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Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review

"I solemnly swear this is not up to much"

We were all set to review Harry's latest Wii adventure last November, when it was due out at the same time as the movie. The movie was then delayed until the summer, meaning the already-finished game had to sit tight for another seven months. Finally though, it's here.

As you'd expect, Half-Blood Prince is based on the book of the same name. The trouble is that this particular book doesn't actually see Harry travelling to many far-off lands and the majority of it takes place inside Hogwarts. What this has done is allowed the developers to create the most complete version of the school yet.

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We're Stupefied

Hogwarts is the central hub within which 95% of the missions are played, so it's no surprise that so much work has gone into it. It's also by far the most impressive technical aspect of the game, since the whole school and its surrounding grounds can eventually be explored at your own free will without any loading times.

The majority of the missions are split into three different gameplay mechanics. First (and most important) is duelling. Here you can use the Remote and Nunchuk to cast various spells while battling with enemies. Strangely, this gets easier as you play through the game. The first few battles are tricky but once you learn the Levicorpus spell you can hit them with that then run up to your stunned enemy and spam the basic Stupefy attack until you win. It really is as simple as that, all the way up to the end of the game. We beat the final boss in around 90 seconds like this.

As well as duelling you're also required to mix potions. This was the most enjoyable part of the game for us. It's Cooking Mama with controls that work perfectly. You're given a list of commands and have to perform them against a time limit, but for once in a Wii mini-game the commands make sense. Point at a jar, press A to lock your wand onto it and lift the Remote to pick it up, shake it with the Remote if you need to, then make a pouring motion until just enough has been added. As you get through the game the instructions get trickier but you always feel in control. That might not seem like a big deal but so many developers are quick to blame the 'limitations' of the Wii Remote for their rubbish controls, whereas this proves that with a bit of effort it can work well.

Disillusionment Charm

Finally there's Quidditch. It looks impressive but it's relatively simple: use the Remote's pointer to guide Harry through the various stars until they catch the Snitch and you win. Fun stuff but you're not likely to replay it once it's been done.

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We were really enjoying The Half-Blood Prince until we started getting a bit worried at how far we were into the story. After just three hours we were at the stage of the plot where Snape was talking to Draco about making the unbreakable vow, so this worried us because that's a fair bit into the book.

Turns out our worries were accurate. Another hour or so later and we'd seen that Dumbledore scene, then had a couple of easy duel battles and that was it - the game was over. Four hours of story (including cut-scenes) for 40 quid?

That's criminal. Especially when the game has been sitting untouched for seven months.

The argument will be that you can't just add stuff to the game - it has to follow the book. So how does this explain the mission an hour into the game where you have to use Wingardium Leviosa on Lavender Bell's bag to catch some possessed notebook pages that are flying around the room? That wasn't in the book, so would it have hurt for some more missions where you have to help out fellow pupils? To be fair to EA, once the main game's over you can work on finding the 150 hidden Hogwarts crests, but this just involves traipsing the corridors of Hogwarts until you see an emblem then either picking it up or finding an object to knock it loose. We like what they've done with Hogwarts, but when it becomes clear they expect us to run around it for hours to make up for the ridiculously short main story it feels a bit jarring.

Younger Harry Potter fans will probably really enjoy running aimlessly around Hogwarts and pretending that they're the titular wizard, but older gamers who actually want a bit of a challenge will feel like Muggles who've been mugged

Comments

19 comments so far...
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  1. Sabrewulf Thursday 2nd Jul 2009 at 11:25

    How disappointing :(

    They had all those extra months but just left it at a mere 4 hours of gameplay, just a little bit more than the length of a decent Wii Ware Title...

    I had this on pre-order and is posted now, so will make the most of it and take things slowly, sometimes developers really make me cry!!

  2. Krusty111 Thursday 2nd Jul 2009 at 14:03

    This is such a shame, EA could sooo much more with the Harry Potter series.

    Within 24hrs of getting OotP, I had completed it 100%, got all the chests etc.

    *Sigh*...

  3. jgri8105 Thursday 2nd Jul 2009 at 14:29

    disappointed by the 4 hours but i managed to squeeze the most out of ootp, although i will get this when its much cheaper

    fingers crossed for next years lego harry potter :)

  4. shadow.x Thursday 2nd Jul 2009 at 16:46

    oh, seriously??
    I thought that after OotP they would realise that a longer game would satisfy the fans. Really disappointing after i just literally pre-ordered it.
    Lets just hope that the last game is not seperated into 2 parts but as one. Maybe that will have to have a longer gameplay. E.A really have no excuse, after having an extra 7 months? Didnt anyone realise that it would be too short??
    The dual though that i got to play was superb, brilliant visuals for the spells. I hope that it stays that way!!!

  5. Deku Scrub142 Thursday 2nd Jul 2009 at 20:55

    Lavender Bell...the strange love child of Lavander Brown and Katie Bell? =/

    Also Quiditch was present in the PS2 games...

  6. Sabrewulf Friday 3rd Jul 2009 at 12:16

    Also Quiditch was present in the PS2 games...

    Oh yeah, and also there was Quidditch World Cup on the Gamecube wasn't there? You can't get much more quidditch in a game that is dedicated to the sport! :lol:

  7. McMario Friday 3rd Jul 2009 at 20:31

    I was really looking forward to this with the hype that it was the most technically advanced HP on Nintendo yet. Just like with the reviewer, it was all over within a few hours and I was back to the crests nonsense. Its still not up to much character wise and the voices are really dodgy (not all are voiced by the original actors - Prof McGonagall's accent goes between Scottish/Irish many a time!)

    Can see this as a trade-in unless loads of people have read these reviews and no-one'll take it back!!

