The Boy Who Lived may have regretted his luck upon witnessing the video games based off of his life. Since the first Harry Potter film released back in 2001, EA has been cranking out movie tie-ins that have ranged from mediocre to truly awful. Sadly, this final installment has been sent by the Sorting hat to the latter category.
The game faithfully follows the story of the recent film, which involves a bespectacled boy saving the world from a man without morals or a nose. If you haven’t read the books or seen the films, do not play this game. Deeply emotional moments from the story are ruined by the game’s stiff dialogue, awkwardly-acted character models, and a let’s-get-the-gist-of-this-scene-told-as-quickly-as-possible approach to storytelling. The characters are weak impersonations of their original versions. Particularly awful is a scene in which Voldemort chases Harry while constantly spouting dialogue that makes it sound like the two are engaged in a game of hide and seek.
The gameplay is even more disappointing. Like the “Deathly Hallows Part 1” game, “Part 2” dumps the exploration and platforming elements of the earlier games in favor of a “Gears of War” style third-person-shooter. You cast spells at enemies from behind cover, move on to the next room, and repeat until the closing credits. However, none of your magical arsenal is particularly interesting. You can stun enemies, create a reflective shield around yourself, and blast them with explosive magic. The combat lacks both the strategy and stylish hyperviolence of “Gears,” and both enemies and allies alike act like they’ve been hit by an “Intelligence Reducto” spell. While fans of the books may not be surprised to find Ron a useless addition to your party, every friendly character you encounter is just as likely to trip over their own shoelaces as to cast a spell. You can play as several characters such as Hermione, Ginny, Neville and the rest, but their gameplay is too similar to break up the monotony. There’s simply no new, interesting, or well-executed gameplay to be found.
“Deathly Hallows Part 1” allowed players to team up for some multiplayer co-op, but this game does not. All you can do is post your high scores from the game’s various missions in an online leaderboard for bragging rights, though bragging about beating a game like this is like gloating after winning a footrace against a sleeping slug. Idiotic enemies and yawn-worthy boss fights make this game too easy for anyone in the double-digits age group. The game can easily be beaten in a single afternoon, and you probably won’t even break a sweat doing it.
The character models are outdated and poorly animated, but the environments and mood of a Hogwarts under siege are effective. The only time you’ll feel immersed in the world of Harry Potter is during some of the game’s bigger battles. For instance, the game is at its best when trolls and Death Eaters are causing the castle to crumble around you. Once a cutscene kicks in, you’ll be too busy noticing that the voices of the characters are different than those of the movies. Some, like Harry, are good facsimiles, though Voldemort’s voice lacks the edge and powerful delivery that gives the character such a presence in the films. The music falls far short of Alexandre Desplat’s masterful film score, with too many repeated songs used to fill too much game time.
Fans of the franchise should steer their broomsticks far, far away from this muggle-made cash-in attempt. In the void left by the series now being over, everyone who’s ever donned fake glasses and used marker to draw a lightning-shaped scar on their foreheads will be itching for their next fix, but I implore them to look elsewhere.