Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Review
|Developer:||EA Bright Light|
|Release Date:||November 19th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
I read all of the Harry Potter books, and I have to say, I found the last one to be long, dull and a nothing but a big let-down, despite the series' excellent pedigree. Add to this the fact that this game is a film-tie in, and I have to say I wasn't exactly holding out for it to be anything but a shameless cash-in on the series. Thankfully, I was wrong - partially, anyway.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One (I think I'll just call it 'Hallows 1) is a decent outing into the world of JK Rowling's boy wizard, and stands up well - for a film tie-in title.
Following the plot of the book, and the movie to a certain extent, the game chronicles Harry, Ron and Herminone's quest to recover 'horcruxes' - containers which hold part of the dark wizard Voldemort's soul, and destroy them, killing him once and for all.
To do this the trio forego returning to wizarding school Hogwarts, and instead find themselves exploring the wet English countryside, spying out the horcruxes with friends and enemies aplenty along for the ride.
Good thing I explained all that to you, however, as the game has little or no explanation of the plot whatsoever - the developers clearly expect you to know what's going on and to have seen the movie, or read the book.
Aside from that tragic oversight the game itself is a decent, if uninspired, shooter with a few nice touches - sadly let down by dumb AI, abysmal voice acting and a repetitive nature.
Starting off with an uninspiring chase sequence, which sees Harry escaping from the clutches of the evil Voldemort, the game takes the trio on an adventure across England, ranging from mountain peaks to fertile forests, abandoned factories, the echoing halls of the Ministry of Magic and even the wizarding school itself - a lot of which is in neither the book or the movie - so, if you're a big fan of canon, look away now.
Since starting at Hogwarts, Harry Potter has become quite the wizard, and in this version of the wizard's gaming adventures, the gamer finally gets to chose what spell to use, and when.
Via the bumper buttons, or a radius wheel, Hallows 1 gives the player 10 spells to cast, ranging from the body-freezing Petrificus Totalis to confusing Confundo and Wingardium Leviosa - perfect for levitating cover in front of you when you get into a tight spot.
Switching between spells offers distinct advantages, depending on the enemy you're facing, which range from dark wizards and witches to 'snatchers' - wizarding bounty hunters - dragons and creepy dementors.
The only odd thing about this is that game only has about three skins for the dark wizards and the snatchers - meaning you spend the entire game fighting an army of rent-a-clone bad guys. That said, using Confundo on one of those rent-a-wizards and watching him attack his friends is always funny.
The gameplay is an odd mix of Gears of War's over-the-shoulder, cover-grabbing gameplay, and magical craziness. Potter and co have to move forwards, hugging cover and casting spells, hurling bottles of potion and dodging the multi-coloured spells of the Death Eaters and their allies, who have a nasty habit of 'apparating' (appearing in a puff of smoke) right in front of Harry's face.
Unfortunately the cover system is spotty at best, sometimes making Harry take cover behind thin air, other times refusing to take cover at all, leaving the boy wizard flailing.
Thankfully then the game is fairly easy, and most of the foes can be defeated by simply blasting them in the face with a good charm or two - this reveals its target audience, which is, of course, the younger gamer.
With that in hand, there's a lot to like about Hallows 1 - the game plays reasonably well, the controls are easy to master, and there's a lot in here for the Potter purist - there are dozens of extras to collect, ranging from movie stills to copies of the Daily Prophet - the wizarding world's newspaper, and recordings from the 'Potterwatch' radio show.
Younger gamers are sure to enjoy the depth of JK Rowling's vision as it plays out in-game, and a few well-done sequences bring the game to life - especially when Harry digs out his invisibility cloak and has to sneak around in first-person, trying not to bump into people, while his ragged breathing fills your ears.
However, graphically the game is nothing spectacular. While the environments are stable and varied, the animation is lacking, the lip-sync is off and there are a number of bugs, including screen tearing.
Aside from the dodgy cover system, the game's lock-on is also spotty, and considering the number of dark wizards Hallows 1 loves to throw at you, it can get annoying fast.
The sound is a bit of a mixed bag as well. While the score is excellent - most likely ripped straight from the movie - the voice acting is flat and boring, the very definition of phoned in, and the characters have a nasty habit of repeating the same catchphrase over and over in combat - there's only so many times I can stand Harry yelling "You chose the wrong side!" before wanting to cast a killing curse on him myself.
So, while Hallows 1 is a decent game for a film tie-in, it's hampered by poor controls, a lacklustre story, buggy graphics and a repetitive nature, but for the younger gamer, and the Potter fanatic, there's enough here to cast a spell over you.
- Decent combat
- Wide range of spells and locations to visit
- Lots of loot for Potter fans
Not so good stuff
- Awkward cover system
- Bad storytelling
- Abysmal voice acting