There are many things in the world that cause depression, such as a bad break-up, the thought of attending a Twi-athalon, and Gordon Brown. Something else that’s rather depressing is knowing that something bad is inevitable, and this is exactly what I was thinking as I sat down for game 4 of the Harry Potter series.
And I wasn’t wrong.
Remember the slippery slope I mentioned when talking about the Chamber of Secrets game? Well that slope just got a hell of a lot steeper...like...vertical. This wasn’t a slide in the quality of the game, this was a flat-out fall.
Okay, so the same formula was used for games 2 and 3, so maybe a new one was needed? Fair enough. But my question is this: Why...oh god why did they decide to scrap the freedom and joy of an open world game and replace it with a linear, structured game that offers little to no exploration?
The entire game spans about 7 levels, each with a number of shields hidden around them. When you grab a shield, the mission ends. You get taken back to the central hub where you re-enter that, or a previous mission to take a different, and equally as linear route to another shield. When you have enough shields, you unlock the next level. Rinse and repeat.
“Hey,” I hear you say, “At least there’s a number of levels to play!” Well dear friend, the problem is that each level is exactly the same. They just look slightly different. Each level has you doing four things – shooting wave after wave of cookie-cutter enemies (which requires no thought or aim, as the spells just lock onto the target and home in, just mash the shoot button and you’re done), levitating various things in order to destroy or climb over obstacles, putting out fires and pulling open doors.
What makes it worse is that you get a tutorial for all of this at the beginning of the game, and once you’ve done that, you’ve done it all. You might as well stop at the first level and save yourself the pain and boredom that awaits.
“Hey,” I hear you say again, “Goblet of Fire can’t be that bad, it has the return of Lord Voldemort and an incredibly climactic battle at the end! That’s pretty cool!” And you would be right! The story for Goblet of fire is great...it’s just a shame that the game has barely any connection to the original plot. Aside from 3 levels where you participate in Tri-Wizard Tasks, there is very little, to no connection to the franchise. The enemies are random, the voice acting is pretty dodgy, and the locations? A forest. A rooftop. Somewhere else.
Somewhere else. Blah...blah...blah.
And as for the climactic battle? Yeah, there’s a battle with Voldy. Yeah, there’s a chance to redeem itself. It’s been falling for a long time, let’s at least nail the landing.
But no. The ending is a graceful, and spectacular...faceplant. The final battle in the graveyard is (in my opinion) one of the biggest wasted opportunities in videogame history. Rather than directly battle him, you enter Prior Incantatum (a connection between the two wands with a powerful ball of energy at the centre – for anyone who isn’t a Potterhead) and the entire level consists of manoeuvring so that the ball of energy hits the skeletons, and the big floating statue that wants to crush you.
Then that’s it, game over.
Luckily, after this glorious face-plant, things start to go uphill with Order of the Phoenix, and with tears of joy in my eyes, I put the Goblet of Fire game back into it’s box, and pushed waaaaaayyy back to the dark recesses of my game drawer. Never again.