|System: Wii, PC, PS3, X360, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Bright Light||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 29, 2009||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|
Luckily, the mini-games on offer here are mostly fun, even if two of them are played into the ground. The first one youll come across is potion making, and its not only worked into the story in clever and interesting ways, its also the most fun youre likely to have in the entire game.
When making potions, youll see symbols scroll up on the bottom right of the screen, instructing you either to interact with your cauldron in a specific way or to add certain ingredients. In order to add liquid ingredients, youll point the Wii Remote at a bottle, and then make a lifting gesture; you then pour by tilting the remote sideways, and when you feel a rumble on the controller, youve used enough of that particular ingredient. If you add too much of a particular ingredient or make a mistake, smoke will puff up around the pot, which youll then need to wave away by shaking the Nunchuk. Adding solid ingredients, such as dragon dung or rats spleen, is done in much the same way, though youll simply press the A button to drop items in once theyre over the cauldron. Some liquids need to be shaken slightly, and occasionally youll be called upon to either fan the flames or stir the pot. The beauty is, the controls for making potions work great, and the activity is a ton of fun.
Another major part of Half-Blood Prince is quidditch, and here your main goal is simply to ride your broom stick through star markers in order to chase after the golden snitch. Its an on-rails event thats controlled using the pointer functionality of the Wii Remote, and again, the controls here work splendidly. However, youre forced to play through a practice run each time the mini-game pops up in the story, which quickly drains the fun out of the experience.
The last, and most abused, mini-game is dueling. You cant have a Harry Potter game on Wii without some form of wizard combat, and for the most part, its executed well. But again, the developers shamelessly pad the length of the game and create artificial obstacles by forcing you into one duel after another during climatic portions of the story. The pacing feels stapled together and disjointed, and when spamming one particular spell usually guarantees success, combat grows old quickly.
There are six spells you can eventually learn for use in dueling, and each is executed using gesturing. Stupefy is your main attack, which shoots fireballs at your enemy, and the spell is cast by making a jiggling motion with the Wii Remote. Other spells, such as Expelliarmus or Levicorpus make use of both controllers, and though you can routinely cast these spells successfully with a bit of practice, there were plenty of times our gestures were misread, causing us to cast a completely different spell than what we had intended.
The presentation in Half-Blood Prince is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the story is rushed and rugged, the cutscenes are often awkward, and the character animations are very unnatural. On the other hand, in-game animations are excellent, and the facial expressions are impressive, adding subtle nuisance to the spoken word. Hogwarts also looks amazing, though visual elements far off in the background lack polish and detail. The sound effects and music, however, are powerful additions that lend weight to the overall experience. The voice acting is also delivered faithfully, even if some of the original actors from the movie are absent.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Wii offers a completely average and somewhat lazy adventure. The story is shown little love, which is confusing, considering the game costs five times that of a movie ticket. The mini-games are fun and well-constructed, but theyre overused and often abused. That being said, theres great value in being able to freely roam the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. The school is both charming and slightly creepy, and EA probably would have done well to simply offer fans all the various components of the game, minus the story, since it only serves to trip up the experience.
CCC Freelance Writer