Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (Wii)

Worthy of a life-long Azkaban sentence

Without doubt, Harry Potter has become a huge cultural phenomenon over the last decade. The series, created by J.K Rowling, spanned seven main books and a successful set of films set around the various adventures of the wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as they fight the Evil Lord Voldemort. Now that the film based on the first half of the last novel in the series, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, is out, it too, like Order Of The Phoenix and The Half Blood Prince, receives a Wii adaptation. However, while both of those games proved to be surprisingly fun adventures, Deathly Hallows falls in with the rest of the wasteland of licensed games and proves to be a poor effort from EA.

There are only two different modes present: the main story and a challenge mode. The plot sees Harry, Ron and Hermione on their quest to destroy the seven horcruxes in order to defeat Lord Voldemort once and for all, all while fighting for survival as they go on the run from the increasingly corrupt wizarding world. As the title implies, the game only adapts the first half of the story due to the decision to split the film into two parts.

Unlike previous games, Deathly Hallows Part One takes a more action-oriented approach. Gone are the Quidditch matches and the potion classes as it's all adventure this time around. The game predominantly plays with an over-the-shoulder camera similar to third-person shooters, although some levels use a first-person perspective, such as stealth missions that involve using the Invisibility Cloak. Levels consist of travelling through a set area to fulfil a certain set of goals, which can range from simply getting to a certain place, finding a particular person, doing a certain spell with your wand or killing all the enemies on-screen in order to advance. You also get a variety of different potions to help you during the game such as Garroting gas, which knocks out people around it and exploding potions, which are a bit like grenades. You also have a set of collectables lying around the levels to look out for. These range from passwords to listen in on Fred and George Weasley's Potterwatch programmes, which keeps you updated on what's happening with Harry's friends, copies of The Quibbler and The Daily Prophet newspapers and a set of Deathly Hallow symbols.

However, the main problem is that they're just not fun at all. The levels are poorly designed and so mundane it feels like a chore to keep playing. There are also a set of side missions, which are completely new to the game from the film and book, that take place between some levels, such as one where you're trying to save a group of muggles from Death Eaters. However, these don't add much to the game and are actually rather annoying as they not only interrupt the storyline, but quite frankly feel like they were only included as filler to boost the length of the game. There are also five different challenges available from the start, which rank you based on the time taken to complete the game — these add some variety to the game but don't really make it any more fun.

Camera control is handled by the Wii Remote and the Nunchuck is used to move Harry about. The D-Pad to selects potions, the 2 button busts out the Invisibility cloak, there's a cover mechanic to shield you during combat, B to fires Spells and Z locks on to enemies. It's all simple enough, but the game suffers from serious problems with the camera, which is awkward to control and can lock up when you try to turn it at times, which saps ever more of what fun can be had.

Graphically, the game is poor by Wii standards, with rather ugly character models and bland level graphics that would feel more at home on a PlayStation 2. Audio isn't particularly good either, as while the background tracks sound fairly decent the character voices can be a bit annoying as they only have a small set of voice clips for each situation, and they start to grate as they frequently say the same stuff over and over again.

Conclusion

Overall, if you're the sort who is into action-adventure games, or someone who is a big fan of the Harry Potter series, don't buy this. Even if you enjoyed previous Harry Potter video games, you'd do well to avoid this one as what we see here is a perfect example of the average, shoddy video game tie-in. With seven months until the release of Part 2, we can only hope that EA learn from their mistakes here and step things up for Harry's grand finale.