modeps's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Wii) review

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review

'The Boy Who Lived' has started his sixth year at Hogwarts Academy for Witchcraft and Wizardry, and such Electronic Arts has brought this latest endeavor to the small screen on every current platform. Ringing in the new school year with classes, perils, and hormones, Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to stop Voldemort once again.

Unless you know who Albus Dumbledore and Hermione Granger are, as well as key plot points from the previous movies or books, you should probably steer clear of this game... not because it's bad mind you, but because Half-Blood Prince is full of fan service and inside references that will make no sense unless you're up on that Potter.

Based upon the movie version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the story is told through a mix of in-game cut scenes and pre-rendered bits, which I can only assume at this point, touch upon the major plot points of the film coming out in two weeks. While they do a good job at leading you through the happenings at Hogwarts, some of the scenes feel a bit disjointed and happen without prior explanation.

Harry and the crew are decently modeled although during story sequences, their faces are a bit peculiar. They certainly look like Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, but the developers have attempted to throw some emotion into their face as events unfold. Good idea to help avoid the stone faced glare, but it comes off as nothing more than a replacement skin that just swaps out, instead of natural emotion.

Additionally, the entire cast is voiced and unless you turn on subtitles, you wont have to read the dialog. Most of movie actors have lent their voices to the in-game characters, including Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy and Evanna Lynch as Luna (Looney) Lovegood, but some of the stand-in voices are terrible. One particularly egregous example is that of Severus Snape... I guess Alan Rickman impersonators aren't all that easy to come by.

The area that makes up Hogwarts is an amazing achievement on the Wii. Everything has been meticulously recreated allowing you to guide Harry through the halls, classes, courtyards and surrounding area. It looks downright stunning. What's even more impressive is that it is all done with minimal load times. Normal exploration of the school grounds will seamlessly stream from area to area without much of a hitch (although the frame rate can chug here and there) and you're only given a brief load screen when a large transition is happening. To add a little incentive to make sure you walk everywhere, there are plenty of Hogwarts Crests to collect, as well as "mini-crests" which will build into full Crests after you get enough. These Crests will unlock different things such as multiplayer dueling and "gags" that you can use on the grounds.

Outside of exploration, you'll take part in three main activities which all seem a bit too much like mini-games to the point that once they're unlocked in the single player campaign, you can jump right to them through the main menus and just play that particular one. The most entertaining of the three is Potions. You plop yourself in front of a bubbling cauldron and have to mix, heat, pour and shake all sorts of ingredients to devise the proper concoction. This is a great implementation of the Wii remote as it feels like you're really pouring out liquid and stirring that pot. Once you get the hang of the current potion, they'll throw something else at you to keep track of for the next.

Next up is Dueling which you do a fair amount of. The Wiimote here is used in conjuction with the nunchuck as your wand and different waves will cast different spells and dodge incoming curses. At first, it's fairly easy and you simply cast Stupify and Expelliarmus to defeat your foe but later on you'll be deflecting and hanging the enemy by his (or her) ankles.

Finally the weakest of the bunch, riding around on your broom with Quidditch. As the Seeker for Gryffindor, its your sole job to catch the Golden Snitch. The films depict this as a harrowing battle against the opposing team's Seeker while dodging incoming Bludgers and other stick riders. Pretty cool stuff right? Not in this game. All it is, is a slalom race where you point the Wii cursor at the next gate. Once in a while, you'll get someone coming in to try and bump you, but its effectively a meaningless motion as nothing changes. Just hit those gates, and a winner is you.

While two out of three are genuinely entertaining, I can't help but think that adding a couple more things to do would have greatly increased my enjoyment of the game. Granted, over the span of about five hours, you'll probably get tired of them just in time to see the finale, but they do say that variety is the spice of life and maybe two more gametypes would have hit the sweet spot.

I'm kind of torn with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. On one hand, you've got a completely wonderful and fully realized world based off of the same one you've been watching in the movies for the past several years, including many of the same voices you've come accustomed to. On the other hand, the title just isn't varied enough in terms of actual gameplay. Still, if you're a fan of the series, you'll certainly find something to like about this game and as far as movie tie-ins go? It's probably one of the best ever made.

The Good
  • Faithful, well-made, and great looking representation of the Harry Potter universe
  • Included minigames are interesting and mostly fun to play
  • Find out what happens in the movie, two weeks before it hits theatres!
The Bad
  • Very limited selection of activities
  • The retelling of the story feels a bit disjointed
The Ugly
  • Bellatrix Lestrange's hair
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