Review

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Review (Xbox360)

Itís no secret, the Harry Potter series is among the best-selling and most popular novels in quite some time. Itís a worldwide phenomenon that is as ever gripping as it is engaging. That being said, with such a rich source to work (whether film or book) from, the developers over at Electronic Arts continue to fail to bring the world alive in the video game medium. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is no different as repetitive gameplay mars the experience from beginning to end.

If you havenít seen the film or read the book, Iíll save you from encountering spoilers with a brief overview of the plot. Harry Potter, as usual, has returned to Hogwarts for the start of his sixth year at the wizardry school. While learning the expertise of potions, Harry learns that his school book used to belong to a mystery student that went by the nickname of the Half-Blood Prince. Throughout his journey through the sixth book, Harry learns that Draco Malfoy has been tasked with a deadly deed by Lord Voldermort himself, he watches his best friend Ron Weasley becomes a Quidditch hero, opens his ears for Hermoine to spill her guts on the topic of the love of her life, and Dumbledore assigns Harry the duty of getting to know a new professor to gain useful knowledge of Voldermortís childhood. As a novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was all over the place and is best read after completing the previous entries; as a film, David Yates created the darkest chapter of the film series so far. But as a video game, Half-Blood Prince fails to capture the charm and essence that makes the Harry Potter universe so unique.


This isn't love at first sight.
Dueling has its moments.

Due to references to the books Ė and not to mention characters left out of the film Ė the video game is able to cram in more information than the film was able to. This should entice the fans of the book that may find that walking about Hogwarts is entertaining at times, but with such simple gameplay, Half-Blood Prince isnít anything special. Sure, the duels with the Death Eaters sounds enticing, but the moments of excitement are few and far between. Sadly, in its entirety, the video game adaptation does a horrible job at weaving a comprehensible storyline for those who havenít been following the series. With sporadic cut-scenes Ė and not to mention, they look horrible Ė the storyline takes a turn for the worst with pitiful recreations of important scenes with horrendous voice-acting. In addition, there are times that the developers changed up a few of the key scenes Ė which I wonít ruin for you Ė to the effect that I personally believe any hardcore Harry Potter fan will cringe.

The gameplay consists of creating potions (similar to Cooking Mama), participating in duels and jumping on a broomstick to play Quidditch. Of the three, the dueling takes the forefront as the most entertaining aspect, but that isnít saying much due to the lack of depth to the battle system. Controlling the wands with the analog sticks, players will choose which spell you want to perform by flicking it in a direction. After a few battles, the attacks boil down to predictability of your opponent as you cast spells back and forth until his/her health bar is depleted.


ďLet me tell you Harry, we are in for another horrible adaptation.Ē
Quidditch returns but has no difficulty.

As for Quidditch and the potion-making business, both are very limited and the fun factor is narrow as a pencil. For the latter, players have a set number of ingredients set before you with a recipe on the side of the screen to follow. Players will then pour the right ingredients in, stir them up and then heat it up to combine the ingredients. This process is used over and over again until youíll never want to make another potion again. The Qudditich portion has players using Harry as the seeker of the team. Harryís quest to grab the golden snitch is much easier than whatís seen in the films or read in the books as heíll simply fly through a few objects in the sky to obtain the snitch. This is ultimately disappointing due to the fact that the other team is supposed to employ bruisers of sorts who try to get in the way of Harry as he attempts to capture the snitch.

In the end, the Harry Potter video game curse still hasnít been lifted. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is still as poor as any of the past titles have been and the future doesnít look any better with only one book left. The graphics are borderline satire, the voice-acting is atrocious, the gameplay is monotonous, and the storyline isnít told properly. Iíd recommend reading the book or watching the film again before you ever decide to play the game. Letís cross our fingers that, when the films are finished, EA or any developer can recreate the series faithfully without any nearing deadline of a filmís release.


Top Game Moment: Dueling with a friend and casting your first spell on them.

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