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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - hands-on

The Harry Potter games have always included a good number of spells, however, and there are only so many hand motions that make sense or are easy to memorize. Although the player can return to the Gryffindor common room's message board at any time to re-familiarize themselves with the controls, the developers have thought of a simpler solution. Make the magic casting context sensitive.

So if you're innocently wandering around the fully realized, fully explorable Hogwarts, the wand will perform tricks like the ones we described on the previous page. But get yourself into a combat situation - be it hallway tomfoolery with the Slytherins or life-and-death warfare with the Death Eaters later in the game - and those same motions will result in more spectacular and aggressive spells. You'll be starting fires with "Incendio" and disarming enemies with "Expelliarmus" using the techniques you've already learned.



Above: This is a next gen screen. The Wii version does not look this good

Optional puzzles scattered throughout the castle will also take advantage of spell casting. See a suit of armor that looks a little disheveled? Perform a quick "Reparo" to repair the knight. Notice some paintings scattered on the ground? Use "Wingardium Levioso" to float the art to its proper resting place on the wall. Side quests like these will net you Discovery points, which make your magic stronger and can be exchanged in the Room of Rewards for behind-the-scenes clips and other fan-friendly unlockables.

The Wii version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix doesn't look nearly as good as its 360 and PS3 counterparts. You won't be able to see every pimple on Ron's face (seriously, the developer told us this is possible in those other editions). But for the first time in these games, you might feel like you're truly playing Harry... not just watching him. Which is more important?

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