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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action / Adventure

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA UK

 

ESRB

E 10+ (Everyone)

 

Released

November 2005

 

- Co-op mode elevates average action game to a new level of shared fun

- Better than the “usual” (a.k.a. awful) movie-licensed game

- (young) Fans of the books and films will enjoy playing through the story that follows in the steps of its source material

- A more “realistic” character design

 

 

- Not much challenge for gamers over 15 years old

- Camera can be problematic, especially in co-op games, when players dragging behind the others can get “stuck”

- Co-op mode is only for two players, not three, like on the Xbox

- Won’t take too long to complete (about seven hours)

- Most enemies (fire-spouting, gecko-like beasts and massive insect-type creatures) aren’t too scary nor are they too hard to beat

 

 

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Score: 7.4 / 10

 

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have been a cultural phenomenon since the beginning of their appearance on bookshelves. Millions of copies of the series, now in its sixth volume, have been sold, and each has found a lofty perch on the bestseller lists. The movies based on the magical realm of the young wizard Harry Potter have been just as popular, easily generating in the hundreds of millions at the box office each. Not quite as popular have been the Harry Potter videogames from Electronic Arts, and after playing the latest Potter game, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it’s easy to see why. The game is much better than the usual (a.k.a. awful) movie-licensed game, and has a surprisingly good co-op mode. But the enchanted charm of the Potter books and movies just isn’t present in an average action game that ends way too quickly and is much too easy for anybody but the youngest of gamers.

 

harry potter and the goblet of fire          harry potter and the goblet of fire

 

In the fifth Harry Potter game from EA, you’ll follow the same plot as the book and movie. Harry finds himself selected to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. All four young wizards in the tourney have to square off against a fire-breathing dragon, dive into the icy Black Lake on a search-and-rescue mission, and traverse through a dangerous maze. It all culminates in a final duel against Lord Voldemort, the requisite bad guy.

 

You can play as Harry, Ron and Hermione or all three in the very good co-op mode if you have another friend or family member willing to partake in some Harry Potter gaming. The majority of the game will have the three wizards making their way through various levels of danger and under threat from bizarre creatures. There are too many waves of big fire-spouting gecko-type creatures or huge insects that aren’t frightening or challenging to defeat. They’re just a nuisance. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire conjured up a basic action game spell for its gameplay: start at the beginning, collect various items and power-ups along the journey, and make your way to the end of the level.

 

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There are a lot of varied levels with swamps, ancient castles and even a final culminating battle in an eerie cemetery. But the gameplay remains fairly repetitively constant throughout. However, having the three characters on the screen working in unison (whether with two-player co-op or a single-player adventure, where the two other characters are controlled by the game’s A.I.) really brings a fresh, new aspect to the gameplay. Harry Potter 

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and the Goblet of Fire is the first Potter title to use co-op play, and it’s a very welcome addition, although at times, because three players are on-screen at once, characters dragging behind can get “stuck” until the players further along double back. One slight disappointment is that the PS2 version of the game only allows for two-person co-op, unlike the three-person co-op present in the Xbox version.

 

Almost every puzzle or obstacle that needs to be overcome requires all three characters to interact (there are many parts of the game that become just Harry-oriented). Rusty old gates need Harry, Ron and Hermione to each use their combined magical powers to pull down the gate. Huge boulders must be lifted by all three. Fire must be doused by all three. The need of having all three characters cooperating to complete the game really elevates Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire beyond the mundane, even though without two human-controlled players in the game, the A.I-controlled characters frustratingly don’t always interact smartly in each situation, putting themselves and you in harm’s way.

 

harry potter and the goblet of fire          harry potter and the goblet of fire

 

Using your magic with a casting system, you’ll literally feel (with a rumbling controller) your magic spells at work. The only way to get to the next stage and vanquish all enemies is by using a character’s magic wand and all the power it possesses. Using magic provides a nice visual touch, because Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire implements exceptional neon-enhanced particle effects for the magic that pumps from each wizard’s wand. The jelly beans that serve as your health power-ups also receive q healthy dose of bright coloring. Each of the levels incorporates better graphics than might be expected, including the new “realistic” character models. You won’t be overly impressed with the game’s visuals as a whole, but they certainly are more than satisfactory, particularly for a game focused towards young gamers.

 

But the kid-friendly focus may have gone a bit too far, because Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is devoid of a taxing challenge level. This game may be too easy for all but the youngest of gamers. On top of that, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a too-quick gaming adventure that can be completed within seven hours or so, although in the PS2 version that completion time may be longer due to some horrendous load times you won’t find in the Xbox version to move about the game

 

While not many who aren’t a fan of all things Harry Potter will find a reason to play Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, wizard-wannabes under the age of 15 will be infatuated. A sharp, visual style and a great co-op mode that overcomes the average action gameplay provide a wonderfully wizardly good time despite a too-short and too-easy escapade.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(January 11, 2006)

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