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Ok, the first thing I will admit is how much I enjoy Harry Potter, and how good the first 3 games were, and how much of a disappointment the 4th game was, so naturally I was excited when I saw the 5th game was to be a free roaming environment, with an entirely explorable Hogwarts, and I was incredibly looking forward to it. This only made me even more disappointed upon playing it. The castle within the game is huge, and was fun to explore for a little while. However for some reason, the vast majority of the gameplay involves Harry walking around the castle looking for all the members of DA. The dueling is a great idea but it gets repetitive very quickly. Other than this, and exploring, there is not very much more that this game has to offer, as I was very disappointed at the fact there is no Quidditch in this installment. I was also disappointed at the fact there is no flying around the castle (whether it be by broomstick or by Hippogriff) as with the previous games. In conclusion, Order of the Phoenix could have been a fantastic game, however the unpolished feeling, the boring gameplay, repetitive dueling and the lack of Quidditch all contribute to an ultimately boring game that does nothing to capture the magic from the books.
I thought the first Harry Potter game was great fun but since then they have gotten worse and worse, but is this more of the same? The game is much better with some great graphics that make you feel like you are really there. This makes it really fun and exciting to play.
You will play through the events of the book and complete levels to gain spells. There are lots of battles which are great and plenty against the bullies and at the end you have to defeat the dark lord. The annimation during the battles are great and still look good today.
It is also a little different as you can use the Sixaxis to wave your wand! This adds something extra to the gameplay and makes it more fun and different.
The graphics are very good and the soundtrack is fun. The game has some framerate issues but this isn't major.
The game is very fun to play and has some great annimation and some great gameplay pulling you into Hogwarts! You will be hooked from start to finish making it a great purchase. However, non-potter fans may not know the story but it is still good to play. The game also doesn't have a good replay value and isn't worth playing over and over again.
Name: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Released: June 2007, PS3
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Average Professional Score: 7 out of 10
RRP: £24.99 - cheapest online store is thehut.com at £17.83
You may like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix if you liked:
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (PS3)
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (PS3)
I have never been a fan of movie licensed computer games, probably due to their undeveloped gameplay, rushed definitely abridged storyline and simple structure that lacks any real depth. As usual though, I gave in and tried this 3D adventure that coincided with the film of the same name. Critics seemed pretty impressed with it as it scored an average of 7 out of ten, which is fairly decent. Would my scepticism shine through or would I be pleasantly surprised?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is based on the fifth novel of the series, where Harry Potter and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger are back yet again at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After last years outing, few people believed that the devastating meeting between Harry and Voldemort took place and so generally thing have calmed down.
However, the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher seems hell bent on taking over the school and eventually succeeds in replacing Dumbledore as the new headmaster. Desperate to protect himself by learning new spells, Harry Potter forms a secret army with his friends, if Voldemort strikes again; Dumbledore's Army would be ready.
I have got to be honest, I have not read the fifth instalment so I cannot critic the storyline in terms of progression from the series as a whole, but in terms of the game, it is extremely rushed. The cutscenes are very subtle and not greatly structured. It assumes you already know the events from either the film or the novel and that is perfectly reasonable, but on the whole, it does nothing to reiterate the themes or even the excitement. I suppose you could argue that this fits nicely for its young audience to follow without getting too bored with longer cutscenes. What it doesn't do however is progress into something interesting or eye catching.
This is all simply due to the scattered cutscenes that surely do not do the novel any justice. It just doesn't stick together very well to form a coherent story and relies too much on the fact that it is indeed a game about Harry Potter. This was to be first of many let downs for me about this game.
Visually is where Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix fairs well, with a heavily detailed character design engine that captures the very thing fan would want. Authenticity. A wonderful texture has been created to each character as they look extremely like their movie counterpart. This is done by their facial recognition software, resulting in a fine, intricate detailed map of each person. It is true, graphics do not make a game, but it helps it become much more healthier.
However, sadly Electronic Arts didn't use as much detail for the rest of the visuals. Buildings and objects are fully rendered in 3D all with a decent amount of graphical design, but the main problem is that it just lacks an edge, meaning there really isn't any atmosphere created. Sure, you are running around Hogwarts school, but the look and feel of it suggests it could be any random castle made of grey blocks.
This is a big disappointment, especially for the PS3 version, because even the magical lighting effects fail to dazzle and wow you with little imagination and a PS2 kind of feel. Perhaps the biggest let down is the animation which in this console should be smooth and life like, but instead is heavy, jerky and most definitely chopped together. What this ultimately does is put you off from playing because it just doesn't feel like you are getting anywhere and it becomes very lacklustre very fast.
On the theme of authenticity, EA felt it absolutely crucial to have the true actors put their voices into the game. They were right. Nearly all of the characters are dubbed by the exact actors from the film and this is a nice touch because it takes it one step further to being just like the film. It also makes it have that little bit more realistic approach for its younger audience. The only disappointment is that the voice acting is a bit tame and not very believable.
