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Straight out of the opening cut scene you'll notice how forced the gameplay is. While the games have always followed closely with the movies, this one throws random cut scenes at you that involve a lot of terrible voice acting and are about as exciting as watching paint dry. Ignoring the cut scenes and moving on to the actual game, it does a lot of the work for you. Characters follow you around and don't bother to hide the fact that they're giving you hints. Instead they frequently pop up and explain "Go this way Harry!" or the game simply whisks you there during a cut scene so it won't have to waste its time waiting for you to run there yourself.
While the Harry Potter series has never been at the top of the list for the most ground-breaking games of the year, the new one lacks any depth at all. Simple tasks and challenges have always been a part of the series, but they had a decent story that went at a good pace. They were also a nice way to pass the time while waiting for the release of the newest Harry Potter movie, and could even be a nice challenge to solve the puzzles in. This game rewards you with a rushed storyline that feels thrown together, even to those who have read the books, and has no thought put into the mediocre tasks you're assigned.
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With the new PS3 and the Xbox 360 on the market, no one can expect the PS2 to have the best graphics around, but the older Harry Potter games used what resources they had much better than Harry Potter 6 does. While the past games had some minor bugs with cameras zooming into walls and people's heads suddenly turning inside out, that's nothing compared to the latest mess. Even by PS2 standards the graphics for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, quite simply, are horrendous.
The characters are like choppy, colored boxes. Their faces move in odd positions while they're talking that make them appear to be chewing large wads of gum, and the voice acting is so low and poorly done for most characters that they're impossible to understand without subtitles. Even the cut scenes don't bother to step up the graphics any.
What's worse than the graphics is how sluggish they make the controls. A more in-depth look at the controls for Harry Potter is discussed on the next page, but the graphics seem to mess those controls up as well. Objects are hard to see, and often the boundaries around an object seem to stick out much farther than they should, causing you to bounce off objects while flying that you never even saw.
The only improvement to the graphics is the castle, which looks a bit more detailed than earlier games and doesn't create as many glitches while running around or trying to climb stairs. But this comes at the sacrifice of a smaller world and fewer rooms to explore.
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If the graphics don't have you pulling your hair out, the controls will. The Harry Potter game has improved spell casting and potions making, which seemed like a nice touch. Unfortunately, they have created an entirely new mess of controls that cancel out any enjoyment these tasks might have involved.
To cast spells, you must move the joystick in a certain pattern. This in turn moves Harry's wand and he casts a spell. This is a nice touch and makes the game more interactive. Also, to mix potions you have to follow a set of instructions to pour the ingredients and heat the cauldron. This too seems entertaining at first. It's certainly better than repeatedly pressing the X button. The flaw with this is that Harry is so sluggish to respond to your commands that half the time he does nothing, and the other half he simply sends objects flying across the room for no apparent reason.
Mixing potions is better, though you'll probably end up pouring ingredients all over the floor. On the plus side, when you're really angry you can send the vials of liquid zooming off the screen, forcing the game to pick them up and bring them back. So the only real enjoyment you can get out of this is throwing a temper tantrum with the potions and forcing the game to act like a frustrated parent who must clean up after you.
Finally, there are the controls for flying. Suffice to say they're terrible and not worth the headache it takes to fly around. Quidditch has never been a task that fans enjoy in the games, and this one will have you groaning in your chair. Maybe someday they will realize that no one enjoys chasing after a tiny Golden Snitch on a broom that won't turn and goes spinning out of control when you get within five feet of a wall.
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Overall, this game is horrid. There is no other way to put it except that even the most devoted Harry Potter fans will be bummed at how this game successfully fails at both creating a good game and having any resemblance to the story itself. The only item it has going for it is a slight improvement in tasks such as spell casting or potion mixing, but they are nowhere near perfect and can't save this flop of a game. The storyline is chopped up and cheesy. The controls and the graphics put even the PS2 to shame, and the characters sound like a computer is reading their voices instead of a person. Any witty dialogue, what little there is, is missed because of a mumbling, depressed sounding character.
This game seems to only be about making money off fans who will want to buy it before the movie comes out. Many people will flock to rent or buy this game, and they will be extremely disappointed. While it could have shown a lot of promise, a game that only involved throwing items around the room with your wand would have been more exciting and playable. Save your money and don't bother renting or buying this one.