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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince review

AT A GLANCE
  • Faithful Hogwarts re-creation
  • Easy enough to get around
  • Can call up Nearly Headless Nick
  • Controls made for the Wii
  • Lacks real substance
  • Problematic camera

Seven months. That’s how much extra time EA Bright Light has had to tweak and polish Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince after its release date was pushed back thanks to the movie’s theatrical slippage. The time could have been spent perfecting one of the most valuable game licenses. Instead it seems as though Harry and company were dumped in the Vanishing Cabinet since the game’s completion last year and left to gather cobwebs. Draco would be proud.

Like most family games of late Half-Blood Prince suffers from catastrophic Wii syndrome. The game’s clearly been designed with the waggle stick in mind. From the awkward potion mixing lessons to the wand-waving duels, every action would work better with a motion controller.

The problematic camera highlights the issue perfectly. In a sane world, camera wobbles would be corrected with a flick of the “look” controls, but thanks to some thoughtless control patching, this merely waves Harry’s magical fleshlight about.

But it’s the giant step backwards from Order of the Phoenix which offends the most. Bastardised controls we can half accept; inferior versions of the last game’s features are a little harder to swallow. Half-Blood Prince boasts none of the story progression of before – choosing instead to edit out key scenes in ways which would confuse even J.K. – and it’s so reliant on its three main minigames that there’s little room for any other content.

Dueling, potions and Quidditch: at any given time you’re probably involved in one of these three tasks. The first is almost a carbon copy of Order of the Phoenix’s scraps (though dodging buttons replace the speedy sidestepping of before), the second is a cumbersome mixing game that suffers from imprecise controls and confusing depth perception, and the third is a lengthy and disappointing on-rails glide to snatch the snitch. In any other title, each minigame would be little more than a side-quest. Unfortunately in Half-Blood Prince there’s no real main adventure to speak of, only brief ‘run-here’, ‘go-there’ quests to link these three activities together.

Hogwarts itself is superbly recreated, in part because it was already believable in the last game. There are subtle differences but liberal use of copy and paste has helped to churn this one out quickly. As a result, navigation is easy enough for anybody familiar with the series. Newcomers, however, will struggle endlessly to accept the convoluted corridors.

In lieu of the retired Marauder’s Map breadcrumb footsteps, you can instead call upon a (tragically voiced) Nearly Headless Nick for guidance, but to extend the time between the bland minigames Harry can search for the Hogwarts badges. Sometimes this involves repairing broken emblems or hurling heavy objects into walls with Wingardium Leviosa, but mostly it’s simply a case of prodding random objects with a push spell. Glowing lamp post? Push it for pickups. Boulder? Push it. Sign? Why not... push it?

Order of the Phoenix’s diversionary puzzles were a fun way to extend longevity but here the push-everything tasks are lacking focus, much like the rest of the game and its pitifully butchered plotline. A real shame, especially given the promise shown in Order of the Phoenix. Fingers crossed for Deathly Hallows: Part One.

Jul 1, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jun 30 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PC, PS2 (US)
Jul 03 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PC, PS2 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, PC, PS2
Genre: Children's
Published by: Warner Brothers, Electronic Arts
Developed by: EA Bright Light
Franchise: Harry Potter
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

9 comments

  • Shnubby - July 19, 2012 7:36 a.m.

    ahahaha! "Fingers crossed for Deathly Hallows: Part One" That games turned out even worse! Why must they link a great series of books/movies to a pile of rushed games? I'll admit though that OOTP was pretty fun and I loved the original 3 when I was young.
  • winner2 - July 3, 2009 12:43 p.m.

    Hopefully the movie will at least will be worth seeing, unlike this.
  • Dexsus - July 2, 2009 2:59 p.m.

    Ahhh, good old EA
  • jar-head - July 2, 2009 3:12 a.m.

    lmao Bastardised=Bastard+Retardedassgame...
  • HellHound258 - July 1, 2009 11:13 p.m.

    Why do they even make Harry Potter games? (my first first!)
  • yanks4602 - September 1, 2009 7:13 p.m.

    Worest game ever to be made... Boring, anyone who is thinking of buying save your money.
  • McDoobie - July 18, 2009 3:39 p.m.

    honestly, why so people even like harry potter and why the hell do they make the games like jonah hill says how long is harry potter gonna be at hogwarts, i thought the books were gay from he beggining and then the author comes out and says dumbolwhore is gay! i laughed for a week straight. harry potter is gay and i feel bad for everyone in this world because they have to see and hear all this potter bullshit. Harry potter and Twilight dudes need to get off there knee's and stop licking scrotum. like Peter Tosh said, " Legalize it"
  • redwingsrule19 - July 4, 2009 1:06 a.m.

    very disappointing
  • PuddingKnight - July 2, 2009 4:40 a.m.

    ........seven.....months.....and this is what comes out. ~sigh~

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