Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Harry Potter marketing train has reached cruis speed again now that the sixth book has been ported to the bix screen and of course we get to swing our magical stick around for the sixth time again thanks to EA. One thing’s for sure: it didn’t become a game with balls, but the Harry Potter titles do progress a bit each time. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, exciting!
We won’t talk about the story so that those that haven’t read the book or seen the movie won’t be flooded with spoilers. The game itself has a light variant of the origina lstory that is mostly brought to you by means of decent cut-scenes. Just like its predecessors the game still has an open-world sandbox concept which allows you to freely wander around. Year GPS pops up after pushing the select-button and guides you through Hoghwarths.
The game is in fact three big mini-games: Quidditch, potion-mixing and duelling. Each mini-games allows you to win badges that… actually have no purpose. While duelling you can cast about five spells by moving your joysticks and everything has been kept pretty simple which makes it boring very quickly. Unfortunatly Quidditch isn’t much better. What looks exciting and filled with action in the movie is nothing more than an on-rails sequence where you need to fly through hoops to gain speed so you can catch the golden snitch.
Luckily there’s a third mini-game that offers a bit more than the previous two. When mixing potions you need to keep track of the formulas you get. You’ll need to keep your potion at the right temperature, gather the right amounts of your ingredients, and make sure everything is ready in time. As you get better you’ll need to use more ingredients, do certain moves yourself with the potions and all this in an increasingly shorter timespan. Of course it says enough if one of the mini-games is better than the overall game!
Graphically things are quite alright, if you take into account that we’re talking about a licensed game. The atmosphere is good, the surroundings and especially the characters are well-detailed and you’ll see students walking around everywhere. Unfortunately the controls are abysmal. Harry walks stiffer than his own magical wand and you’ll often get stuck between invisible walls. Next to that you’ll find weapon shields that can be collected but selecting them with a magical spell went all but fine. Also the camera again works against you and no magic can solve that.
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince is in short a kit with three minigames and hardly contains a story. If you see how well the movies and books are, it’s all the more sad to see how little effort EA puts in making the Harry Potter games. Graphically we see improvement but qua depth things remain in enfant-stage. You need to be a huge Harry Potter fan in order to consider buying this game.