teleport from cover to cover, a cool trick that comes far too late in the game.
Deathly Hallows Part 2 has full motion controls incorporated if you have the right kit, with the PS3 Move being a lot more interactive than other control schemes. This is probably due to the fact that you get to wave your hands around just like Potter and his wand more than anything else. The game is still fully playable with a standard controller but it does show up a lot of the games shortcomings and is not as nearly exciting.
The duck, cover and shoot mechanics do get a little tiresome after a while so to add some replayability there are collectables dotted around the levels which open up a selection of music tracks and character models that let you zoom in and rotate friends and enemies from the movie series. Finally there is also a Challenge Mode, which scores you on time taken and types of shots in set levels and then allows you to upload your top scores online; but it’s just more of the same old shoot and cover, a problem that the Story Mode also suffers from.
Though there are some really good looking environments to run through, all making you feel part of the Potter world, the characters really let it down. There is some very iffy looking skin textures and acting, making you feel like the kids should have spent more time at Sylvia Young’s rather than some wizards school. All of this will not deter the Potter fan base who will lap up every moment, with the game allowing you to replay large parts from the film, however it does seem focused on the younger players, that’s right, Harry Potter is for kids.
The most important area to consider when purchasing this is the length of the game, coming in at a little longer than the film itself at around 4 hours this is surprisingly short. The game has already taken a lot of liberties with the source material, with lots more action and magical powers added, but it still feels rushed. Most disappointingly, the cutscenes replace what could have been great scenes, who wouldn’t want to ride on a giant dragon, instead of the last scene being wasted on a poor cutscene and a bitterly disappointing ending.
Though the last film has been and gone don’t expect that to be the end of the games. On the bright side, with no more movies and hopefully more time to spend over the games, perhaps in the future these titles will actually feel better for it. Though we aren’t holding our breath.
Rating: Below Average Review policy
You can order Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 here (PS3), here (Xbox 360) and here (Wii).