I'm afraid to say that it is no big surprise either that the other sound effects in the game also lack something special just like the graphics aforementioned. The light and recognisable Harry Potter theme sings throughout the game and echoes can be heard from around corners as well as times of dramatic bangs and clashes obviously used to pace up moments. This all sounds good, but for me it just becomes a bit overused leading it to become predictable and seems very fake and because it lacks believability, it lacks ambience.
It's all very well criticizing a game on the issues raised, but it is how it plays that matters the most. For this outing, developers have changed the entire focus from past instalments, making this action orientated adventure a sandbox title. What this means is that it plays a little like GTA, where you are free to wander around your environment choosing to carry on with the main story at your own leisure. This is a great idea, with over 85 different locations to explore and find secrets in, gives this whole game a new level of depth and freedom expelling any linear problems of past games.
Hogwarts is huge and when i say huge i mean huge. When following the main story this actually becomes a problem as many of the game's missions simply are to find Ron, or go to the library, or Hagrid is waiting for you at location N whilst professor Dumbledore needs to see you at location T. It becomes tiresome almost instantly by travelling from place to place and it gets very boring.
There are times of action though in the form of duels, where you can spell cast a whole list of magics to overcome your opponent. There are two types of spells in the game, combat spells and Non combat spells. Combat spells are split down into two further types, attacking and defending. Confused yet? It is a bit mind boggling at first, but it does add a nice variety to the game, something I was quite impressed with. Stupefy and Petrificus Totalus are for instance attacking spells where as Protego is a defensive spell. Non combat spells are used to complete puzzles or various tasks in the game, for example Wingardium Leviosa is used to levitate objects where as Incendio is used to burn objects.
These spells play a vital role in the game and instead of pressing the X button or the O button to simply cast any of them, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix uses a more innotive style of Gameplay. Performing these spells consist of a combination of moving the right analogue stick and the entire controller. So for instance moving the stick clockwise once, then anticlockwise once and then flicking the controller forward would indeed cast a magic spell. Using the sixaxis motion sensor is entirely fascinating and thoughtful as not only does it make the gaming experience different, but it also gets the player more involved which is exactly what all games should aim to do.
The downside is that with a whole list of different spells it becomes quite hard to remember each combination of directions linked to each of the spells. Another, more important problem, is the entire sixaxis system altogether as I think it just doesn't recognise sometimes what you are doing. By the time you've managed to pull off a spell, one you've been trying to do for ages, your opponent has already de-wanded you and is on the verge of winning the duel. But nonetheless, it is fun using a more interactive control system where your own thinking can make or break you.
The puzzles in the game are a little obvious, but you would expect that, making it more accessible for a younger audience. There is a whole basket full of secrets to unlock including behind the scene videos, cast interviews, cheats and new areas which all can be bought by spending 'discovery points'. These points are obtained by using magic to interact with your environment, for example moving boxes or raising rugs. This adds a very 'platform' sort of feel to the game, but one you come to presume in movie based games. This is a successful method as it is simple enough to do for younger players, but all of them are not as obvious which could appeal to more experienced players. There are a lot of points to find and spend which makes the game replay value slightly higher for hardcore fans who want to unlock every single secret.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix isn't a great game as it lacks a decent story and the gameplay is just a little bit too boring. Despite having a fantastic facial engine, the rest of the game borders on just being average enough to capture some gamers attention and it fails to spark any addictiveness which could keep players with it. It does have an innotive battle system that is original and tactful, but just not thought out in full detail. With its shoddy cut scenes, lame acting and overly simple feel, I'm afraid it just isn't worth full price. Fans could find something here, but that is because it mostly revolves around the fact that its a game about Harry Potter, action adventure fans would tire very easily and would benefit looking elsewhere.
I must admit to never really getting into the whole Harry Potter thing, yes, shame on me! For some strange reason, when EA released 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' for the Sony PS3, I was drawn to it like a magnet and just had to take a look.
Previous incarnations of the Harry Potter games seemed to lack something in the magic department, they just seemed to try and do too much magic. In this latest offering EA have nailed it right on the head, the atmosphere of the whole game is spot on, you really feel like you are right there with Harry and the gang in Hogwarts. This feeling is mainly due to the superb graphics and textures that are very detailed and accurate.
To keep the game moving along you have to complete over 30 tasks, learning spells along the way. You also unlock discovery points which in turn make your spells even more powerful. This allows you to unlock even more secrets and certainly kept my interest locked in. There are plenty of battles to be won, which have you twirling your wand, casting spells to defeat nasty kids and even the Dark Lord. During these spell casting battles, you will be impressed by the graphics, and the animation of Harry who reacts in some really cool ways to victory or defeat. Of course the main objective is to defeat your opponent, but paralyzing them is very effective.
The PS3 adds some six-axis controller features, and although they don't seem that accurate, being able to wave your controller to wave Harry's wand is a nice touch. I do not think Sony's six-axis will ever be that accurate, so it was nice to see EA at least implement it in some way.
In summary, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a nice rounded game. Interesting game play, different on-screen battles (rather than awful cut scenes), a nice control method and good sound. Above all, what really stands out is the atmosphere of the game. It really makes you feel part of it, and has you coming back for more. This is certainly one you won't put down until you have finished it.
Note: I am the original author of this review on www.geekanoids.co.uk