linkforever1's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Xbox 360) review

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review (Xbox 360)

            Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review (Xbox 360)

                                             Is The Trip Back to Hogwarts Worth It?

The latest Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a very simple game.  The game essentally consists of three "souped up" mini games.   All of them are fun, but stomaching each one for more than 45 minutes is painful.  It's a good thing that the main storyline does a really good job of rotating the three games and splitting up gameplay segments with narrative.  I am a huge Potter fan and thoroughly enjoyed this title, despite how it is merely a small compilation of mini-games with a limited world to collect Crests in. 

The game has a good deal of polish and the world does a great job of making you feel connected to the world Rowling inspired.  The music is fantastic and the graphics and lighting really do a great job of immersing you into Hogwarts.  If the game had more substance and side-quests it truly would be a great world to get lost in for hours at a time.  Too bad there is hardly anything to do after finishing the main quest (aside from attempting to collect all 150 Crests scattered across the world).

The game itself is really about the three hefty mini-games the title offers.  The mini-games all provide 5 star rankings based on how smoothly you have completed each task.  The best way to achieve a five star ranking is to get bonus points by achieving "Great" ranks.   Doing this is relatively simple for all of the games.  For Quidditch it's only a matter of going right through the middle of the stars required to fly through.  Potions is based on how precisely you mix the ingredients matching the desired color.  Dueling is all about how many special movies you can achieve while facing your opponent.

The best mini-game is clearly the potions game.  You are given a cauldron and ingredients scattered around it.  You are to follow the directions as they come up on the side of the screen.  These directions are strict and precise though the challenge level still seems pretty weak (for the kids?).  The mini-game is actually pretty fleshed out and is really enjoyable to play.  If only they had added more recipes and ingredients.  Regardless, this is without a doubt one of the highlights of the game.

When the Potter games first came out one of the most promising aspects was how the developers were going to handle wand-play.  They had never truly embraced the full potential, creating something special.  You would think by the 6th game in the series that the concept would be nailed down right?  Prepare yourself for dissapointment.  However upon first trying it out it seemed pretty fun and cinematic. 

As you play more you start to realize that the mode is very, very dry.  You can dodge, strafe, shoot a fast bolt, or use the control sticks to let out a special spell.  To put it blatantly, strategy appears to have been an afterthought.  The special moves are very easy to pull off, yet sometimes appear unresponsive for no reason.  It is worth noting that unless you want achievements for high ranks the special spells are useless.  It is very easy to just bombard your opponent with quick shots if you desire to take the non-achievement route. 

If you are aiming for achievements there are a few things that need to be mentioned.   The AI is extremely easy to exploit.  I found one or two of the special spells I liked and would procede to use them over and over again on the AI.  Against the tougher foes I would hang one in the air upside down, then stand behind them.  When they fell down I would simply stun them again before they could even attack me.  Later I found that charging up your wand and strafing counted as a "special spell" and allowed for bonus points.  I became essentially untouchable.  Dueling is fun in a shallow way during the main quest but after that you will find yourself doing it merely for the achievements.

Quidditch is the most simple of the mini-games.  You are on a guided path and all you have to do is move the analog stick up, down, left, or right so Harry goes through the stars.  That is all.  Hesitantly I will admit that this is fun, for like 10 minutes.  After that prepare to be feel strained everytime the game makes you play it.  It works and can get a little intense during the match for world cup but it doesn't really feel like an epic game of Quidditch is being played.  You are just trying to make it through the neon stars until they end and you win by grabbing the snitch.

If you haven't read the book and want to see the movie do not play this game.  It will spoil the movie yet you won't really know what's going on.  The game will show most of the major plot twists yet will offer little explanation for each event.  The game uses both in-game and a few cgi scenes to tell the story.  Most of the dialogue is both mechanical and awkward.  It doesn't help that most of th facial expressions are abysmal.  The awkwardness may have you laughing but chances are you will enjoy the story regardless of these minor nuances.

This game is strictly rental material.  Doing anything but renting would be completely foolish.  I suggest renting for 2 or 3 nights.  It takes about 3 hours to beat the main quest and you should be done around 4-6 if you are looking to get the most out of achievements.  If you are really into Harry Potter rent this.  It will be worth your time and the atmosphere of this game is surprisingly rich.  Just don't expect to get much out of it aside from a couple interesting mini-games.

Posted by mubress

Completely agree. Good review.

Posted by Dudacles

Nice review.

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