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Michael Kontoudis
01 Sep, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Review

PS3 Review | Gears of Wand.
Of all the literary and cinematic intellectual properties going around, one would be hard-pressed to finger one with a world more suited to videogame adaptation than the Harry Potter franchise. A rich, complex world filled with a variety of colourful characters, dastardly villains and magical properties, it would seem a no-brainer that license-holder Electronic Arts would succeed in bringing the rich storylines and environments of JK Rowling’s opus into the interactive domain. Sadly, however, most of the games based on the cinematic adaptations of the books have been, to put it mildly, less than inspiring. Sure, highlights such as 2002’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets proved to be enjoyable lightweight romps through a beloved literary world, but none of the entries have managed to truly capture the essence of their source material. EA has tried valiantly to keep things fresh over the course of eight games, switching from linear action titles to open-world explore-a-thons and back again, but 2010’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was perhaps the most curious adaptation of all: a linear, third-person shooter with an over-the-shoulder perspective and an emphasis on taking cover. In short, the game was hardly faithful to the contemplative pace and detailed narrative of Rowling’s final novel and its cinematic adaptation. Flash forward to 2011, and alongside the release of the final film in the cinematic series comes EA’s last opportunity to do right by the franchise: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. So is it the Chosen One, or merely another mudblood?

Character models look the part, but the illusion is shattered when they open their mouths.

Character models look the part, but the illusion is shattered when they open their mouths.
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As an adaptation, Deathly Hallows Part 2 barely stumbles over the line. Retelling of the events of the final half of the series’ final tome, the game’s narrative resembles little more than a half-hearted collection of locales and pivotal events. Gamers will plumb the depths of Gringotts to plunder the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange, sneak into Hogsmeade and take part in the final, climactic Battle of Hogwarts, but there is little resonance to be found in Deathly Hallows Part 2 as it careens from one linear shooting gallery to another without care for characterization, nuance or faithfulness to the intricacies of the plot of either the novel or film. Accordingly, it is difficult to imagine the audience which EA hopes to capture with the game. Devotees of all things Harry Potter are sure to take umbrage at the game’s butchering of key events in the name of sculpting a third-person shooter, while casual game players will have nary a notion of the difference between hallows or horcruxes and are sure to find themselves bewildered. In short, very few fans of Harry Potter are likely to appreciate the piecemeal manner in which EA has co-opted the iconography of Rowling’s story without regard for its wit, warmth or thematic complexity. Obligation, and not inspiration, is the order of the day, even when it comes to the game’s presentation: character models are detailed, but stiff, often plunging into the depths of the uncanny valley to uncomfortable effect. Sound-alikes stand in for the film’s vast cast, and none are all that convincing. Deathly Hallows Part 2 looks the part, vaguely sounds the part, but never comes across more than a cheap facsimile of the genuine article.

Most of the game looks like this. Harry's back is probably chafing.

Most of the game looks like this. Harry's back is probably chafing.
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As a third-person shooter, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is barely competent and fairly unchanged from Part 1 in terms of its base mechanics. Players assume control of Harry himself, in addition to a number of other characters from Hermione and Ron to Professor McGonagall and Seamus Finnigan, offering up their unique perspective on the story’s major events. No matter who players control, however, minute-to-minute gameplay consists of little more than traipsing down lush, handsomely rendered corridors and taking cover behind an array of conveniently placed waist-high objects as an unending swarm of Death Eaters swoop in to be incapacitated. Wands and spells take the place of guns, naturally, with spells like confringo and stupefy standing in for grenades and pistols respectively. With each face button representing two of the half-dozen or so spells, switching between attacks is relatively simple, but the action is never anything less than rote on account of a lack of variety. While some levels will find players defending Hermione from attackers as she works to unlock a door (alohomora, obviously!) or fending off pursuing enemies in on-rails sequences, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is little more than four-or-so hours of aiming wands down cross-hairs and holding down the shoulder buttons until your enemies fall down. Not even the inclusion of timed challenges or the obligatory collectibles will inspire more than a stifled yawn from most. The design of Deathly Hallows Part 2 is insipid in the extreme, its action never viscerally exciting, its pacing lacklustre – it would not be overstepping the mark, therefore, to suggest that EA has cobbled a product together simply to coincide with a film release date.

Shots like this make the game look more exciting than it actually is.

Shots like this make the game look more exciting than it actually is.
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Truly terrible games are often hilarious in their ineptitude, but what of the desperately average games without any notable faults or failings? Deathly Hallows Part 2 is technically competent, free from any game-breaking bugs or mechanical foibles, and for the most part is perfectly playable. It functions as a game, but it never stirs the senses or the imagination. As a shooter, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is bland; as a Harry Potter adaptation, it is inexcusably sloppy. In the context of recent release such as 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, where the developers took a beloved license and did it justice in every possible fashion, EA’s efforts are doubly disappointing. There is no reason why a captivating, detailed and immersive Harry Potter videogame experience cannot be created – however Deathly Hallows Part 2 is certainly not it, and probably not worth anyone’s time.
The Score
Short, bland and doggedly unfaithful to the spirit of its source material, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a game destined to be rejected by both fans of the books and third-person shooters alike.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 Comments
2 years ago
As much as I love Harry Potter and might enjoy this game (yet to play it), I have to agree based from looks and trailers alone that it is very lackluster.

It's a shame, out of everything they could have done, out of all the money the series has made and out of all the money EA has, they just didn't make a game that could of been brilliant.

It's so disheartening to see a universe with so much material and wonder in it to be pushed aside without even a second thought. I almost want to find the person ultimately responsible and give em a taste of my wand.
2 years ago
If my understanding is correct, EA only had the license to the movies, not the books themselves. Hence, the Harry Potter games were never likely to get close to capturing the essence of the novels... icon_sad.gif
2 years ago
Jeremy wrote
If my understanding is correct, EA only had the license to the movies, not the books themselves. Hence, the Harry Potter games were never likely to get close to capturing the essence of the novels... icon_sad.gif
That's a shame, once they made remakes of the Philosophers Stone and the Chamber of Secrets when the 6th generation was gaining speed. All I can hope for is that they remake some of their games, especially those that got some bad reception (Goblet of Fire, Deathly Hallows, Half-Blood Prince)
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/07/2011 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $99.95 AU
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Year Made:
  2011
Players:
  1

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