the Half-Blood Prince
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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
lectronic Arts has been making games based on the “Harry Potter” films for almost a decade now, so you’d think that by the sixth installment, they would have finally perfected the formula. After all, the J.K Rowling fantasy series may not be incredibly deep, but it does have an excellent story that’s practically tailor-made for the action/adventure genre. Unfortunately, EA doesn’t appear to be too concerned about making a quality game, because while “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” has some great ideas, they don't quite add up to a great game, let alone a good one.
The story itself remains mostly intact (or at least the important parts anyway) as Harry returns to Hogwarts to prepare for the impending battle between good and evil. While Voldemort tightens his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, however, Harry becomes entangled in a mystery involving the Half-Blood Prince, a former student whose scribbled notes in Harry’s textbook help make the boy wizard the star pupil of Horace Slughorn’s Potions class. It only makes sense, then, that potions should play a big role in the game as well, and they do quite heavily in one of the main components of gameplay. Designed like a chemistry set expansion of “Cooking Mama,” the potion-mixing minigame tasks the player with pouring ingredients into a pot, stirring them up, and fanning the flames to concoct a wide variety of potions.
When you’re not experimenting with your latest liquid creation, you’re doing one of two other things: dueling or playing Quidditch. The former is pretty fun as long as it’s with the Wiimote, because you get to pretend like you’re actually casting spells, but once you’ve learned the different moves, you discover a few things. First off, no matter how much better it may be with a Wiimote as opposed to a more conventional controller, the movements don’t always register the spell you want. And second, there’s nothing really stopping you from unleashing a string of energy blasts (done by furiously shaking the remote) that will unfairly dispose of your opponent in a matter of seconds. Of course, dueling is still more fun than Quidditch, but you could say the same for just about anything. No matter how magical or innovative the fictional sport may seem in the books or films, EA completely strips the experience of any enjoyment by turning it into a monotonous drill of guiding Harry through a predetermined path of star-shaped rings.
The only thing that could possible be worse is the sudden realization that the entire game is made up of playing the same three minigames over and over again – a pattern broken up only by the numerous cutscenes and walking you do in between objectives. Lots and lots of walking, in fact, as you must hike back and forth across Hogwarts as if your next location is always the one that’s farthest away. It’s a good thing Nearly-Headless Nick is there to escort you around Hogwarts, because without him by your side, you’d never know where you were going, and you’d spend even more time trying to get there. It’s an incredibly lazy tactic that makes the campaign seem longer than it really is, but don’t let that fool you. Save for the surprisingly decent graphics, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is just another disappointment in a long line of shitty movie tie-ins. Kids might enjoy it for the day, but even they’ll get bored after a few hours.