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Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix - Review
Written by Dave E Destruction

First off, I should admit that I have never been a fan of Harry Potter in any of his many multi-faceted media carpet bombing campaigns. That said, I have nothing particularly against him either, so I merrily plumbed the disc into my Wiiís eager mouthpiece. I should have noticed itís grimace.

Harry Potter Screenshot
This game is very pretty. EA have clearly spent a lot of time on the 'Wow!' factor rendering of Hogwartís Academy ô in full three dimensional technicolour, populated by good looking but very stupid students, like Grange Hill meets Clueless. Anyone familiar with Rockstar's 'Canis Canem Edit' will feel strangely at home at first. But thatís when the game begins and the fun ends.

'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix', or 'Grand Theft Potter' as I shall refer to it from here on, is a very confused beast. It wants to give you the capacity to free roam around the Harry Potter universe, completing missions at your leisure and soaking up the spectacularly arty camera-angled ambience, but it doesnít want to help you do it. It tries, with itís guiding footstep / map system, but this falls down when the magical prints randomly disappear and leave you lost in the highly irritating moving staircase AGAIN. Unless you are an avid Potter-ite, you will spend hours wondering exactly where you went wrong.

Ron and Hermione follow you around gormlessly, just like in the films, getting in the way and offering irritating tit-bits of advice that rub your inability to navigate what is essentially a childrens game right in your face. As annoying as they are, Iím sure some fans will enjoy the group aspect, although it is completely and utterly undeveloped and flaccid. They do, however, provide the most fun in the game before you write them off entirely. In many places, Potter can use his 'Accio' spell to levitate and control objects ( a cool feature you WILL grow to hate as EA later flog the concept to death ). You can levitate a bench far into the horizon, then whip it back towards your band of intrepid heroes with great force, battering Weasley hard atop his furry little bonce and sending him crying to the floor. You can do this as often as you like with no negative effects, and I recommend you do. If you want your moneys worth, that is.

As I mentioned, the main game engine is built around completing a series of missions using Potterís mastery of magic, translated imaginatively to the Wii through use of the Wii-mote as Potterís wand. Each spell is controlled by a certain gesture with the controller and Nun-chuk, and they are fairly responsive. You can conjure fireballs and push and pull certain items of scenery to your hearts content as you run around, revealing secrets and repairing the rather dishevelled school for stat points. This is quite fun in itself, but you cannot complete the game through these means alone. There Is A Story Here after all.

The missions ruined this game for me. They are repetitive, clunky and unimaginative. Some objectives are really very awkward, such as the 'Rolling Some Meat Up A Hill' mission. Remember that from the film? Others are just highly irritating, such as the 'Move Some Horrible Endlessly Screaming Plants Around' ( the Mute button is essential here ). Virtually all the afore-mentioned seem to involve the 'Accio' command and some rather dodgy collision detection. At times, such as on the 'Pull Some Tarpaulins Down On A Boat' mission, the usually reliable camera hides the objectives, and you just want to scream. The puzzles and missions are supposed to provide the challenge, not the dodgy game build.

Iím sure that young Potter fans are still rejoicing over the release of this game, and of the formats available, the Wiiís movement sensitive control system seems to make this the most attractive platform to play it on. The graphics are pretty spectacular, the gameplay however, is not. As usual with EA, this game is a classic case of style over substance. The depth of the virtual Hogwarts world they have created is not in question, but the seeming unwillingness of the game to provide any original gameplay beyond the control concept is itís downfall. It does follow the storyline of the screenplay fairly closely, but fails to get you into the actual events until near its conclusion and fills the interim with boring, repetitive clone missions. The sound is functional, but never stirring.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a game that children will enjoy at first, but tire of quickly. Die hard Potter fans will enjoy the interactive Hogwartís environment but hate the inaccuracies. Everyone else should play Super Mario Galaxy.

The verdict:

An overwhelming sense of mediocrity leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth - one for the absolute fans only.


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