There’s gold in the Harry Potter videogame range for the Windows PC platform – but there are also some duds.
While none of the games listed here are total disasters, (Quidditch can be great fun, for example) they pale by comparison with the better harry Potter PC titles and certainly don’t live up to what J. K. Rowling devotees will be used to from the wonderful books and movies.
So how exactly do Quidditch World Cup, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets fail to live up to the standard of this hugely successful franchise?
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup (3 out of 5)
A little slow, a little dated and a little repetitive, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is the best of the worst, so to speak, and the only title on this list I can come close to recommending.
With a choice of playing for the four houses of Hogwarts – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin – players get the chance to select differing brooms for increased difficulty levels. With team moves and the all important Golden Snitch chase at the end of the game, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is football in the air with a choice of three ring-shaped goals to aim the Quaffle at.
The speed of the game is well realised, with a sweeping camera following the player around the Quidditch arena – however the time taken to proceed through the game can be considerable, especially in a single player environment.
Although finding itself among the worst of the Harry Potter games, Quidditch World Cup is guilty of nothing more than being a dated simulation of a fictional sport – it remains fun and occasionally thrilling.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1 out of 5)
Sorry to say it, but Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a rehash of the Philosophers Stone – and a terrible one at that, employing almost identical graphics, visual design and voice talent. Sadly the programmers decided to change things around with the gameplay, introducing a frustrating and pointless new method of learning spells (tapping out a rhythm with the arrow keys) and employing even longer cutscenes than the original.
The new spell learning system particularly grates; a badly-conceived attempt to bring console controller-style button press combinations to a PC game: it is a far cry from the point and click practice method of the later Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. When contemporary games such as the Star Wars Jedi Knight series were allowing players to assign powers to specific keys or gamepad controller buttons, Chamber of Secrets tries too hard to bring something different to casting spells, and the game suffers horribly as a result.
A disappointing sequel to the first proper Harry Potter game, Chamber of Secrets is definitely only for the most avid Harry Potter fans a necessary sequel and addition to the collection, but brings with it nothing new.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2 out of 5)
This game looks great on paper – but a dogged determination to stick rigidly to minor scenes from the accompanying movie derail improved graphics and a reliance on some of the movie cast (notably Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort) to finally lend their voices to the game.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix also looks good on screen, with much improved graphics and animation, but there is something about the game that just isn’t right.
A good 30 minutes can be spent on the train at the beginning of the game, with opportunities to interact with other Hogwarts students made pointless by the lack of consequence of these moments. Trumped on release as “Harry Potter meets GTA 3” given the amount of depth and exploration available in the realisation of Hogwarts, Order of the Phoenix struggles to find any real pace and tension in the threats thanks to the poorly executed and arguably pointless cutscenes.
The absence of Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson is more noticeable by the inclusion of the other stars, but it is the interminable cut-scenes and slow pace of the game that really frustrate.