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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
on 9 July 2009
Movie tie-ins are generally looked down upon from the gaming media, however, the 'Harry Potter' series for the console has always been a good deal of fun.
In the 'Half Blood Prince' this continues. The story is followed loosely, picking up only on major key plot points throughout the game through the use of short, in-game-engine cut scenes. This is a highly positive point, giving those who do not know the story a basic understanding, while also meaning the film is not spoiled by the hints towards its direction. In short- well dealt with, highlighting key characters, relationships and injecting key story into the mix (even if the voice work/syncing is often dreadful and the graphics, not up to par!)
One of the key gameplay features used in HBP is the over-hauled duelling system, which works well (both in attack and defence) although the quantity of duels as the game progresses is a little over-whelming and ultimately, monotonous. Positively, spells are worked well into the game through different stick movements depending on the spell you wish to cast. The problem I have with the spell casting is the way in which the game, on occasion, fails to recognise stick movement, resulting in sluggish gameplay.
Quests are, in short, simple and straight-forward. Nearly Headless Nick is even on hand whenever you wish, leading you to your next objective! Harry Potter games have always been about exploring the castle yourself, puzzle mechanics, and talking to others en-route. However, this is my major gripe with the game- there are no puzzles of any sort (seen in Goblet of Fire, especially) and no interaction between students. Positively, the game allows full access to the castle (once the Aurors allow) with Hogwarts 'crests' acting as collectibles through the game (some are incredibly difficult to get access too), so free-roaming is successfully encouraged.
A main aspect of the book is obviously Harry's success at Potions (with help from the Half Blood Prince), as such, potion-making is included in abundance. The potions mini-game is well thought out: instructions rise from the text book as the player makes out which/how the ingredient ought to be added, all the while against the clock.
Concluding, Harry Potter HBP is well conceived. The game has no real challenge, the graphics are sub-standard and the gameplay acts as nothing more than a way to get through the story, quickly. On the whole, however, it is easy to look past the faults because the game is a lot of fun- especially for fans of the series, acting as an antidote to the anticipation of the film.
I'd go for the rent for this one, the game can be completed in around 5-7 hours, depending on how much you focus on collectibles while the campaign has no redeeming qualities for playback after completion apart from some achievements.