|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PS2, DS, PSP, GBA||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA UK||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 26, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Devin Finley
June 21, 2007 - Harry Potter returns to us once again with new spells, new characters, and free roam of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As in the books, Harry matures; the games will follow the same pattern, making this one more edgy then any of its predecessors and will appeal to a broader audience with Death Eaters, Number 12 Grimmauld Place, new playable characters, free roam, spell casting, and much, much more, The Order of the Phoenix has yet to upset. Hogwarts not only offers an open world roam, but it also has hundreds of items one can interact with using any of the non-combat spells to gain discovery points.
As you may have guessed, discovery points equal more powerful magic. This allows your combat as well as your non-combat spells to be more powerful as well as more accurate, trust me when I say that the level of your magic WILL matter in the combat sequences on a high degree.
EXPECTO PATRONUM! Just like the book, we begin in Little Whinging where you'll undergo your tutorial on your new spell casting charms. Since the Harry Potter games have been less narrative, you'll find much of this game will leave you to exploring, which may prove difficult considering Hogwarts' enormous size, long halls, room of requirement, Gryffindor common room and moving staircases to name a few of 85+ areas; this task will prove easier via the navigation system (footprints on the floor) you may choose if you need. You'll need to explore to recruit members of the D.A. since Dolores Umbridge will indeed have reign of Hogwarts throughout some the game. Aside from the many missions in the game, there are also side games that may be played if one chooses, such as exploding snap competitions, wizard chess, and gobstones (similar to marbles)
Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 will offer you more realistic control, allowing you to draw out the shapes with either the Wii-mote or the Sixaxis like they are your wands, though Nintendo seems to be highly favored in this effect. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2 will allow spell casting through the use of the analog stick, and PC will be drawing out with your mouse. Different shapes will cast different spells, and the shape will often resemble the effect. A stab-like motion for 'depulso' will result in pushing objects away, etc. PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii offer us the best feel of actually being in the game, and the Wii leaves us only a few steps away from a full on Wizards duel. Through your 60 or so missions, you'll be given non-combat and combat spells, so the same shape drawn will offer different effects depending on whether or not your character is in combat. Some of the spells will be wingardium leviosa, accio, depulso, reducto, incendio, and reparo; these are your non-combat, or Charm, spells. Protego, petrificus totalus, rictusempra, stupefy, experlliarmus, and levicorpus will be your combat, or Jinx. spells. All spells will have the same effect as in the movie or book.
Though all systems promise nearly spot-on resemblance of the book as well as the movie, the graphics on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 seem more admirable, yet all will set high standards for any game to follow. The score was composed by James Hannigan and has themes for specific characters as well as John Williams' Hedwig's Theme. The use of characters we've yet been given a chance to play will be allowed in Order of the Phoenix, giving use access to the Weasley twins, Albus Dumbledore, and, rumored, Sirius Black. As in previous games, Ron and Hermione will be by your side to give advice if you begin to get lost, yet in the latest version, expect the possibility of Sir Nicholas (Nearly Headless Nick) if you begin to stray to far off course which is likely if you opt-not to use your navigation system given the size of the school. A small sample of this game is hardly enough to satisfy, so mark your calendars for its release on June 26.
CCC Freelance Writer