July 25, 2011
It seems that the deluge of movie tie-in games will just never stop. I mean haven’t we suffered enough this year already? Next through the gate is Harry Potter and the Shameless Cash In: Part 2, which is basically an excuse to have an entire film devoted to a rather large wizard-style battle centred around that bastion of learning and comedy sweets that is Hogwarts. Obviously with the same intense acting, superb plot and comedy timing that we have come to know and…….no, I can’t even finish. Regardless, with the films and books raking in the cash there is a game-shaped void just waiting to be filled and so here is that very game, of the film, or the book. Yay?
The last game in the series was hardly a resounding success, with poorly implemented third-person shooter style gameplay and an additional Kinect portion of the game that seemed to have been shoehorned into proceedings just for shits and giggles. Our arms are still weary from all of that virtual wand waving – and feel free to make as many innuendos from that statement as you like. It is good to see that developers take on board constructive complaints and try to remedy them as opposed to just rushing out the same title in order to make some bucks, well we assume it is, as faced with a barrage of criticism from the first title it seems that pretty much none of it was taken on board and we have almost an identikit sequel.
The only real saving grace is the removal of the Kinect enabled sections, as they were truly dire, though it seems that nothing has really been put into the game to take their place. Instead we are faced with controlling Harry and pals, or the lumpy, zombie drone people that seem to have replaced them, in a bid to save Hogwarts and defeat the evil rascal Lord Voldemort once and for all. The story simply picks up from where the last one left off and within a couple of levels you will be back at Hogwarts and taking part in various aspects of the battle that rages there. In fact the pace and story is so badly managed that anyone playing this prior to the film will probably be put off, mainly due to woeful cutscenes, terribly intrusive loading screens and voice work that would have been better performed by the talking clock. At the sound of the beep say, “Bloody hell, Harry.”
The gameplay is equally as uninspired. Every level is a mish-mash of obvious cover points for you to duck behind and then pepper the enemy with your most powerful spells. Of course it doesn’t help when enemies seem to be able to shoot you even when you are in cover which, to our mind, kind of defeats the purpose of cover. The A.I on show is frankly shocking as each foe will either sit behind the same point of cover until you kill them or proceed to walk slowly towards you until you do the same. They also show complete indifference to you’re A.I partners and will proceed to just move or shoot straight past them in order to get to you, which is probably for the best as Ron and Hermione are pretty much useless anyway and seem to act more as cheerleaders rather than providing actual useful support.
Every now and then things REALLY get kicked up a notch with a few annoying chase sequences that have you running towards the screen from a tidal wave, a collapsing bridge or a seemingly miffed patch of fire. These sections are almost laughably short and simple, though the bridge one is made annoyingly luck-based thanks to a pursuer that seems to catch up to you with alarming ease at times regardless of whether you are zapping him right between the eyes or not. Other than that you can expect the same few enemies in a bunch of levels that just seem to blend into one another via a series of drab browns and greys. Occasionally you get to participate in a boss battle against one of the numerous antagonists on offer, but even those feel confined to tiny arenas and consist of repeated button mashing coupled with the odd moment to grab some cover and get your health back.
Mercifully the whole tawdry experience only lasts a few hours, though it is hardly time well spent. Having to slowly follow Ron and his inane banter through a series of pointless tunnels, or blow up a bridge with the most annoying combination of accents ever (looking at you Neville and Seamus) is hardly the stuff of legend. The ability to play as a host of bit-part players is not likely to be a large selling point either, as I doubt players have been champing at the bit to control Molly Weasley et al, as most of them are probably still stunned that Ginny is the main love interest – I mean COME ON! Should you feel in need of more punishment though you can enjoy Expert mode (you die faster) and the Challenge maps (the solo game, but timed), although I suspect more of the same will be the last thing on your mind come the end credits.
Points wise this is a very easy way to add yet another easy thousand gamerscore. Assuming you hunt down all of the collectibles and mix up your spells then you will pretty much grab everything in one run through. Unfortunately you will then have to suffer everything a second time, as you only unlock Expert mode after your first completion. Not to mention the fact you will need to get Gold medals on all of the challenge maps which is more of a chore than a challenge really. Still the game is so short that everything can be done in under ten hours with time to spare – much to the obvious relief of anyone that sits down to play this game.
The Harry Potter games used to offer a good mix of fun and puzzling while sticking to the source material pretty well. Unfortunately as the tone of the series took a turn towards the dark side it seems like the quality went down the same tangent. As a third-person shooter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is laughably bad, with poor design, terrible acting and a story that makes zero sense at times. As the last game in a much-loved and anticipated series then a lot more effort should, and could have been lavished on sending it out with a bang. Instead we have a game that is even more sub-par than the last offering. Let’s hope that this is the last we see of Mr Potter as the magic has most definitely gone.
Some of the most awful voice acting in a long time (and we played Resident Evil on the PSone) and the same few lines and taunts are repeated time and again. Prepare to hit the mute button.
Some good textures now and again, but that is the only bright note among terrible character models, flat and uninspired locations and cutscenes that would be out of place on last generation hardware.
Can you hit X? If so then this game is for you as that is pretty much all that is required to succeed. Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
A terrible third-person shooter, and a terrible end to a series beloved by so many. Bad in almost every respect and the fact you can breeze through it in a few hours says it all, though that few hours seems like an eternity.
A dull list and one that is primarily tied to mere progression rather than doing anything out of the ordinary. Having to play the game a second time is less than welcome too.
A stripped down version of the last game, which wasn’t that hot either, and removing the pointless XP system and terrible Kinect experience just makes Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 even more bare bones. Save your money, or spend it on seeing the film or reading the book as they would both offer a better experience and waste less of your valuable time and effort.