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Normally video-game movie tie-in's are half-hearted and rushed affairs, trying to make a quick buck from whatever film franchise they are based upon. Happily, this wasn't the case with the last Harry Potter game to hit the Nintendo Wii ('Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'), which was a surprisingly decent effort that allowed the player free roam of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. It also featured varied and thoughtful gameplay with a variety of hidden extras to collect along the way. Therefore, I had high hopes for the recently released 'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince', in which developers EA have attempted to diversify the gaming experience by adding Potion-Making, 'Active Dueling' and the ability to partake in Quidich training and matches - sound promising? Read on to find out whether it's any good.
The story is based around Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, in which he must once again combat the forces of darkness in order to save the wizarding world. Along the way, our eponymous hero meets new potions teacher Horace Slughorn, who, like his predecessor Severus Snape, may be hiding a deep and dark secret...
The main game is mission based, and follows the general story which I have outlined above - those of you who have seen the film or read the book will know exactly what to expect. The general gameplay is actually very linear - disappointingly so in fact. You'll be constantly asked to go and meet one of your friends in a particular part of the castle grounds in order to advance the story further. When you get there, you'll either have to, a) play some Quiddich, b) mix some potions, or c) take part in a duel - it gets incredibly repetitive after a while, and there isn't any real variation to these three basic activities.
Quiddich is disappointing, and nowhere near as fun as it sounds in either the book or the film. All you have to do is fly though a series of star shaped targets by aiming the Wii pointer in their general direction. You do get a great sense of speed whilst flying around on your broomstick, and the graphics are great - but Quiddich is just too easy, and it gets really repetitive when you've done it twenty or so times!
The second of the new core activities, Potion Making, is thankfully a bit more fun - although like Quiddich, it does get boring after a while. The player is shown a view of a cauldron on a table with bottles of various coloured ingredients scattered alongside. It's your job (well, technically, Mr Potter's job) to follow the recipe instructions which appear on screen, and brew the correct coloured concoction within the allotted time. Here, the controls are very responsive, and tilting the Wii remote to represent pouring out liquids from glass containers, surprisingly feels like the real thing. On the whole it may sound a little simple, but later in the game some of the advanced potions that you have to make can be quite testing - especially as you're up against the clock.
The final new activity, 'dueling', is a pastime which is fun at first until the novelty wears off. Here, Harry must battle his enemies using his extensive grasp of defensive and attacking spells. This section of the game involves a lot of wrist wiggling in order to send powerful jinxes flying from the end of your wand, and it will certainly result in sore arms! There are various spells to be learnt along the way, although many of these are performed in a similar manner to each other, which means it can be difficult to remember which is which. If you do enjoy dueling, then you can sign up to various dueling clubs during the game, which is quite a nice touch.
Unfortunately the reliance on Quiddich, Potions, and Dueling makes for a game which lacks the unpredictable appeal that its predecessor had. If you wish, you can choose to wander off at your leisure and collect the Hogwarts Crests which are scattered around the place - but this is basically *all* you can do away from the main story, meaning there is little incentive to go off and explore. Exploration was one of the main elements that dragged the previous game above the usual run-of-the-mill movie tie-in, and it's this aspect which is sorely missed from this year's effort.
In terms of the control system, the Wii version is undoubtedly the best of all the main consoles - and with its motion-sensitive capabilities it certainly should be. Using the Wii Remote to cast spells feels like you're holding a wand - it's great fun, and most of the time it's very responsive. Harry is moved around using the Nunchuk's analogue stick, which is a fairly straightforward and effective method - yet more advanced controls like crouch and jump have sadly been neglected from the game completely.
Like its predecessor, the graphics seen throughout Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince are superb. Yes, it may sound a little odd using such a superlative for a Wii title, but they really are top-notch. The Hogswarts castle and grounds are replicated in sublime detail, and the player is able to see far into the distance without any severe examples of pop-up. Similarly, jagged edges are kept to a minimum, and the lighting effects are excellent - walking through some of the dimly lit corridors is a joy, especially when the last rays of evening light are streaming through the windows - top stuff. Basically, it's the most impressive use of graphics on the Wii to date.
Unfortunately the cut scenes aren't quite so impressive - here, the characters which we have grown so accustomed to over the years, have a rather freakish appearance, and in particular, the hair effects look rather blocky and unconvincing.
From an audio perspective, the game is a bit of a mixed bag. Although Rupert Grint reprises his role from the film, the majority of the characters are voiced by 'sound-alikes'. Some of these mimics do an OK job - for example, the guy who plays Harry Potter (Adam Sopp) actually sounds a lot like Daniel Radcliffe, so much so, that I thought it actually was him. Sadly though, much of the voice acting is poor - especially the guy who plays Gryffindor ghost 'Nearly Headless Nick' (normally voiced by John Cleese), who sounds utterly ridiculous. Similarly, the chap who has taken on Michael Gambon's Dumbledore is quite unauthentic.
