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June 25, 2007



- Faithful conversion of movie sets to video game levels

- High Harry Potter geek fulfillment

- Good voice acting



- Washed out visuals

- Tedious gameplay

- Lack of most of the film cast's major players weakens the voice acting



Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Wii)

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (360)

Review: Bully (PS2)



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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Score: 6.0 / 10


Though the final Harry Potter novel has been out for some time, the movies and the accompanying video games based on the movies are still coming along.  Harry Potter & The Order of The Phoenix gives players an opportunity to step into the shoes of The Boy That Lived and suffer through his trials at his 5th year at Hogwart's.  The experience is fun, but by no means magical.


harry potter order of the phoenix          harry potter order of the phoenix


The visuals in Harry Potter show how much can be done on a short timeframe and how much more could have been delivered given more time.  Character models correspond sufficiently with their film counterparts as to make them recognizable.  Magical effects (such as repairing broken objects) are very well done.  Textures all seem very detailed.  However, everything has a distinctly washed out look to it, a faded appearance which I'm not entirely certain was intentional. Plus,




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while the characters are recognizable, they are by no means elegant.  Given more time, the developers might have had an opportunity to enhance the character models to greater levels of accuracy and detail.


On the sound front, again, the game has its ups and its downs.  On the plus side, music taken from the film has been reproduced 


faithfully here in the game.  Spells each have their own distinctive sound effects.  And the voice work contains numerous actors from the film.  However, it is the voice work that also engenders some irritation, as many movie-to-game titles often do.  Several actors with minor roles from the film seem to lend their voice talents for the game, but given the absence of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix LaStrange), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), and other major names who've snagged roles in the films, it seems to call into question whether Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) or Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) went into the studio to record lines for the game or whether they've just been dubbed in with audio from the film.


Oddly enough this chapter of the Harry Potter saga is reminiscent of Bully.  Open ended to an extent, giving you objectives you need to accomplish, some free time to wander around and discover stuff on your own, and the occasional wand waving bully who needs to get smacked down through a spell duel.  The interior geography of Hogwart's, prone to change with staircases that move to and fro, is easily navigable courtesy of a waypoint system which lays down footprints in the direction you need to head towards for your next lesson or your next objective.  There seems to be plenty of people to talk to and several mini-games to play, which in turn grant you rewards to unlock bonus content.  However, a good chunk of time can be spent (or wasted) cleaning up this institute of higher learning: fixing broken pottery (no pun intended), re-hanging paintings, revealing statues hidden by curtains that won't stay open.  Moreover, the spell system is very limited.  Rotating the analog thumbsticks in a certain directional pattern produces a different result depending on whether or not you're in combat.  Move the thumbsticks too fast or too slow, and the spell doesn't go off.  Either way, it's an inelegant effort to make magic more. . . well, magical.


In the end, Harry Potter & The Order of The Phoenix fails to enchant.  While younger players (and serious Harry Potter geeks) might relish the chance to lead Dumbledore's Army against He Who Must Not Be Named, the rest of us would be better off watching the film or, better still, reading the book.


- Axel Cushing

(October 29, 2007)


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