Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter: OOTP Video game

First, let's preface this: Yes, I'm a huge nerd.

Now that the confessional is done, I should tell you that I've been playing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the Wii. Despite outward appearances, it's actually pretty fun.

Have you seen the movie yet? I wouldn't suggest playing the game if you haven't. The game follows the movie closely, both in story and in visuals. As you progress through the game, you can unlock interviews with the cast and the designers, detailing how they used the cast members' faces as models for the in game characters. In fact, 22 of the cast members provide voices for the game. The game feels authentically as if you've been plopped down into Harry Potter's shoes, at least in the movie.

*Spoilers ahead*

Unfortunately, because there are so many parts of the book/movie that can't be translated well into a game, the story bounces around a lot. By the time you're done with the tutorial, you're already organizing the DA.

Additionally, small inconsistencies crop up as well. Harry is supposed to "teach" people as part of the DA. However, whenever it's time for a new spell to come up, Hermione is the one teaching it to you first. A minor quibble, since the player has to learn the moves, but purists would do well to take the bug out of their butt before picking this one up.

The charm of the game is the control scheme. The nunchuck controls Harry's movement while the wii-mote is waved around like a wand. Moving the controller in certain ways will activate certain spells, such as Wingardium Leviosa (levitate objects), Accio (draw objects towards you), and Reparo (repair objects). You'll use your small arsenal of spells to solve the puzzles you're confronted with, although some of them won't make much sense.

The largest part of the game is Hogwarts itself. You're free to wander the entire campus (using your Marauder's Map for guidance, of course), discovering little secrets here and there along the way. This is both great and tedious; as many hours as I've spent in this game, most of it has been in the way of chores around the castle. You'll find yourself fixing statues, reassembling suits of armor, putting paintings back on the wall, sweeping up puddles of water, and more. If you enjoy games that have oodles of secrets and easter eggs, especially Harry Potter easter eggs, then this part will be right up your alley. Otherwise, it's just something interesting to do while you roam the vast corridors of Hogwarts.

While there are minor frustrations to be found, both in game play and in implementation, the experience is still entertaining. I've had fun running around, solving puzzles and exploring the castle. The developers were even able to license the music from the movie, which does wonders for bringing the game world to life.

Nuts to Gamespot. I give this one a 7/10. If you're a Harry Potter fan and own a Wii, go get this game.

Update
Wow. I hadn't finished the game when I wrote this earlier, but now I have. This game is short. If you don't spend your time wandering around doing the "sidequests" (finding easter eggs), the game is very fast. Find the DA . . . make trouble for Umbridge . . . fight the Deatheaters/Voldemort . . . the end. Yikes.

What's disappointing is the Ministry of Magic scenes. With as much as the movie left out, this would have been a perfect place for the game to recapture some of the scenes from the book. This would have been a terrific place to explore, have some puzzles, etc. Instead, it played out as one long cutscene. What an utter waste of the material.

I have to regrade this one to a 5/10. The game still has all the charm it had before, and it's still neat to run around, find secrets, see the interviews, hear the music and the voices.

But.

For $50, I expect quite a bit more game time than this one offered. Without the padding of the secrets to discover, this game would be almost empty. It seems to be a case of "movie tie-in," which never bodes well for a game.

Which is such a shame, as I was enjoying this one.

3 comments:

Rach said...

Have you made it to book 7 yet?

Hal said...

Nope. Gonna borrow my sister's copy when she's done with it.

Rach said...

Enjoy it! I did . . . I hope you'll post your thoughts, of course!