Posted by Tim on July 11, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review

Post Rating

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Developer: EA Bright Light

Copy Reviewed: PS3

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Its too bad magic wands don’t actually exist. Then it would be easy and effortless to fix all the problems with the new Harry Potter game. In fact, it would probably cost as much effort as the developers put into making the game. The Half-Blood Prince falls into the same category most movie games reside in: the suck category. But the story of the Half-Blood Prince is a tragic one, since this game had the potential to be something great. The elements are there, but the game just does not change as you play through it. Almost all should stay away from this rendition of the HP games, except crazy Potter fans and trophy whores.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Potter books/movies series (begs the question why do you care about the video game), the Half-Blood Prince is the 6th story in the series and its one where Harry finds himself closer to his destiny duel with the dark Lord Voldemort (who isn’t in this game…at all). The game follows the plot of the book (with a few changes of course) as you take control of the legendary Harry Potter and help him track down Horcruxes with Professor Dumbledore. In the game you do everything an adolescent wizard should be doing: mixing potions, playing quidditch, dueling with wands, and having awkward interactions with girls. The sad thing is, thats the exact and only things that happen in this game, over and over again.

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The game is sort of like a sandbox game in the sense that you roam around the Hogwarts grounds at your leisure to complete your tasks, which is actually pretty fun. The atmosphere is done well and you really feel like you are at Hogwarts as there are students all about and hidden secrets waiting to be discovered. If you get lost you can easily summon Nearly-Headless Nick, a ghost who will lead you to wherever you want to go. This makes travel go easier and is a helpful addition. Unfortunately, there are just too many negatives that easily outweigh the few positives in this game.

Throughout the game you will often find yourself having to make potions for a variety of wizarding needs (a cure for love potion brownies anyone?!), and at first, mixing a potion is pretty fun. You have a slew of ingrediants that you need to select and then move over the pot to pour in, while occasionally stirring or heating by rapidly moving one of the analog sticks. Any change in ingredient or stirring/heating changes the color of the potion. Unfortunately, you have to mix potions a lot in this game, and there is not much variety in doing so. After about the tenth time of stirring, adding, stirring, heating, stirring, you get pretty fed up with the whole process. For those looking to get a platinum in this game, prepare yourself for making even more potions, as you have to complete the potions list (with highest marks for each) and there are pesky and menial students who have the audacity to ask you to make them potoins for their homework or for whatever other preposterous reasons. Video may have killed the radio star, but potions repetition killed the wizard.

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And the repetition mantra doesn’t stop with potions. It carries over into flying and dueling. Which is a crying shame because potions, flying, and dueling are what being a wizard is all about. The quidditch games are the most dissappointing aspects of the game. When you think of what EA could have done to emulate an actual quidditch game, that alone could be a fantastic game itself (Madden Quidditch 2010 anyone?).

Instead of creating an actual game experience, what you have is a 3rd person view of Harry on a broom, and he has to fly through giant green rings to extend time. You can’t speed up, you can’t hit the brakes, you can only move from right to left as you chase the snitch. What’s worse, you don’t actually get to chase the snitch, its more like you follow the snitch on a roller coaster ride as you dash right and left to make it through the rings. Sure the coaster takes you all around and under bridges, through rivers, but its just so…boring. Plus, you have to do this twice for every match since there is a warm up, and there are even more flying challenges after that. Once again, EA forces a steady dose of repetition down our throats.

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As if the flying and potions weren’t bad enough, dueling is almost just as boring. There are only 4 spells, with one for defense and a charge mecahnism, as you slowly side step around each other in a circle motion. And there is dodging; oh the variety!  You would think that EA would at least give you some interesting people to fight, but you would be wrong again. If you thought mixing potoins and flying through rings over and over again was repetition, wait till you battle Crab and Goyle a hundred times for no reason. Or random classmates who for whatever reason just love to pick a fight with you. Sure, there are a few battles with Bellatrix Lestrange and Greyback, but the battles are lame and worthless.

The main game is relatively short, but if you plan on finding all the crests prepare yourself for a lot of needless running around (as if you weren’t sick of doing the same thing over and over again already). This game is so repetitive watching television is more interactive. Potions, flying, and dueling should have been three strengths for the game, instead, tragically, they are vacuous weaknesses.

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Other weakness of the game are exposed in the character interactions. The voice-overs and done poorly, the narratives are very awkward (there is a scene where Harry and Ginny are trying to hide a book and Ginny tells Harry to close his eyes while she grabs the book, throws it behind her, and declares ‘there, it’s hidden’), and the cut-scenes are just not smooth. On top of that, the graphics are not up to par, the textures are 2-D at times, and there is significant slow down when running through crowded areas.

EA loaded the game with different tasks to keep you coming back for more, but by the time you drudge through the main story, you have almost no desire to do so. There are dueling clubs to complete, potions list to fill out, and quidditch games to win, as well as 150 crests to find that are hidden all over the grounds. If they were done well, the clubs and games would really extend the replay value because they are scored so you can always come back and try to beat your old records. The crests are cleverly hidden which is fun to track down at first, but there are just too many of them. Additionally you have to collect about 25,000 mini crests which are hidden in lights and other random objects. Collecting crests takes just about as long as the main game does, which is way too long and takes the fun out of the treasure hunt.

The cliche “so close, yet so far away” describes this game well. To be able to mix potions, fly and play quidditch, and having wizarding duels with some of the most notable characters in the Harry Potter series, and to do them in a fun and interesting way, would have made a fantastic game. Unfortunately, repetition ruined it. Some people may find joy and entertainment in this game, but for the rest of us, this tragedy is something we should just pass by. EA desperately needs a magic wand to fix this one, but unfortunately, we do not live in the Harry Potter world.

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2 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review”

  1. John says:

    awesome review, good writing.

  2. Great books and great movies, makes me want to be a wizard!

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