Sunday, August 7, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Review

For as long as I can remember Harry Potter has been a part of my life. This once in a century phenomenon has rose to be the biggest book and film series ever and not even a group of pasty vampires could overthrow the massive empire based around a single wizard. With every movie release has come a game that while not setting records like the other mediums, has provided a fun experience in the world of Hogwarts. The first six games as well as spin-offs such as Harry Potter Quidditch World Cup and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 have allowed for a movie tie-in, they have also provided the fun adventuring aspect Hogwarts has to offer. Last year we received Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 with Kinect support, a title that was absolutely drilled by reviewers and critics alike. The developers had only a year to change this game and send the series out in style or risk a 3rd party developer in TellTale Games taking that honour when LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is released later this year.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a commendable game, but is far from perfect. Gone is Kinect support, but the linear path that basically follows the movies plot stays. There is quite a bit of improvement over the first game and having a meaningful ending to the game is definitely a plus over the anti-climatic finish to Part 1. The developers aren't to blame for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2, as they are trying to make the best out of a movie plot that simply can't be merged into a solid game that stays true to the story. Gone is the free roaming of Hogwarts as Harry, Ron and Hermione follow a direct path to destroy all of the Horcruxes. While this game can be fun at times, repetition and blatant areas of the game which will just simply irritate Harry Potter purists stop this game making the best of a bad situation.


Harry Potter has never been a bad looking game, but in current generation titles the art style has moved into a more realistic approach. Character models are generally acceptable even though lip syncing and general movements in cutscenes aren't the flashest looking moments in the game. The linear environments you spend your time wandering through are generally detailed and look great despite for many of the same items reappearing constantly, such as barriers to hide behind. One big aspect that hasn't been flexed by any of the previous games are explosions and effects from the many spells you cast in the game. The more physical approach to fighting in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 allows for more brutal effects to come from attacking enemies. Launching a massive attack at an enemy and watching them fly back before disapparating never got old and the uniqueness of every spell was a welcome addition.

The entire series has never had the characters being voiced by their actual human counterparts. Ever since the first game they have had to make do with impersonators who have generally done a good job at imitating the characters. While the main characters such as Harry, Ron and Hermione and recreated almost flawlessly, other characters such as Voldemort are shockingly bad and really deters from the experience of this being a true movie tie-in. The dialogue in the game also leaves alot to be desired. The game jumps from stating word by word what was in the movie to missing out key lines that would help fill in the story for those who haven't seen the film. Some lines have been dumbed down and just simply state something that even a two year old would have figured out. The cutscenes infuriated myself who has seen the film and hated the perfect recreation of some sections to the obvious shortcuts taken in others. As well as the limited lines of dialogue in game, the attempt to tell a story to someone who has never seen Harry Potter before is poor at best.


Life for Harry has never been darker than in the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Gone are the days of fun Charms classes with Professor Flitwick as they are replaced with wave after wave of Death Eaters who are attempting to kill anyone who gets in the way of Voldemort's plan to kill Harry Potter. The genre of this game has changed as a result, with this title being primarily a third person shooter. This is an interesting twist on the game and is probably the only way they could have built a game out of this movie.
You have an array of spells at your disposal that act like different weapons. They range from a quick fire weapon that reels off bursts of magic at your opponent to even a sniper rifle. These are pretty cool and the strategy of having to rotate being an array of spells using a simple button system is quite fun. The one issue I have with the spells is the names that they have used. Expelliarmus, a spell most will know as a method of disarming another wizard, is used to break a wizards Protego shield. Every now and then you will need to protect Hermione has she opens a door using Alohamore for in excess of 3 minutes. Quirks like this will annoy the most hardcore Potter fans as the basics of the world have been changed.

Unlike most previous games, you are able to control more than just the main trio. Special missions such as Seamus' attempt to plant charges on the Hogwarts bridge or Professonal McGonagall's fight to hold of a wave of Death Eaters and two giants are cool ways to mix up the game. Sadly though, the majority of the game follows one basic formula. The aim of the game seems to be run to a place with conveniently placed cover, wait for Death Eaters to spawn, kill the Death Eaters, move onto the next area and repeat. By the time you reach the end of the game you will be absolutely sick of this system and will probably vow to never play a cover shooter again.

Luckily though, for those just wanting to end the experience you will be happy to know that this game is terribly short. There are reports of the game being finished in under 3 hours. It took me a bit more but for a full priced game it is hard to recommend this kind of content. There is a challenge mode which is basically going through levels and getting timed for the chance to win a medal and a few achievements, but it really adds nothing to the game.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 isn't the definitive send off to the series that we were given by the film. The game has been hurt by having only a 12 month period to develop a game and fix all the major issues of the last title, as well as a movie plot that can't simply be transformed into a fun game. While all the blame can't be put onto the developers, the very short playing time and repetitive elements of the game make this product something that will struggle to entertain anyone other than the true Harry Potter fans. While there are some good improvements in the game and certain fun elements towards the end of the game, it is definitely hard to recommend Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as a full price game.

Graphics - 5.5/10
Sound - 5/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Overall - 5.5/10