I don’t pride myself in being overly critical of gaming companies. I also understand the purpose of a movie license and how far that actually goes when it’s translated to a game. But, with that said, it truly is unacceptable to see a perfectly good opportunity go to waste.
That’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in a nutshell.
First, the good stuff
The game is great, in terms of looks and feel. It truly captures everything good about the movie and puts the player in the middle of this magical world that J.K. Rowling has concocted. The level are huge, the characters are real and it’s completely something that will actually put you in the shoes of these brave witches.
The controls are very clever, they help you get into the grove of casting spells. They are incredibly simple, probably for the E10+ rating that’s on the box. So simple that a seven year-old could pick up the wii-mote and get right into the game. Not bad considering how dark and demented the book and movie actually were. I digress, the game has laid out the plans for greatness, if not only for the control scheme itself. When you cast spells, you actually do the motions from the film, or something very similar. The accuracy of the casting is outstanding, which is great because you want to get into that rhythmical flow of casting spells at whim.
These are all the elements needed to make a great game and to finally break the barrier of horrible movie licenses. And I don’t really need to explain what that sentence means, if you’ve been playing games since 1980 or 1999, you know how bad movie-games can become.
So where did it go wrong…?
Where it goes wrong
The game is lackluster and boring. Tideous gameplay mixed with boring action sequences make this game average at best. Sure it goes along with the storyline of the film, but that is to be expected. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be called Order of the Phoenix. It would be a spin-off of the Harry Potter books, which would make it uninteresting. But, the fighting with Death Eaters is short and far from sweet. The majority of your time spent in the game is to solve puzzles and slowly progress with occasional action showing up here and there. And, you know what? That’s just not good enough anymore. It’s not fair for a fan of the series to have high expectations dashed when the game had every opportunity laid out to be great. It’s not fair to lure people to a game simply because it has the same title as a hit (or soon-to-be – it was released before the movie) film. It’s just not fair.
And this isn’t the first HP game to be this way. All of the HP games have been the same way. They’ve been average, enough graphics/beauty/good control scheme, but so much l acking in gameplay. But the even balance between the presentation and the actual gameplay makes it bearable, at least for most media outlets. And, please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not putting myself on a soap box trying to save the world from movie license videogames. I’m not trying to do that at all. What I’m trying to point out is that this was EA’s best opportunity, at the present time, to break that mold. To simply not sell the customer a movie license, but sell them an outstanding game with outstanding uses for the Wii remote in an outstanding gameplay environment. This is what I’m trying to say here. They had a chance, but they blew it.
It should have had less puzzles, more action, followed the storyline of the book to the first last drop. The Wii remote could have been the way to involve people so much further into the game, but the gameplay is so lackluster that it certainly prevents that from happening.
I don’t want to say that EA purposely put this cookie-cutter HP addition out for people to purchase. I’m not going to assume that no love was put in this game whatsoever. Maybe it was EA trying to reach everyone instead of just a few. Maybe the puzzles are in there for the younger kids, with a touch of action for the adults. Regardless, I still see this addition of HP just like the others. Exciting to think about, truly unexciting to play.
Make your own minds up about the game, I have made mine up already.