With poorly written dialogue and shamefully cut cut-scenes Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is a passable game, it's not the worst game of its type but it certainly lacks the kind of polish that EA is able to provide. The whole game looks and feels rushed but should be a draw for Harry Potter fans regardless. The Half Blood Prince has a few things going in its favour, for a start there are the improved controls on foot and when you're suspended in the air in the obligatory broom-riding part of the game.
Rushed and poorly told, the story to the Half Blood Prince should be, according to Potter fans and aficionados some of the best writing in the series, as far as the games concerned it's badly done though. It is based on the movie and movie games are often cursed.
Billed as an action-adventure game, it's light on the action and fans of sandbox exploration are going to love it. Hogwarts has been re-created and you're not free to go anywhere unlike the previous game, you're locked down onto a path and you can engage in only three types of mini-games to boot. There's mixing potions, dodging spells in duelling and of course flying around top-gun style on the back of a broomstick. Mastering these challenges you get passing marks and eventually you can get back to the story. It's all rather formulaic and tired in this day and age. This kind of grind, where you repeated engage in the three activities bogs the game down and needlessly extends the game's play time, a trick that Draco Malfoi would be proud of.
There is Nearly Headless Nick though, who replaces the dark footprints and makes Hogwarts a doddle to get around. So it's not all that bad (even though Nick's delivery leaves something to be desired).
The problem is that the game is pretty easy once you get used to the spell casting system, it's a doddle to repeat the same spell and the battle system, which appears deep suddenly becomes a shallow lake where spamming magic wins you any kind of fight or duel.
Whilst there's no pop-up or texture problem in the game, there is a lack of variety in the graphics and everything looks rushed, it looks washed out and rather like Harry Potter games as a whole it's been seen and done before with no visual improvements. Character models look boring and uninspired, some of the characters resemble their movie game counterparts barely whilst others look the part, and it's a mixed bag. There are frame rate problems and jitters as well as a few other freezes.
These are likewise; a mixed bag and they are stiff in places and fluid in others. Harry is fairly well animated but some of his opponents occasionally glitch as the game could have done with some more polish in this area and it shows.
They seem to have done a passable job on the physics, spells interact well enough with in-game objects and there's a few times where characters might pass into a bit of the game's scenery, this doesn't happen all the time and you might actually not experience it as we did.
It's nothing stellar and it does the job well enough, sometimes it appears to forget what it's doing and gives you an opening to attack in Duel Mode when it should be defending.
It has a good solid score and this is a high point of the game, sweeping musical accompaniment and stirring battle tunes all serve to give a nice ambience to the game.
As you might expect, the spot effects and ambient effects are good.
This is badly written and scripted at best, a stilted writing style hampers the game and destroys the atmosphere with needless jokes and staid verbal conversations.
Some of the original cast return, they do a stilted job of delivering their lines from the awful script and the filler cast are terrible. All in all the voice work in the game is atrocious and whilst not quite up to Two Worlds standards of bad, it's getting there and the game developers and EA should definitely think about upping the ante for the next inevitable game.
The game has an unlockable Duel Mode by finding collectibles, which is grindy and boring to do. The Duel Mode does not help elevate the game from its low points though and it's mediocre fun at best.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince does not do a good job of following the film, the story is encapsulated by poorly written dialogue, bad voice acting and trite design. The flow of the story is butchered by badly compressed and written cut scenes and when you add it all together you're best to go and see the film and rent the game if you must.