For years young Potterites have contented themselves with age-appropriate movie tie-ins. Now, however, they're deemed old enough to have a third-person shooter Potter.
The shooter stylings certainly fit the game and story well, although it's abundantly clear that this is EA Bright Light's first foray into third-person action. This is flagged up by just how unnecessary many of the game's features are. You'll be shown how you can take cover behind the scenery but an action such as this c wrecks the pace of the game. Besides, Harry can soak up enemy fire like a trooper, so you're never inclined to cower from your foes.
There's also a total surfeit of spells and abilities: you'll get a spell that turns dark wizards to your side and the gravity-gun-esque Wingardium Leviosa, but you'll barely use them because your usual damage attacks are quicker and just as much fun.
This 'Gears Of Wand' approach works well at a basic level then, but can feel a little flabby and rough around the edges. It shouldn't go unmentioned, either, that the Wii doesn't feel like the game's natural home: Harry's turning circle when you point your remote at the edge of the screen is just too slow, while there's significant slow-down in areas packed with enemies.
Bad For Your Stealth
This is made most clear in stealth sections in and around the Ministry of Magic that have you controlling Harry from a first-person perspective through the familiar gauze of the invisibility cloak. Getting discovered and running off to a quiet corner so you can hide again sounds fine on paper, but in the game it's a nightmare. It's easy to get found and when this happens the levels erupt into total insanity, graphical slow-down and loopy enemy AI that pretty much refuses to calm down.
This is a fun game, but there are more rough edges than a dodecahedron that's been chewed by the family pet. Levels are routinely recycled, the difficulty sometimes spikes sky-high, it's often tough to work out just who's a friend and who's a foe in the action, and the decision to splice non-storyline missions into the game proper robs momentum from affairs.
Hogwarts And All
It cannot be denied that for many Potter fans there'll be a certain thrill to exploring Grimmauld Place and hearing the angry cries of Sirius' ancestors, or in discovering Umbridge's pink and fluffy office in the Ministry of Magic. Despite its flaws, deep Harry Potter-ness can be found here, and that's certainly a welcome touch.
As movie tie-ins go this is a decent effort - but you'd need to have downed your body weight in butter-beer to claim that it didn't need a little more care, attention and (perhaps) experience in its creation.
This is an edited version of a review that will appear in the Christmas issue of Official Nintendo Magazine. For more in-depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts, buy the magazine when it goes on sale on Thursday 25 November.