How would you like to play a family-friendly ripoff of Gears of War with magic and less quality? Yeah, neither would I. But, at the behest of my friend Jordan, I rented Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 from Gamefly. It took us a while to find the time to actually play the thing, but when we did boy did we ever play two missions and stop. HPDH1 is a game brought to us by EA Bright Light and Electronic Arts.
The story of this game is much the same as the movie it’s based on. And being that this game is a quick grab for more money out of us loyal Harry Potter fans, why wouldn’t it be? You play as Harry “The Boy That Lived” Potter. First you’re in the sidecar of Hagrid’s flying motorcycle shooting at Death Eaters. Then you get down on the ground and you must fight off Death Eaters from crashing Ron Weasley’s brother’s wedding. Then you go to the Ministry of Magic looking for a horcrux to kill Voldemort. Then … well the rest of the movie. If you want a good synopsis of that, wait for my Potter movie reviews. This game has sapped the life out of me like a Dementor would.
I won’t talk much about the quality of the story. It’s great, ’cause it’s based on a great movie and a great book and it follows it pretty closely.
Let’s talk gameplay here. It was an odd choice to make a Harry Potter game control much in the same way as the popular Gears of War series, but it’s one they made. You have a 3rd person shooter with magic instead of bullets. You can choose from about 10 spells in total and also use a couple of potions you’ll soon forget you have. These spells play very similar to classic gun types in shooter games, but you’re the good guy so of course you don’t have Avada Kedavra. You set your phasers to stun. You’ve got Stupefy (like a pistol), Expelliarmus (like a charge up plasma rifle), Confringo (rocket launcher), Expulso (machine gun), Confundo (sniper rifle that confuses the enemy into helping you), Petrificus Totalus (shotgun), Wingardium Leviosa (Gravity Gun from Half-Life), Protego (riot shield), Expecto Patronum (area effect that only works on one enemy), and Four-Points Spell (which is basically the indicator to your next objective). The thing that makes this game Gears-y is that they try to use the cover system. Run up to cover and press ‘X’ and you can be protected and shoot over the wall. Problem with this is that I found walking side to side and shooting worked well enough that I never got into any problems. And using cover sucked. Most of the time when you hit cover you would shoot the wall when trying to shoot over it, and then you would randomly detach from the wall when trying to move along it. There was a stealth thing too where Harry would put on his cloak of invisibility and you’d have to sneak through areas to find something. These parts were the most tedious and boring of all. And, sadly, they were pretty frequent.
The big reason I decided to try this game out was that it was the first Harry Potter game to use Kinect. What’s that? I can BE Harry Potter? I’m in! So Jordan and I tried that out. As with most Kinect games, it didn’t work very well. You basically just do a couple of hand movements to shoot at enemies. Point your right hand for Stupefy, raise your left hand and point for Confringo, hold up your right hand then point for Expelliarmus, hold your right hand to your chest and then point for Expulso, and hold both hands out in front of you for Protego. The hand movements recognized just fine, but for a game where the enemies are running around in front of you, and the camera is whipping around after them, I can’t have something that can’t figure out where I’m pointing and making me miss because you can’t figure that out. I don’t blame Kinect though, Kinect support was clearly an after thought for this game. I was under the assumption that it was the entire game, but it’s mostly for controller and you can switch to Kinect mode to do a couple challenges. You can’t even play the story with it.
All the enemies you’d expect to be in here are. You encounter the giant spiders, the little blue pixies, you avoid the Whomping Willows, there’s Dementors, you briefly fight Voldemort, and there’s a really lame boss battle with Nagini the snake. But the greater majority of the game is Death Eaters and Snatchers, which basically equates to people with wands and different clothes. It also claims that different spells work better on different enemies, but never tells you which work better on which, and frankly Stupefy was good enough.
The voice acting tended to be pretty bad in this. The parts that weren’t (as you may be able to guess) were the few actors from the movies that they were able to talk into doing the game. Rupert Grint does well as Ron and whoever did Hermoine’s voice (not Emma Watson as best I can tell) was pretty good as well. The person that did Voldemort was abysmal. He tried to capture the strange manner of speaking that Ralph Fiennes pulled off so well, but failed miserably. The Wikipedia page also claims that James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) reprised their roles. I remember Malfoy being in the game, but I don’t think he spoke. I don’t even remember the twins being in it. Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Warwick Davis (Griphook) reprised their roles as well, but they barely spoke. Another thing that bothered me about the voice work was that Ron and Hermoine were so damned defeatist in battle. Every once and a while they’d say things like “We’re done for” and “There’s too many of them”. Stay positive here people. Just keep your wands up and walk side to side. It’s working for me.
Graphically (much to my surprise given the rest of the game’s quality) it’s actually pretty nice. The characters look exactly like the characters, the locations look like the locations, everything is as it should be graphically.
So, I wouldn’t play this game if I were you. It’s not really worth it. If you’re an achievement whore like I am, then maybe you could play it because a day of tedium will net you around 700 achievement points, and a little more if you have a Kinect and a friend. Be warned though, the difficulty achievements do not stack. For non-gamers, a stackable achievement is the way developers that AREN’T jackasses do it. If you beat the game on Hard, you get the achievement for beating it on Normal and Easy. I beat it on Normal and have not the patience to go back and beat Easy or Hard. Bad form, EA. Also, no mission select, so best get them collectables the first time through. I missed one, and I ain’t goin back for it. I give this game “Stupid-fy” out of “Confringo”.
And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.