Developer: EA Bright Lights
According to the back of the game, “this spells war”. Well, I suppose that’s more sales and marketing friendly than “this spells two hours of frustrated gaming before you throw it out of the window”. That might suck as a tag line but it’s probably understatement in terms of things such as truth and accurate reviewing.
There haven’t been many games this year that have made me as angry as this dark and gloomy wizarding tie-in. And, before you write me off as some grumpy old man who hates Harry Potter, let me set that record straight. The first point I’d concede happily, although I’ve long thought – well, since my 40th birthday anyway – that the programmes is incorrectly titled and should be called “Men of Maturity with a Perfectly Understandable Opinion”. As for Potter, since Book Three you’d have found me queuing at midnight for my copy.
What I do detest though is shoddy tie-ins, badly paced, horribly animated, deeply repetitive games with clunky controls and boring challenges. The most exciting, novel thing that happens to you in the first couple of levels is “find the kitchen”. Need I go on?
The most annoying thing? This final book, even in the two halves dictated by the film company, is the one that should lend itselfmost to both the big and little screen. Big fights with Death Eaters, aerial battles, sinister places to be explored: it’s got video game written all over it.
So, quick recap of the plot? Voldemort’s back, over the years he’s hidden bits of his soul in devices called Horcruxes and Harry (plus Hermione and Ron) have to roam the wizarding world to find and destroy them. Only then can Voldemort be killed. Clearly Voldemort isn’t too keen on that happening, so has servants in the wizard and muggle worlds trying to stop Potter et al.
In the game version, that equates to run around gloomy scenery, either shooting things – with various spells you pick up along the way – or using the stealth approach allowed by Harry’s cloak of invisibility. Appropriately, the first spell you get to use is Stupefy and you’ll rapidly realise what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of one.
Make a mistake and you’ll have to repeat the entire scene – frequently with dull dialogue. Try and use the game’s few variations – other potions, new spells, etc – and at best you’ll end up laughing at the sheer clunkiness of it all. Find shelter from a Death Eater’s attack and the camera comes up behind you so close that you can’t see anything and you’ll have to stand up and bear the brunt of his / her wand anyway. Try and switch from a spell to throwing the relevant potion and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Move too quickly in the cloak and you’ll become visible. Not that there’s any onscreen instruction to that effect; no, you’ll just have to repeat that particular scene from the start time and time again until you realise the triangle on-screen is some sort of cloak power indicator.
Even by the standards of quick movie tie-ins, this is a nadir. It’s even worse, of course, because the book has been available for a couple of years meaning they couldn't have been that unaware of what was required. That alone should have given The Deathly Hallows a little variation, or a sense that it stood alone, apart from the film, with the confidence to do its own thing / create interesting side missions. Instead, it’s just plain bad, with poor voice work, poor animation (Harry looks like a Harry Enfield creation on more than one occasion) and a lack of thought that would be unforgivable on a free iPad download let alone one that bears the name of the world’s hottest franchise.
- It captures the dark mood of the story
- It’s certainly a departure from previous Harry Potter games
- There’s some satisfaction in blasting a Death Eater out of the sky the first few times.
- There’s considerably less satisfaction blasting a Death Eater out of the sky the 87th time.
- The controls are somewhere between “clunky” and “apparently random”
- Deathly Hallows? Deadly boring, more like.
The Short Version: Combat the big freeze this Christmas by setting this travesty on fire and dancing around it while it burns. Borderline criminal.