Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Review
One of the many faults of most games based on movies is that they stick too closely to the script. You jump from one scene in the movie to the next, always knowing whatís around each corner, without ever experiencing any of the movie magic the film generated when you saw it for the first time. If there ever was a game in need of capturing the magic of the movie on which itís based itís a Harry Potter game, and with The Order of the Phoenix EA may just have pulled off the trick.
The thing that really sets The Order of the Phoenix apart from other movie-licensed games is that rather than simply recreating the movieís storyline, the game places the story within a recreation of Harry Potterís world. When youíre talking about Harryís world youíre talking about Hogwarts, and the gameís developers made the sound decision to start by recreating the school of wizardry thatís so central to the movies and books. The Order of the Phoenix sends you to Hogwarts and lets you explore its halls, rooms, and towers. Itís pretty much all here, the students roaming the halls, the animated portraits that speak to you, the shifting staircases, the Gryffindor common rooms, Myrtleís bathroomÖ the list goes on. And youíre not constrained to watching these areas flash by during a cutscene or action sequence; youíre free to explore it all at your leisure. And if simply roaming the school just to see it all isnít enough motivation for you, Hogwarts is packed with interactive items and secrets that can be unlocked with a little spell casting. Finding these secrets earns you points that both level up your spell effectiveness and unlock bonus features such as interviews with the gameís developers.
As you can probably guess, navigating your way through a place designed by the witches and wizards of Harryís world can be difficult and trying. Luckily the game provides you with a couple of helpful tools for getting around Hogwarts. The first is the Marauderís Map which provides a map of the entire school along with a list of all of the rooms and important people. Selecting a room or person not only highlights the location on the map, but also provides you with the wizardís equivalent of GPS navigation. After selecting a destination and returning to the main screen, youíll see footsteps leading in the direction that you need to go. Not only is this a very convenient tool, itís cleverly integrated into the world of Harry Potter.
While youíre free to roam the castle at your leisure, there are story-based missions to move the plot along. The game pretty much assumes that youíre quite familiar with The Order of the Phoenix as the cutscenes are brief montages that include numerous shots of stories in The Daily Prophet. These serve more as placeholders to let you know where you are in the story rather than as a means to convey the plot to the player. None of the missions are all that hard to complete, but thatís to be expected in a game designed to appeal to a wide age range.
You canít have a Harry Potter game without magic and youíll have plenty of opportunities to pull out your wand and cast some spells in this game. The right trigger is used to pull out your wand and each spell is cast by moving and/or rotating the right stick in different directions. The left trigger is used to cycle through the available spell targets in the area. Unfortunately hereís where the game gets a bit frustrating. The game doesnít always cycle through the targets when the trigger is pulled and you sometimes need to move around a bit before the game lets you target something. Spells sometimes fizzle as well, so you may come across a torch on the wall and then spend the next few minutes trying to target it and make several attempts to light it once you do. Spell casting just plain needs to be a lot easier and intuitive in a Harry Potter game.
At several times during the game youíll have to face other wizards and witches in duels and battles. This brings into play another set of spells geared for dueling that are controlled in the same way as the other spells Ė in fact, they share the same stick movements. Dueling isnít really that much fun; you just step left and right to dodge spells while spinning the stick to cast your own. Most of the challenge comes from fighting the game camera and spell lock which seem to have big troubles keeping up with groups of wizards casting spells at each other.
While the game camera and spell casting have their flaws, they donít manage to bring the game down with them. Overall, The Order of the Phoenix is an enjoyable experience for anyone whoís a fan of the books and movies. Just being given a chance to roam the halls of Hogwarts is enough to please most Potter fans.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 81%. The Order of the Phoenix is the best Harry Potter game to date and the first one thatís a real treat for fans of the books and movies.