Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review – Xbox 360 and PS3

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By Lady Ramkin

Flex your wand arm and join Harry and his friends in yet another adventure at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince closely follows the movie’s storyline, and gives fans the chance to wander the corrodors of this famous school for themselves.

Will the game catch the golden snitch and win the cup for ultimate victory, or will it prove to disappoint even the hardiest fan? I guess we’ll have to see if this will be the game that lived…

The game is basically made up of three main activities: Duelling Club, Potions Club and Quidditch.

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Duelling Club is where you learn all the spells you’ll need for duels and battles. These range from the ever popular ‘Stupefy’, to the more sinister ‘Petrificus Totalus’. Even though there are only five dueling spells to master, I find that the battles are still quite interesting. You can join the Griffindor, Huffelpuf and Ravenclaw duelling clubs, and collect badges as you go along.

Potions Club is where you make use of the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book, to impress Proffesor Slughorn and collect Potions Badges. You are presented with a range of ingredients, and need to mix specific potions before the timer runs out. Imagine a “Cooking Mama” experience where you heat up the cauldron, shake ingredient bottles, and stir until your thumb rebels.

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Quidditch is where Harry hops onto his broom and has to fly through a succession of glowing checkpoints fast enough to catch the snitch. The flying controls are quite easy, and overall a fun experience. Here you also collect Quidditch badges.

Throughout the game there are hidden Hogwarts Crests to collect. Using Charms spells like ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ you can gather them to your hearts content, to unlock extras such as mini-games in the game menu.

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Finding your way through the castle is quite simple, and all the landmarks are in the game, such as Hagrid’s Hut, the Great Hall and the Griffindor Common Room. What makes things a lot simpler is that whenever you need to go somewhere you can merely summon Nearly Headless Nick, and he’ll guide you to wherever you need to go. You can also take shortcuts through some of the Portraits.

Exploring the castle is fun, but limited. The parts you do get to see though are very nicely done, with good quality graphics and attention to detail. The characters you meet along your Hogwarts journey could’ve used a bit more refining, but look ok in the end. The Menus are quite pretty, and I love the ominousgreenbubblysmoke effect when it loads the game. Well done.

The sound effects and background noises are great, birds tweeting and pine trees whispering in the breeze creates a nice atmosphere. When it comes to the voice acting of some secondary characters though, I feel chills down my back… and not the good kind… Bellatrix sounds like the wicked witch that led Hansel and Gretel astray. The music is well done though, and saves the lack of fleshed out storyline in a big way.

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What bothers me about this game is that the Harry Potter idea has so much to it, and instead of planning and making something great of the game, the developers simply made a game and sprinkled the story over it, hoping things will make sense. I felt rushed throughout the game, and believe it is as a result of shoddy storytelling. I didn’t connect to the characters at all, and felt like I was just going through the motions.

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It’s entertaining, but still just another “movie-license” game.

Conclusion

Overall not a bad experience. If you’ve never read the book or watched the film there is no way that you’ll be able to connect with the storyline in this game. It is basically a quick run-through of the movie.

The plot has been cut up into less than bite-sized chunks and set to fast-forward, which leaves no room for the player to get immersed in the story. You might run into some of your favourite characters, like Hagrid or Luna, but the interaction is so abrupt that it has no lasting effect. If you’re a hardcore fan you might have a bit of fun, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Scoring

Gameplay: 6.5
Controls are easy to get used to, spellcasting is inventive and fun. Flying controls are quite easy. Gameplay is fun but lacks depth.

Presentation: 8.0
Graphics are quite good, characters could’ve been a bit more refined, but are very recognisable. Detail in surroundings are good. The camera is a bit dodgy at times, especially when in closed up spaces or whilst running in superspeed.

Sound: 6.5
Music and sound effects are decent, voice acting of some characters is rather bad.

Value: 6.0
Not a very long game, they’ve tried to elongate it by adding collectables, but the novelty soon wears off. It just doesn’t draw you in.

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Overall: 6.5

Last Updated: July 16, 2009

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