Monday, August 23, 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Im not going to even explain the history of Harry Potter, we all know where it came from and the media darling that it is today. As is the case with pretty much any worth while movie (and many not so worth while) a game is not far behind to cash in. Usually these games are just horrible, and EA has a long list of horrible movie tie-ins. So does the latest Harry Potter game installment follow this trend? Lets find out.

Gameplay (7 out of 10)
Now to be honest, I hate all the Harry Potter games, they are just boring and make you want to fall asleep with there cliche's left right and center and boring game engines.

EA has finally done something right, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a worthwhile game, never thought I would say it about a Harry Potter game, but they have completely revamped the way the games engine is set out. The easiest way to describe it is like the. Grand Theft Auto : Hogwarts. You follow a similar style of mission progression as the GTA games, look on your map, find somebody, get a mission and off you go. I didn't think it would work, but they have mixed it up enough to feel original and not a GTA rip off. It is so free roaming its not funny, you are literally discovering new things every time you walk through a hallway (and believe me there are a lot of hallways).

I wont go into the story line, as I'm sure most of you know it, but if you don't, pick up the book or watch the movie because you wont find out about it here. I will go into the what I will call 'Wii-Wand' the wiimote as the wand adds an awesome feeling to play, and works fairly well, there are a set of 6 (if I remember correctly) hand patterns (which are just pulling back, circle motion, etc) that do either 6 combat spells (if you in combat) or 6 non-combat spells (For exploring the castle, etc). I do have one problem and its always with the same spell (Forgot its name but its the Fire spell) it at times can take as long as 5 or 6 shots at the spell to cast (it involves waving the wand left and right with lamps, etc selected) and can get frustrating, but other than that, the wii-mote to wand is awesome.

Sound (9.5 out of 10)
The sound in this game is something that is just amazing, they have got many of the actors from the movies to do the voice acting, which is awesome as it makes it feel a lot more universal. The music has both tunes from the music and its own music which are really amazing and breathtaking to be created for a video game (Think Lord of The Rings / Harry Potter style tunes that are created for a game). Every character, no matter how small seems to have a voice of there own. The environmental sounds are great as well, walking past portraits hanging on the walls you can hear them having conversations. The same goes with students, before you know it you will be up to date with all the Hogwarts gossip. Really top notch sound here, no complaints from me at all.

Graphics (7 out of 10)
The only downfall in this game is of course its graphics, its character models are fairly basic and there are more jaggies than you could pock a stick at. Then why did I score it so high your asking? Because theres more to graphics than poly counts and AA levels. The lighting used in this game is great, when you walk through a hallway with light shining in through the windows, it just looks beautiful, the entire castle looks beautiful, I will go on with that now.

The castle, first and foremost, is HUGE, its just massive. If your not following the footsteps of your map you will find yourself getting lost quite often. There are no, I repeat, no loading screens at all. When you walk though a door the hallway behind you fades away and you walk around the castle without single load, it really is great. The entire game looks like a piece of art, it is just beautiful to look at, despite it high amount of jaggies ,etc

The games cut scenes use the next gen versions engine with pre-rendered scenes (If you have played Call Of Duty 3 you know what im talking about)

There is one thing I disliked a bit, was the stiff animation in Harry's walk, its the character we are going to see walking in front of our camera for the entire game, he really should be animated nicely, but he just looks a bit stiff and when your on a long walk it can really annoy you.

Replay Value (7 out of 10)
When you finish the game you are greeted with 'The Never ending Day' in which you can walk around the castle and finish any of the side missions you didn't finish while playing the game through as well as unlocking Videos (Which have interviews with the cast and game crew of the game and movies) and trophy's in the room of rewards, so once its finished, there is still quite a bit to do. There are also a few mini-games through out the game such as its own version of marbles, snap, memory and a few others, though you wont play those for long other than to get another trophy in your rewards room. So theres no brick wall on gameplay one you have finished the main story.

Overall (7.625 out of 10)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a curve ball I never expected to play, I purchased it for my 12 year old sister, after watching her play for awhile I tried it out and was surprised, it is a solid game and to get this form a movie tie in, one that has a horrible game past as Harry Potter, and its from EA. I found it amazing the game turned out the way it did. Im no massive fan, I have read the books and watch the movies when they come to dvd, thats about it. If you have been looking for a Harry Potter game but the past releases have turned you off (as they did to me), this is the title for you. Even if you just like a good adventure, I would recommend this game. If you can look past the shotty models and the problems with the spells every now and again it is a fairly amusing game. Surprisingly (Didn't think it would happen when I first heard of another Harry Potter game) this gets the thumbs up from me.

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