Ah, yes: the elusive quest for the decent movie adaptation game continues once more. Now this quest isn’t always futile, as a surprisingly good, lizard-based platformer displayed only a few months’ back. Unfortunately, my fellow Griffendors, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2’ (DH2) for the PS3 does not survive the weight of this noble pursuit.
In playing DH2, I couldn’t help but empathize with Wii owners no doubt thinking their console custom-made for a proper lightsaber-based, offering. Here I am, staring lovingly at two underused PS3 Move and Navigation controllers, thinking something fantastic can only inevitably occur via a motion-sensitive Harry Potter game. Anticipation mounted as the tip of said Move controller turned Potter blue upon game launch. In both instances, my Wii brethren and I left horribly disappointed.
‘Harry PowerPoint and the Deadly Boring.’
Yup, that’s what I coined this game a few hours in, as aspirations to replicate a tale of wand-based, good versus evil, instead presented as a peculiar point-and-click orgy destined to defeat nefarious quarterly financial results. In a sad state of affairs, what should’ve been gut-wrenching spellcasting against deatheaters devolved into ‘hide behind a series of geometrically-perfect rectangle rocks,’ ‘aim controller at bad guy,’ press ‘random button.’
Worst yet, is this mechanic plays on near-endlessly. Wave after wave of opposing wizards are shot down via Microsoft Office 1998. Duck, aim, click, advance. The boredom mounts exponentially, as any and every environ is comprised of staggered Pythagorean dreams, slews of rectangles where uninspired gameplay can call home.
Moreover, wand nuances resemble a feisty qidditch ball with a mind of its own, randomly de-calibrating…then re-calibrating mid-fight. Interactions with non-playable, supporting characters confound this broken reality, throwing everything into a drunken, wanderlust compass state. As the Move controller is required to simply turn around, the frustration becomes legendary with enemies swarming everywhere….yet Harry seemingly more committed to flashing his arse than wand at them.
I could forgive this sin if buoyed by a substantial storyline, character progression…heck, even some decent character animations and/or friend/foe artificial intelligence. Nope, nope, and….nope.
Thus, I likewise learned a second valuable lesson in this game, such that Potter’s surprising victories against Voldemort occurred in formulaic stage progression. The coolest events are reduced to non-playable cutscenes. If only there was an Expecto Patronum for the boredom which ensued.
To explain – and even when switching characters – success must occur via ‘your fellow Hogwartian takes eons to simply open a friggin’ door’ progression events. Now, I always thought Hermione Granger a badass witch to the nth degree. Insert a lone asterisk, however, for casting spells to open what appear to be simple wooden points of entry. Label me a sceptic, but after oodles of failed attempts at Alohomora, even Ron Weasley would deduce checking for a doorknob or an inside latch.
Related, DH2 seems to celebrate sending characters back and forth across checkpoints, to the same damn spots, over and over again. It doesn’t take a fire brigade to ascertain Harry’s lambada (it’s the forbidden dance, you know) between adjacent rocks and dragon flames is likely to violate a slew of Hogsmeade safety and fire codes.
Alas, switching characters is like changing underwear. Same old thing, just slightly fresher. Ditto taking on bigger, faster, and stronger evil wizards. Regurgitated duck-and-cover, point-and-click combat…only ten times as long to take these individuals down. I confess to having wanted to Stupify my head against the wall in search of something even remotely different.
Third ‘nope’ is the abomination of stale character models and voice-overs which – in every way, shape and form – fail to capture any of the essence of the wonderful Potter vision. Poor Hermione, the most boring voice-over in movie-to-game conversion history. Ron is clearly and dangerously constipated judging by an awkward gait across dangerous rocky terrain. Neville and Seamus need a chiro; hopelessly doomed to posture corrections as to not meander hunchback-like. Finally, please put an end to the triangular, floating and muddy hair effect on photo-realistic models. Dumbledore’s brother must own a beard trimmer intended to shave weighty polygons.
I offer the above knowing this game targeted toward younger folk; aspiring wizards and witches of whom I pray didn’t nag Mum to snare a means of extending the movie experience. It’s crystal clear that DH2’s control scheme and gameplay nuances are intended for these littler people among us. It’s also readily transparent that this simplification fails to successfully overcome the deadly trio of stale gameplay, characters, and level design. To think: DH2 is the fastest grossing movie of all time, no less.
In closing, it’s simply difficult to recommend ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2’ for the PS3 to any audience, even the most diehard of Potter fans. There’s a lot more to love in Lego Potter, with this failed attempt at Move implementation a more damning conviction.