Harry Potter and the Curse of the Terrible Movie Game
It was going to happen, sooner or later after a bunch of fairly Ok releases for the Harry Potter franchise and the really quite good, Lego: Harry Potter. A really duff game was bound to show up, like the absolutely awful Movie -> Game curse must claim yet another victim.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1...
I'm not going to spoil the movie by trying to explain the game's story, let's just say that like many movie games before it...liberties are taken and the whole thing opens with a completely terrible on-rails shooting sequence that has no real sense of finite control, in other words, aiming your spells sucks.
The story is disjointed and the game suffers from padding left right and centre, there's more padding here than on a Staypuft Marshmallow man.
Also, the lip synching and the cut-scenes are terrible as well.
Gears of Potter or perhaps we should call it Harry of War is pretty much the order of the day here. Only it's like they took the best bits of Gears and the worst bits of Harry Potter and combined them into a deadly cocktail of gameplay that works about as well as a chocolate fireguard. Movement is clumsy; the camera switches often between first person in some sections to third person. One moment you're shooting spells from cover against the Death Eaters and the next you're teleported to a new zone without a single explanation as to how and why. Obviously it's that little snot Miss Granger who as Apported (Teleported) you there. It would have been nice to actually have some plot here and some exposition, nope, you're left in the dark as to how you got there.
Potter reference after reference from the movie is thrown in, along with some stuff from the previous books. Harry's cloak makes reappearance and you have to sneak around wearing it, because now it's actually got a limited amount of time before it wears off unlike the movie counterpart. An enforced sneaking section ensues and the clumsy controls and lack-lustre design shine through here like a Muggle in a Pratchett Convention.
This smacks of padding, and the game is full of that.
You can cast various spells from the books and movies, using things like Stupify to stun your opponents with the equivalent of a 'magic missile' and Patronus to protect against the Dementors. It's not fun though, it's not fun at all. It's a chore to even progress from one poorly conceived section to the next. This isn't the kind of game that the Potter franchise needs, not at all.
There's no sense of wonder or exploration, even the worst third person shooters manage to keep things somewhat engaging. This is just the same old-same old throughout the whole game.
As you cast spells and defeat foes, Harry levels up. Woo, at this point I was actually past caring and decided that this was some kind of Purgatory and I'd actually died from boredom. The gameplay can be described in a single word: Terrible.
Combine two words, lack and lustre and you get the idea here. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has some downright terrible graphics and a lot of the characters look unlike their on-screen counterparts. I didn't think it was impossible to get Voldemort wrong, but somehow this game manages to make him look pretty. Harry looks vaguely like he does in the film, Ron isn't too bad but Miss Granger is about as accurate as a rifle with a bent iron sight.
Texturing is off, everything looks flat and the lighting is also lacking. The special effects in a game about spells are also dull and boring. The whole graphics package looks as though it could have quite easily been placed on the PS2 back in the day, but that could be an insult to the PS2.
Stilted...broken and jittery. Cover doesn't quite work correctly at times and it shows in the game's animation as well. Getting in and out of cover in a cover based shooter should be smooth, this isn't. The running animations and walking animations just look bad and the combat animations when the enemy just fall down are downright laughable.
What AI? Death Eaters will stand out in the open and let you pummel them with spells, or run around like headless chickens trying to decide which bit of cover they might want to hide behind. At one point there was a conflict of interests between the Death Eater on the right and the one on the left who both wanted the same bit of cover. It ended with them both blown off their feet by a snickering Harry, which was not as fun as I made it sound.
Again if you want a single word for this: Terrible.
At last something that I can't really grumble about. The sound for the game's pretty Ok, there's nothing special and it certainly lacks atmosphere - the spells are somewhat washed out aurally and they lack any kind of audio impact. Ok, so perhaps I can grumble about the sound.
Nothing wrong with the Harry Potter score, the films have some of the best music I've heard for a long time. Thankfully it seems that the score has been lifted from the films and placed into the game.
Voice and Dialogue
Too many Potter references for hard-core fans, not enough storytelling dialogue and a stilted script combine with some Ok performances from the proper cast and some god-awful stand-ins for some of the characters that do a laughable performance and deliver their lines as if they were reading from a very badly designed autocue.
Like the rest of the game this feature has been badly implemented. The sensor is better than this, it's more accurate, just look at Kinect Adventures or Kinectimals compared to Deathly Hallows part 1 and you'll see what I mean. The Kinect part of the game is basically a proper on-rails shooter where you use your hands to cast spells and do various other actions in game, like throwing grenades (potions) at your enemies.
The pattern recognition is terrible and even a 'simple' Stupify spell takes several moments to cast, if at all. Selecting things from a menu with your hand is a chore and the icon often jitters around the screen compared to other Kinect games. There's a two player option too, however no one that I asked to play with me said yes...they backed off making the sign of the Evil Eye and left the room quickly.
I'm not sure if this was the game's fault or the Potter franchise itself.
I'm thinking the game however.
This is part 1?
If this is Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows game then I can sum up in a few simple words my feelings on a sequel.
DO NOT WANT!
Seriously, if this is the shape of Kinect control for regular games and the shape of the Harry Potter game franchise for the future...then basically...bury it all now and save it the embarrassment. I've found the worst game of 2010 so far and the worst game of the Harry Potter franchise to date. Seriously if you're a fan, don't even bother - if you're not...then save yourself the trouble of trying to become a fan with this game and buy Lego: Harry Potter.