After the terrible ordeal that was “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, I searched deep within my soul, and after a lot of digging, heavy breathing and a little crying, I found the will to go on. I took Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix from its place on my shelf and watched my hungry PS3 (another console upgrade? Hell yeah) greedily take the disc from my hand.
So this is where I would normally make a comment about the last Harry Potter game falling from the slippery slope it was on, and landing face first in the mud. I might then go on to say that in the Order of the Phoenix and the Half-Blood Prince games, the franchise picks itself up and dusts itself off, before starting on the steady (yet brief) journey uphill. That is what I could say. However I feel that I’ve exhausted this metaphor, and so will opt for a simpler statement. Something along the lines of “the last game sucked, but the next two aren’t so bad”.
The last game sucked, but the next two aren’t so bad. When I began playing the Order of the Phoenix game, the passion in my soul that was ignited by the first game, had simmered down to nothing more than a...um...well it was more or less gone. Luckily for me, OotP had just the right amount of charm to throw some fuel on my fire! That being the fire that was in my soul. Or the thing that used to be fire but is now...whatever, I need to lay off the metaphors. The point is, OotP is the turning point in the series, and more than redeems itself for GoF’s mistakes.
For starters, we have an entirely new spell casting system. You have a set amount of spells, and to cast each one, you must move your analogue stick in a certain motion. For example, rotating it clockwise for one spell, counter clockwise for another, wiggle left and right, up and down, etc etc. As you learn more powerful spells, the sequences to cast them will get more complicated. This gives a feeling of realism never before seen in a Harry Potter game. Obviously it’s not real, but moving the sticks to cast the spells really makes you feel like you’re casting spells yourself, rather than pressing buttons to make it happen.
The combat system has also been improved to its best level. Throughout the game, you will participate in duels with other students and Death Eaters, and will battle using all the spells in your arsenal. These encounters are very fast paced, and also done extremely well. You are eased into the system, rather than thrown headfirst, and before you know it, you’ll be throwing up protective spells before blasting your foes with something more offensive. All of these offensive and defensive spells can be strung together, and flow beautifully into powerful combos.
|Look! Pretty colours!|
All of this is complimented by how good the game looks. The character models are a little pale, and the movements are a little stiff, but this can be overlooked when you see the rest that the game has to offer. Moving past the bland looking spell effects that we saw in GoF, we’re back to colourful and beautiful flashes of light, each colour signifying a different spell.
But hold up! Colourful spells aren’t the only treat in store! We’ve now been returned to an open world game, allowing you to once again roam free through Hogwarts. The game promises to show you Hogwarts as you’ve never seen it before; a promise that OotP lives up to in spectacular fashion. For the first time ever, you can go from one end of Hogwarts to the other, exploring every nook, cranny and classroom along the way, without a single loading screen. The entire world has been pre-rendered for you, allowing you to go through a door and come straight out on the other side, no waiting!
It would seem that the developers spotted their mistake with GoF, and in taking a step backwards, they took another two forward.
With all of this said, there really isn’t much more to be said about the Half-Blood Prince game. It’s much more story-based, although this doesn’t neglect the open world exploration, and aside from a few graphical updates, the HBP game is pretty much the same. Once again the creators found a formula that works, and stuck with it, so kudos to them! Now, with the end in sight, I start on the last leg of this saga. Pity we can’t go out on a high note, but that’s a tale for another time. Until then, keep on playing!