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Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince (X360 & PS3)

Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince (X360 & PS3)


Some of you may remember Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix which amazingly was a decent movie tie in when it was released on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. With the latest Half Blood Prince Potter film due for release soon we have high hopes the follow up will repeat this success story.

Harry and the gang are back for the sixth year at Hogwarts School and this time around the story line is darker than any of the previous outings. People who have read the books will obviously know the ins and outs which will be good as the game only touches on some of the story elements which makes for a slightly disjointed affair. All the big book battles are in the game but the finer elements are not explained which may be confusing if you haven’t been following the series of books.

You take control of Harry and wander the nicely detailed corridors of Hogwarts and sections of the environment unlock as you progress quickly giving you access to the whole building. There are many things you can do in Hogwarts, such as flying, spell casting, making potions and exploring.

Harry is now the captain of the Quiddich team and he flies around on his broom via a rather constrictive new system which only allows you to move your position on the screen as the broom follows the ball – you have no control over the direction you head. To be fair it isn’t as boring as it sounds because there are star checkpoints littered throughout which means you have to fly through them to gain time. If you miss some of them then the checkpoints will change from green to red and if you continue playing badly then they will expire and you have to restart. Quiddich has really changed into a race game which is fine, but purists might find this a little lacking in the grand scheme of the Potter world. As a mini game, I can’t say I really enjoyed playing it but it brings a little variety to the overall experience.

Potion creation is another mini style game which gives you access to 16 combinations you can create in your cauldron. The game switches from third person to first person and icons pop up on the left side of the screen and you select the corresponding ingredient with an on screen cursor. You select a beaker, move it to the pot and pour it in and this is all achieved by using the joystick on the controller – you move left to select the ingredient and then right to move it. As the game progresses mixing ingredients gets more complex and you have to deal with smoke which you need to remove as well as the temperatures of the liquids inside it.

Casting spells in the newest game has been improved and you have six spells to utilize. Petrificus Totalus, Levicorpus, Charging, Expellarmus, Protego and Stupefy. These are performed with the joysticks and you can move at your normal speeds with the stick. This time around the Sixaxis on the Playstation 3 is not used but I doubt many people will be sorry to see that removed.

The combat is vastly improved because the control system has been refined to not only be more intuitive but to be more accessible in a variety of situations. You can also challenge a friend in head to head duels if you so desire and you can choose whoever you want for this mini game combat challenges.

Other combat changes this time involve a health bar which is a more traditional aspect which the developers EA Bright Light have decided to introduce. I don’t think the previous game suffered with this not being present but equally so this change might appeal to arcade gamers as it is easier to see if Harry is near death during the trickier situations. As Harry can now run and jump there are few more controls at your disposal which is beneficial in specific situations.

Navigation has also been refined and many people will remember the functional system of inky feet pointing you in the direction you had to travel to your next objective, but this time Nearly Headless Nick appears to show you the way to your objective which is a nice touch. The world is large and while the main story focused game can be completed in around 6 hours there are a lot of Achievements and Trophies to be collected if you spend some time in the environments. There are 150 Hogwarts crests hidden throughout the world and 25 of these need to be earned rather than collected. Not only do you get achievements for collecting these but if you start gathering a lot of them then the game rewards you by unlocking additional options which add to the diversity of mini challenges for instance.

Graphically the game is decent with some nice attention to detail on the textures and world environments throughout the locations. It is clear that the developers also spent some time analysing the forthcoming movie because almost all of the locations are faithfully and painstakingly recreated. The animations are also very impressive with all the main characters being lovingly rendered to appease the fans of the franchise. Unfortunately the facial detail is a little lacking when up close and while you will never wonder who the character is, it is a shame that the detail levels were not cranked a little for better representations of the stars.

Graphically the game is almost identical between the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 however the PS3 tends to suffer from some frame rate issues when the action heats up onscreen. Apart from this there are no issues to detail and the game is surprisingly free from any annoying bugs or camera issues.

On an audio level the musical score is magnificent with sweeping orchestra works giving the game the same epic feeling as the movies. Unfortunately the real actors do not handle the voice overs and it is immediately noticeable throughout that copy cat people are attempting to recreate the voices – it isn’t game breaking but it certainly ruins the overall atmosphere from time to time.

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince is once again another title EA should be proud of. It certainly is not going to make much sense to people who have no idea what the world is all about, but then again this is certainly a fan game and something younger gamers would enjoy. What it lacks in class leading technological advancements it makes up for by being a solid, fun, game to play.


A lot of mini games and various aspects to the gameplay make this well rounded.
Solid enough and built with great attention to the movie layout but nothing is out of the ordinary.
Music is brilliant but the voice acting is terrible.
Around six hours or so for the main quests with many more hours of exploring on offer.

A solid release and recommended to fans of the Potter world.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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