Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince review

Measly wizard wheezes in a half-dead world

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

The previous Potter games have never managed to make anything good out of Quidditch, and this outing is no exception. As a sport it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but to see it reduced to a game where you fly through glowing hoops – and that’s honestly the extent of it – is disappointing. Compared to the other activities, it’s pointless, lazy and dull.

These three minigames form the bulk of the curriculum, but if you can’t get enough – and you probably will get enough – you can join clubs in each area and while away your free time challenging students to duels, mixing potions or chasing the snitch. But, seemingly in exchange, some of the previous title’s minigames have been axed. Say goodbye to Gobstones, Wizard Chess and Exploding Snap. Er, why? They were already implemented – EA could have just copied and pasted them from one game to the other. Sure, that would be lazy, but why remove them completely?

With fewer ways to interact with the other students – and seemingly fewer objects to cast spells on – the castle feels less alive. In Order of the Phoenix you were rewarded with ‘Discovery Points’ for exploring the environment, but this has been replaced with collectable crests that unlock health bonuses and other trinkets instead. It’s a slightly better system but the rewards are still essentially futile. How about giving us enchanted objects we can equip and play around with? There’s a whole world of magic to the books and movies that the games don’t even bother grappling with.

It’s short too: just five hours long, with an incoherent story you won’t want to replay and no real incentives for exploring. It’s worse than the last game in almost every way. Except potions. Making potions rocks.

Jul 1, 2009

More info

DescriptionSeven 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.
Franchise nameHarry Potter
UK franchise nameHarry Potter
Platform"Xbox 360","PS3","Wii","DS","PSP","PC","PS2"
US censor rating"Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+","Everyone 10+"
UK censor rating"Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending"
Alternative names"Harry Potter 6"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Tom Sykes
When he's not dying repeatedly in roguelikes, Tom spends most of his working days writing freelance articles, watching ITV game shows, or acting as a butler for his cat. He's been writing about games since 2008, and he's still waiting on that Vagrant Story 2 reveal.