Reviewed: July 16, 2011
Released: July 12, 2011
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is the latest game in the Harry Potter video game adaptations series, based on the latest and, in all likelihood, final Harry Potter movie. As someone who read all of the books, watched only three of the movies, and played none of the video games, I was unsure what to expect from EA’s offering.|
If you haven’t experienced the entire Harry Potter story already, you probably shouldn’t jump into this game. The story as presented in the game provides no context or setup. If you don’t know what a horcrux is, you’re going to be lost. If you’re hoping to learn how the story unfolds, this is no substitute for reading the book or watching the movie. The story takes sudden leaps from one point to another with little to no time spent on developing the plot or the characters.
In terms of aesthetics, the animations look slightly awkward, especially in cutscenes. The models and textures are serviceable, but nothing special. You can tell who all the characters are meant to be, but don’t expect anything breathtaking. The sound and music are largely taken straight from the movies as far as I can tell, so they’re solid. The Harry Potter movies have always been good with that. The game also features a good deal of magical bolts of light flying around from every direction, and they feel very satisfying. As long as everything is moving quickly and you don’t have enough attention to focus on how any one particular model is walking around strangely, it looks like an exciting game.
Once you start playing, what you have is a Harry Potter-themed third-person cover shooter. Instead of swapping guns, you select different spells to cast with your wand. You take on the role of Harry Potter and his allies as they work to destroy Voldemort for good. You begin with a Stupefy spell, which is a single-shot attack with moderate damage and decent range. The Protego spell is earned shortly after, allowing you to throw up a force field to protect you from damage as you move. The Expelliaramus spell comes next, which breaks any Protego spells your opponents might have up. Expulso is a short-ranged rapid fire spell that can knock enemies down. Impedimentia can lock on to multiple enemies at once and impair their movement. Confringo has a low rate of fire and the projectile travels slowly, but it explodes on impact. Petrificus Totalus is a long-ranged and accurate spell that provides an enhanced zoom when you try to aim with it. Lastly, Apparate allows you to teleport into or out of cover and reposition yourself quickly.
The game has no regular item pickups that you’d normally expect. There is no ammunition, so you’re encouraged to switch “weapons” by each spell’s rate of fire and most of them becoming less accurate if used frequently in a short period of time. Health is not measured in a concrete way. As you take damage, the colors on the screen fade, eventually becoming black and white before you’re knocked out. If you can cover yourself with Protego or find a safe place to hide, color returns to the screen and you can fight with confidence again.
You can play in either story mode or challenge mode. The game has no multiplayer, so it’s dependent entirely on these two single-player modes to hold its value. The story mode is a short affair. It begins with Harry and his friends attempting to steal Hufflepuff’s cup from Gringotts Bank and ends with a showdown with the Dark Lord. This mode can be completed in as little as five hours. A game can be good, even if it’s short, but Deathly Hallows Part 2 has generally uninspired level design.
What makes this worse is that the Harry Potter universe is full of unique architecture that could be the basis for any number of amazing set pieces, and the game dangles them in front of you, teasing you with interesting places where fights could, but don’t happen, such as on the collapsing rooftops of Hogwarts, or right next to the rail carts that zoom around Gringotts. Every level feels just like any other level, differentiated only by who you happen to be controlling and what spells you currently have access to. Once you get further into the game, that second point of differentiation evaporates as in the late game, you can safely assume that everyone has any spell Harry has except for Apparate.
As you go through the story mode, you can find, tucked away in slightly-hidden nooks and crannies, glowing blue items that, when picked up, unlock things. There are three types of unlockables. You can unlock characters for a model viewer gallery that let you have a closer look at the game’s cast. Music tracks are also unlockable, opening up an option to listen to the game’s symphonic soundtrack. Lastly, challenge mode levels can also be unlocked, allowing you to play the game’s challenge mode. There are no unlocks that are gained in any method other than finding those pickups, so if you’re a person who likes to play games to total completion, a map or online video should be all you need.
The story mode is a disappointment, but the challenge mode is even more of one. You can only attempt challenge mode if you’ve unlocked a challenge in the story mode, and when you do play your reward, you might expect a unique level, or a special challenge that locks some of your spells, or at least a regular level repurposed with a new objective. Unfortunately, what awaits you in challenge mode is almost exactly what you played in story mode. The only difference is that you now have a timer. This is not a time limit that forces you to use your wits to find the most efficient way to go about completing a level to make it in time. It just counts you long you’ve spent in each level. The same play experience could be had by playing a level in story mode and using a stopwatch. The challenge mode can be written off entirely and adds no value to the game.
This is not a game worth buying for anything other than the amusing oddity of having a Harry Potter-themed cover shooter. It’s a short game, but it still doesn’t have the variety in environments that a shooter needs to avoid becoming unacceptably repetitive. The story is incredibly disjointed and you won’t get anything out of it unless you know what’s already going to happen. There’s little redeeming value in this game, and for a game that is supposed to be the finale of a story told across ten years of video games spread across three generations of video game consoles, the developers really should have treated this game with a great deal more respect.