Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II Review
Posted by James Newton
Could it be magic?
Last year EA made the horrendous mistake of bringing Kinect support to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, ignoring PlayStation Move entirely. The result was a predictably sloppy affair – but with the sequel's Move support, surely there's still chance of redemption.
Well, no, there isn't. Purge any thoughts of Sorcery-style motion control now: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II is a third-person shooter that only uses Move for aiming and camera control. It seems a wasted opportunity considering the obvious potential, but then this is a multi-platform film tie-in with Move support, not a title built specifically for the controller.
While using Move is a perfectly serviceable and generally accurate method of control, it doesn't bring anything new to the table: its biggest innovation is changing the colour of the sphere from blue to yellow when you equip the Expelliarmus spell. Granted, we should probably be thankful EA Bright Light didn't shoehorn any waggle-tastic motion controls in there, and Move's already proved its usefulness in third-person shooters, but the implementation here smacks of a feature to slap on a box, not one to enhance gameplay.
Deathly Hallows: Part II tells the story of the final film in the Potter saga, giving you control of a wide cast of characters and new magic spells, players soon building an arsenal of long range sniper-style shots, protective shields and explosive blasts. You can't keep using the same incantation over and over: there's unlimited ammunition, but each spell has a recharge time and repeated fire will reduce your accuracy, so the idea is to seek cover and cool off in between salvos. Each has its own quirks too — Expelliarmus will break an enemy's Protego shield, allowing you to finish them off with a final quick spell, for example.
This would prove a solid design, that is, if any of the enemies presented even the slightest bit of challenge: they're quite content to keep their distance, obediently popping up at regular intervals to grant you a clear shot. There are a few different opponent types, but none display any intelligence or real danger, even in the large numbers the game throws at you: we'd dispatched at least 100 wizards by the middle of the second level, with over 500 identikit opponents sent packing by the game's end.
The 'weapons' system doesn't really work either: Expelliarmus breaks a shield but does no damage; later you earn spells that also break shields but deal damage too, rendering the previous one useless. With only half a dozen spells and over 500 enemies to defeat throughout the game, the mathematics point towards an experience that quickly becomes monotonous.
In fact, the whole game suffers from similar tedium. In levels where Hermione or Ron appear, your progress is frequently halted while your fellow magician fiddles about with a door and you defend them. This happens multiple times in several levels, as though EA Bright Light needed a way to slow the game down and stretch it out past its miserly four to five hour running time.
Occasionally you'll have to escape things Crash Bandicoot style, running toward the camera and occasionally casting magic at something behind you. These sections are certainly cinematic, and a welcome break from the tedium of dispatching hooded wizards with no smarts, though that's rather damning with faint praise.
Worst of all however is the complete anticlimax at the end. As the final game of the final film of the final book in the Harry Potter saga, you'd expect the series-ending face-off between sworn enemies Voldemort and Harry Potter to result in an epic battle, but it's a limp occasion that never musters any drama.
After finishing, you unlock the Expert difficulty and all spells from the beginning, in case you feel like seeing if it's any better the second time around. It isn't. There are some bonuses hidden away in the levels, including character models and music tracks, but the only extra feature with a chance of holding your attention is the Challenge mode. You must find these in the regular levels first, but once unlocked, they task you with making it through the same story stages as skilfully as possible, Trophies awaiting.
Ultimately there's not much to recommend in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. The campaign is over very quickly and still manages to reach dangerous levels of tedium, Move is chronically under-used and the whole game lacks any spark of imagination. It's this type of title that gives movie tie-ins a bad name.
Sadly, Harry Potter fans will have to wait for an original Move-enabled release to fully realise the potential of combining Sony's motion controller and the magic wand. What could have made a neat stopgap before Sorcery instead amounts to a lacklustre send-off for a series of movie tie-ins that never really captured the magic of its inspirations.