    Save your 40 quid for something else, no matter how much a die hard HP fan you are

    Blackadder

  8. Deku Scrub142 Friday 3rd Jul 2009 at 20:56

    So I just finished this a few hours back. Personally I really disagree with the review. Here is why.

    I bought OOTP on the Wii when it first released due to it being the only current gen console I owned at the time. I loved it initially and played it to completion really quickly. But only one thing made it good the controlls. This idea was reinforced when I picked up OOTP on the PS3 just a few weeks ago. The game without motion controlls is just appaling.

    Yet I still bough HBP on the PS3 regardless of this and the game had me hooked from start to finish and was way more entertaining than OOTP. Sure OOTP was an hour or so longer, but so much of that game was filler which I was forced to do. Finding all the DA members was a chore as it was nearly always samey.


    Yes HBP is shorter but it dosent feel repetitive. Also sure I finished it today, but I haveonly done the potions that I was required to do. Have done no extra duels. and no extra quiditch.

    If you were intrested in this game then I think all of you should atleast give it a rent. |As even if the extras do not appeal to you you will have got to experiance th short but sweet story mode.

  9. ChrisONM Friday 3rd Jul 2009 at 22:31

    So I just finished this a few hours back. Personally I really disagree with the review. Here is why.

    I bought OOTP on the Wii when it first released due to it being the only current gen console I owned at the time. I loved it initially and played it to completion really quickly. But only one thing made it good the controlls. This idea was reinforced when I picked up OOTP on the PS3 just a few weeks ago. The game without motion controlls is just appaling.

    Yet I still bough HBP on the PS3 regardless of this and the game had me hooked from start to finish and was way more entertaining than OOTP. Sure OOTP was an hour or so longer, but so much of that game was filler which I was forced to do. Finding all the DA members was a chore as it was nearly always samey.


    Yes HBP is shorter but it dosent feel repetitive. Also sure I finished it today, but I haveonly done the potions that I was required to do. Have done no extra duels. and no extra quiditch.

    If you were intrested in this game then I think all of you should atleast give it a rent. |As even if the extras do not appeal to you you will have got to experiance th short but sweet story mode.


    I'm not saying the game's bad mate but in my opinion Ł40 is too much for a game that can be finished in a few hours. Not everyone can afford to splash out Ł40 when they feel like it: for many people these games have to last them a long time.

  10. mantisboy1 Saturday 4th Jul 2009 at 10:30

    The thing is companys have a habit of making good films into vile games.

  11. Ubahquiet Saturday 4th Jul 2009 at 14:59

    The thing is companys have a habit of making good films into vile games.

    70% isn't exactly vile, I would think.
    And if I recall correctly OOTP got about 80% or so.

    'Twas a shame, I was thinking of getting this. I'll probably get it if it comes down in price, 'til then I'll just get Another Code R to amuse myself.

  12. andmaggie Sunday 5th Jul 2009 at 09:44

    I'm still getting this, i'm a BIG fan and i've waited too long.

  13. Kolo67 Tuesday 14th Jul 2009 at 17:03

    I've just seen the advert for this. Looks really boring. Maybe they had to get this finished while it was out in the cinemas? I would never buy a movie tie-in. The only good one was Shrek 2 on the PS2.

  14. Smash-bros fan Tuesday 14th Jul 2009 at 17:39

    4 Hours? Wow thats pretty long compared to PS2 Chamber of Secrets

  15. MailToad94 Tuesday 14th Jul 2009 at 18:02

    Review: If only it were a little longer...

    That's what she said!

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


    I'm so sorry.

  16. Dragonfree97 Friday 17th Jul 2009 at 21:00

    Review: If only it were a little longer...

    That's what she said!

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


    ...o...k...

    What is the purpose of this, other than posting 1&1/2 lines of SMILIES on a page?


    ======================================================
    ======================================================

    I was gonna buy this. But now it got a score under 85% so I probably won't. Saw the film today - it's quite short, but good.

    I'm so sorry.

  17. abzywabzy Saturday 18th Jul 2009 at 12:27

    4 hours was pathetic, i saved my money up for ages for this and it was 4 hours! im a huge HP fan but i was WAY disappointed

  18. shadow.x Wednesday 22nd Jul 2009 at 22:56

    So I just finished this a few hours back. Personally I really disagree with the review. Here is why.

    I bought OOTP on the Wii when it first released due to it being the only current gen console I owned at the time. I loved it initially and played it to completion really quickly. But only one thing made it good the controlls. This idea was reinforced when I picked up OOTP on the PS3 just a few weeks ago. The game without motion controlls is just appaling.

    Yet I still bough HBP on the PS3 regardless of this and the game had me hooked from start to finish and was way more entertaining than OOTP. Sure OOTP was an hour or so longer, but so much of that game was filler which I was forced to do. Finding all the DA members was a chore as it was nearly always samey.


    Yes HBP is shorter but it dosent feel repetitive. Also sure I finished it today, but I haveonly done the potions that I was required to do. Have done no extra duels. and no extra quiditch.

    If you were intrested in this game then I think all of you should atleast give it a rent. |As even if the extras do not appeal to you you will have got to experiance th short but sweet story mode.


    I'm not saying the game's bad mate but in my opinion Ł40 is too much for a game that can be finished in a few hours. Not everyone can afford to splash out Ł40 when they feel like it: for many people these games have to last them a long time.

    Ł29.99 at Asda and Online retailers!
    =]

  19. Bobster Wednesday 29th Jul 2009 at 18:05

    I enjoyed it.short but cool.the castle is sooooooooo big i always get lost and they couled have used those extra months for something like...eploring hogsmaid and a bit more mini games. :)

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