By Ben Gilbert
Last November, our review called the first Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows game a “failure on many, many levels.” It ran down the various ways that the game didn’t deliver: as a representation of the franchise, as a game, as a demonstration of Kinect and, finally, as an overall product.
EA’s proprietary engine, used to build DH Part 2, has been beefed up a bit, giving Harry and co. a bit more sheen than before, and the spell-switching has been streamlined to rely on face buttons to swap spells. Otherwise, it’s still a pedestrian third-person shooter with a Harry Potter wrapper, with few meaningful ties to J.K. Rowling’s series. (And the Kinect part is just gone).
Remember the part where Harry was taught how to rapidly fire his wand — but not too rapidly! — just so his “Stupefy” spell didn’t fly too wildly? Or when he learned about the spell that would zoom in and deliver a one-hit “kill?” Neither does anyone else who’s read a Harry Potter book or seen the Harry Potter films, because that doesn’t happen.
The last DH title arrived less than a year ago, and with the sequel set to launch in just a few weeks, it’s clear that the team hasn’t had time to fix the issues that plagued the first game — let alone the dubious premise.
DH Part 2 has players controlling Harry and a host of other Hogwarts regulars as they blast their way through the hordes of Death Eaters that besiege their school. Unfortunately, it seems that any sense of danger or fear that one might ascribe to such a scenario is removed by the lackluster enemy AI, the player character’s near infinite endurance, and one boring environment after another.
Walls explode around you, spells fly in every direction, and Harry couldn’t be calmer, taking cover at your command and openly firing on several enemies at once. Part of this ease can be credited to the game’s streamlined spell switching, which is now mapped to the pad’s face buttons rather than the D-pad, but the rest is a result of poor enemy AI and dull combat mechanics. Players are limited to six spells, though in my experience the vast majority of the time is spent with one of the two rapid-fire spells and the stun spell (which breaks shields).
In a different level, I was able to apparate (i.e. teleport) with Harry directly into cover, which is one of the few interesting wrinkles in combat I noticed. If greater power makes things more interesting, it’s a consolation that you’ll be able to replay the title with a souped-up Harry in harder difficulty modes.
If you’re a big fan of third-person shooters, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will very likely disappoint. If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, this game seems destined to break your heart. I’m not sure who this game is made for — aside from ignorant parents trying to please young children, perhaps — but it sure does release in the same week as the film it’s based on.
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