Reviewed: August 4, 2007
Released: June 25, 2007
EA has been in the forefront for making videogames for hit movie franchises for many years including the Harry Potter games since 2001 with their release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." To be perfectly honest, I have never played a Harry Potter games in my life, until now. I have played movie to game titles before, and quite frankly only a few of them have ever been good. I am a big Potter fan and I love the movies and the books. Which leads me to the game I am reviewing, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the PlayStation Portable.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a third person (where the camera is placed behind the characters) action adventure game like all the other Potter games to date. You play as Harry Potter in this new installment (go figure) as you return to Hogwarts once again. Joined by Ron and Hermione, you return to find the school divided in wither or not Voldemort has returned or Harry is dangerous or not. Dolores Umbridge is now the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. It is your job to gain the trust of fellow classmates and prepare for events to come.
The game has a fairly straightforward interface so it is not hard to pick up this game and just play it. Movement is done with the Directional Pad or the Analog stick and spells are cast by pressing the symbols buttons (after you draw your wand with the R button). Objects and people are selectable by tapping the L button and Left or Right to cycle through available choices.
You can also press the Select button to access the Marauder’s Map. The map is a bit hard to see, since it looks like a third grader has drawn it with a dull pencil. Objectives are highlighted on the map with star shaped designs and "Harry's Scar" is your current location. There are about 34 key locations (such as the Great Hall, Library and the Gryffindor Common room) in the game but you have free reign to all of Hogwarts. Destination can be selected as long as they are one of the several key locations.
The game does offer two control choices: Camera Relative and Player Relative. The camera Relative mode follows Harry as if it mounted to the wall on a track and the Relative mode is like a Resident Evil style control view. If you haven't played Resident Evil then stay away from the second choice.
The combat system in this game is pretty easy and the only real full in the game I think. You can engage groups of Slytherin students by drawing your wand and using Stupefy and Protego spells. You gain access to other spells as the game progress so it no all that boring. You also have various other spells at your disposal to make you way through Hogwarts, find hidden Daily Prophets, and scare away Slytherins.
The game is well built as far as letting you explore the entire Hogwarts grounds, and the number of "quests" (around 66 or so) is enough to keep you busy for sure. It is also the main burden of the game. You spend the entire game being, well an errand boy.
Order of the Phoenix is a good game overall but a few problems had me frustrated at the game rather than letting me enjoy it. For one the camera in game stinks, royally. If you near a corner the camera quickly switches to another angle and you end up, more times than not, going back in the direction you came from instead of the way you want to go.
Then there is the small problem of Ron and Hermione standing in the way of EVERYTHING you do. There were parts in the game where I had to move objects around to complete objectives, and they were in the way almost every time.
On a positive note the load times were decent when you have to go through doors or starting where you left off. But unfortunately there is more I don't like about this game. The lack to save the game at will. You must complete missions to SAVE the game. So if you picked up a quest after saving you must finish that mission to save again. I don't know how many time I had to go back to talk to someone because I quit the game.
The graphics in Order of the Phoenix are actually pretty decent, but I feel they lack in some areas. The corridors inside Hogwarts are well done, although somewhat empty at time, but areas outside the castle suffer. There is a bridge in the game where the walls of it are paper-thin.
They did such a decent job on the interior of the castle (especially on the PSP), to let that detail go as it is. The cutscenes are the same as the ones in the PS3 version, and look surprising well for the PSP. Unfortunately these cutscenes are few and far between to be really enjoyed.
The sounds are numerous and I find that very enjoyable. Everything, be it the spells, object interaction, or what have you, it was all done very well. The music was composed by James Hannigan, who also did the scores for other video games like Brute Force and Reign of Fire.
The actors from the movie return to do the voices for all the characters in the game, and to be honest it wouldn't be a Harry Potter game without Daniel Radcliffe’s voice.
This game has about 20 hours of gameplay with all of the quests to do, but those are 20 hours of boredom for me. The repetitiveness of running around doing missions for students and teachers is enough to drive you crazy after a while.
Once you beat this game there really is nothing to tempt you to play it again, unless you missed some hidden items the first time through. The 40-dollar price tag is a bit high but other than that this game is worth playing.
I didn't hate Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I think they could have done a little better on this version of the game. The graphics were good for the most part, the voice acting was good, the music was amazing, but the controls were terrible. I did feel like I was at home in Hogwarts while I played and I really appreciate that quality and level of immersion in a game.
If you want to try the game rent it first and see if you like it before you buy it. Then again, if you’re a hardcore Potter fan with a PSP then this game is definitely worth picking up.