Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
In the films and books, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is an enormous, labyrinthine castle. Getting from one side to the other in time for class seems like a challenge for Harry Potter and his fellow students, what with all the ground that needs to be covered. While Hogwarts is a pleasure to read about and watch in theaters, itís absolute punishment to play through.
The majority of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix consists of nothing but walking through Hogwarts, with the occasional mini-game, typically in the guise of a class that Harry needs to pass. The backgrounds are pre-rendered, much like the early Resident Evil games. One good thing is that the many, many screens capture the size of Hogwarts, but it doesnít capture any of the personality. Nearly every screen is empty and there interaction is kept to a minimum. Harry might as well be in a desert considering the lack of things to do around Hogwarts. The worst part is that it takes far too long to get to the destination, especially with the shoddy controls and awkward camera angles.
“Harry is forced to a ridiculous amount of mundane tasks”Since there are so many screens and sudden camera angles, becoming disoriented is common. Moving Harry is done with the directional pad, though he moves quite stiffly and looks like an absolute goof while running. Due to a lack of a joystick, moving diagonally just isnít comfortable in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The on-screen arrow which holds your hand and points exactly where to go makes getting around insultingly easy, but it beats wandering the expansive, lifeless halls of Hogwarts whilst battling the ineffective controls and camera angles.
This game follows a bare thread of the movieís storyline, although things are still incoherent. To pad things out, Harry is forced to a ridiculous amount of mundane tasks. The developers knew that these werenít exciting enough to be called quests, adventures or even chapters. Upon loading up a saved game, youíll see that the game is actually divided into tasks (28 of them) Harry Potter, the Chosen One and one of the most famous wizards in the world, doesnít get to do much as from going there, grabbing this and generally taking orders from anyone in talking distance. He also repairs far too many broken objects by sketching the same squiggle over and over again with the stylus.
Completing the mini-games is as dull as walking through the barren Hogwarts. One of Harryís classes is a mini-game that is nothing more than coloring inside the lines. Frantically brushing the stylus into the shape of a rat doesnít take advantage of the fantastical world of the films and books. Another equally lame game is the history course, which is nothing more than a quiz that requires knowledge from outside the game. Iíve seen all the movies and read all the books, but I cared so little about this mini-game that I just completed it through trial and error. To be fair, a couple mini-games work well, such as the frantic potions class and the curling-inspired Gobstones. The multi-player options are extremely limited, which isnít a bad thing since I doubt anyone would want to play with you. Donít take it personally, itís just that thereís little fun to be had.
“Despite appearances, each character has the same spells (which includes the all-powerful tickling spell)”Another equally uninteresting segment of the game are the duels. When Harry isnít wandering the depressingly empty hallways or using magic to complete bland mini-games, heís getting in a fight with Draco Malfoy and his equally one-dimensional friends. The turn-based fights feature Harry, Ron and Hermionie, but only one spell per party can be cast each turn. Things move so slowly and the necessity to connect-the-dots with the stylus does little to speed things up. Even worse than the sluggish pace is the frequency of the fights. During most of the tasks, sometimes more than once, Draco and his cronies appear and say something along the lines as ďYouíll never defeat us.Ē The lack of a difficulty means that they will be beaten often. Despite the constant trouncing they all receive, they continually feel the urge to challenge Harry to these pathetic duels. Spell power can be increased at the end of most tasks, but there isnít much reason for planning since by the end of the game, each character will be fully strengthened.
In the final task of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the dreary Hogwarts is left so there can be a climactic showdown in the Ministry of Magic. This last task is simply more duels, albeit with different characters this time. Despite appearances, each character has the same spells (which includes the all-powerful tickling spell). The fighting continues to be terrible in these final moments. In a display of developer laziness, the end of the game consists of nothing more than Harry standing in an empty room as the screen-swirling duel introduction plays again and again with an occasional incoherent screen that advances the ďstoryĒ after each fight. Itís a fitting end to an utterly abysmal game.
Two out of ten
- Tolerable music
- Decent graphics
- Wandering through empty hallways is no fun
- Dueling is no fun
- The mini-games are mostly no fun