Thankfully, the iconic soundtrack, with its dramatic orchestral swells, is in full flow, and really grounds the game into the Harrry Potter universe. It's a rousing and uplifting piece which really gets you in the mood for a bit of Pottering around, if you'll pardon the pun.
In terms of the longevity, the gaming experience will be done and dusted by average gamers in around four or five hours, which really is scraping the barrel for a video-game these days. There are no real challenges to keep players coming back for more, and as the only thing to collect is the Hogwarts Crests (there are only one-hundred-and-fifty of those in total), there is very little replay value.
Although it's primarily a single player game, a dueling mode has been added, which can be accessed from the main menu. This allows two players to battle it out casting spells at each other, and whilst this may sound like a pleasing addition, the fact that dueling is a rather repetitive art makes this a short lived and ill-conceived game mode.
In conclusion, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a game of two half's - graphically it's superb, and will certainly gain admirers with its depiction of the castle and grounds - yet the gameplay is average at best, and definitely represents a step backward from the previous title. Although the addition of Quiddich, dueling, and potion-making, gives the player a few more gimmicks to experience, the lack of things to find and interact with outside of the main story (something which made the previous game so much fun) results in a game which is ultimately lacking - recommended for the stunning graphics and ability to explore Hogwarts only.
You can currently purchase Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the Wii for £22.76 from amazon.co.uk.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is the game that is based on the book and primarily the film. The difference between this game on the wii to other consoles, is the way in which you can use the control. The wii remote is used as a wand and different movements will cast different spells. This made the game a lot more entertaining especially when you are duelling as you can get very involved.
Apart from the controls, the game was a bit of a disappointment. The game seemed centred around duelling, making potions and quidditch. Although these were fun, I wanted more within the game. The part where I thought would be very entertaining was when Dumbledore and Harry leave Hogwarts to look for a horcrux. This turned out to be the biggest disappointment. The game merely showed you what was happening for the most part, as was the case with so many events. It was easy to finish the game but to make it more challenging they do have different difficulty settings.
As with the other games, you are allowed to roam the school where there are different duelling clubs to join and a potions club. You have to hep out students to earn shields. You have to try and get all shields throughout the school. This makes roaming round he school have more of a purpose.
Overall, I think this is a good game for light entertainment. The best parts of the game would be the different duels especially with characters such as Bellatrix Lestrange. Even though this game is easy to finish, it is enjoyable mainly because of the way you use the wii remote.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is an adventure game that ties in with the book and movie for the Nintendo Wii.
The story follows the adventures of Harry Potter during his sixth year at the wizarding school of Hogwarts, the books main focus is to give some insight to Voldemorts character and to set up the conclusion to the series, the plot in the game is very abridged omitting far to much from the book and the game skims over the events it does cover very briefly in say a ten second cutscene giving you hardly any time to realise what is going on. If you are looking for a deep and engaging story you probably should watch the movie or better yet read the book again.
The gameplay follows one of three things, as Harry you can play Quidditch, mix potions in lessons and potions club and engage in wizarding duels.
Your main lesson will be potions classes where you go into a minigame to mix magical potions, the game is surprisingly good and makes use of the Wii remote to make you stir the potion, fan the flames, add in new ingredients, shake up ingredients to make the potion more explosive! If you mess it up you will even have to clear the smoke with a wave of the Nunchuck.
The game omits every other magical lesson that is offered at Hogwarts which is a real shame, where are Transfiguration, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures (Hagrid doesn't even appear in the game!), Defense agains the Dark Arts?!
Wizarding duels are the games main form of combat, you can take part in duelling lessons which will enable Harry to learn various new spells such as Expelliarmus which is supposed to disarm opponents but in the game it knocks them to the floor, Levicorpus which hoists opponents into the air by their ankles, Protego protects Harry from attacking spells. As well as attacking with basic stunning spells of your own, though you can abuse this system by shaking the remote which will send a barrage of stunners at your opponent. The duels are fairly fun even if the game doesnt always regonise your motions, there is even a two player mode.
Quidditch is the weakest gameplay element, you play as Harry the seeker and fly through rings to catch the golden snitch and achieve victory, just point the Wii remote at the rings and Harry does the rest.
Hogwarts is available in full for you to explore from the top of the Astronomy tower to the Quidditch grounds you can go all the way from one end to the other with no load times at all, if you are lost simply call up Nearly Headless Nick and he will lead you to your destination.
Graphically the game is good providing accurate representations of the
characters from the movies though not all of them are voiced by the movies cast.
If it wasn't so short and didn't omit nearly all of the story this could have been an excellent game, sadly as is it fails to rise above mediocrity.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defences and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information.