Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Review
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix is a game crafted for Potter fans. It assumes that youíre very familiar with Harry, his friends and enemies, and the storyline of the book or film. There are very few cutscenes in the game and those that are included do more to serve as bookmarks to let you know about where in the story you are than as a way to convey the story. If youíre one of the undoubtedly few people who havenít read the book or seen the film, youíre sure to be hopelessly lost when it comes to the gameís story. Those of you intimately familiar with all things Potter are in for a treat, though.
The game dispenses with a rigid story-based structure to set you free to explore the Hogwarts School. From the Defense Against the Dark Arts tower down to Snapeís Potions classroom in the dungeon, from the Gryffindor common room out to Hagridís hut, the entire school has been recreated. There are plenty of sights to see, secrets to find, and mini games to play. The halls are filled with students and as they walk by you can hear them say hi to you (or just as likely insult you) or you can overhear them conversing with each other as you go past. Itís the most immersive representation of Harryís world to date, and this alone will be enough to make many Potter fans quite happy with the game.
It wouldnít be Harry Potter without any magic and The Order of the Phoenix puts a small assortment of spells into your hands. Casting spells is pretty easy Ė you pull your wand out and then move the right stick in various directions as if you were wiggling a wand. Youíre not free to cast spells on anything youíd like; the interactive objects have all been predetermined by the game designers as well as which spells will work on them. A handy autotargeting button will lock on and cycle through the objects on which you can cast spells to make it easier to pick them out. Iíve played the game on several systems and I have to say the spell casting works the best on the PlayStation 3 - I didnít encounter any of the target lock issues or spell casting problems that I ran into on other systems here.
While there are plenty of things to find and cast your magic on, not very much of it is all that challenging. Lighting every torch you see, pushing curtains aside to see whatís behind them, and other such activities wonít challenge many but the youngest of wizards out there. The story-based missions arenít that challenging either, requiring you to do a lot of fetching of items or carry messages from one character to another. This isnít the sort of game you play for the challenge; you really do need to be a big Potter fan to enjoy it.
The biggest disappointment I had with the game was with the wizard duels. A wizard duel should be an exciting event, with spells and counter spells being cast with furious abandon. In this game, though, they play out more like a mini game in which you spend most of your time shuffling from side to side to dodge spells while twirling the right stick to fire off your own spells. Itís not technically button mashing since youíre working the stick the whole time, but you can pretty much flick the stick around to fire spells off at random and still win all of the wizard duels.
The Order of the Phoenix is best left to loyal Potter fans and younger gamers. Those with only a passing interest in the film will probably get bored with it long before having to face He Who Must Not Be Named.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 82%. A treat for Harry Potter fans.