Time is great for two reasons. Firstly, you won’t feel guilty about having that stash of Emma Watson photos on your PC, since she’s now legal and all that. Secondly, lastly, and in some arguable cases, more importantly, time gives you hope that developers would end up making a game based on the Harry Potter movies that would at least be competent. While everyone’s favourite bespectacled wizard has had over ten games (and a myriad of spin-offs) over the years, it would be fair to say that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is perhaps his worst outing. Ever. And though that might seem like a harsh statement, rest assured, it’s one that’s pretty toned down. The original version had a lot of swear words; some newly invented just for this specific game. That however, is fodder for another story.
Deathly Hallows Part 2 follows a very Call of Duty-meets-Gears of War approach to gameplay, which isn’t such a good thing. You have a wand and you use it to shoot a variety of spells. In addition to this, you can take cover or cast a spell that acts as a shield when you can’t. Later in the game, when things get too dicey, you can apparate (a fancy term for teleport) across the battlefield. Oh and you’re not alone; you always have a squad of friendly but utterly useless AI along for the ride.
There’s a ton of scripted chase sequences, QTEs and all the modern day gaming tropes we’ve all come to accept. Also, not only do you play as Harry Potter, but you also end up being other well-known characters from the franchise, like Professor McGonagall and Ron Weasley, as you set off to put an end to Lord Voldemort once and for all. A tad tragic given that such well-fleshed out protagonists are reduced to mere cookie-cutter templates with no uniqueness or difference in controlling them. In fact, none of these ideas are implemented in a way that would be appealing to the biggest Harry Potter fanboy/girl/house elf simply because everything is a shambling mess. From the rushed environments to the nameless hoards of wizards baying for your blood with the same cockney accent, repeating the same phrases till the games heavily scripted ending, this game suffers from a general lack of detail. The source material includes a book and a movie that have a great degree of detail, but none of it makes itself apparent here.
The PS3 version lets you use PS Move, though it wasn’t exactly the best experience as it felt extremely floaty and highly inaccurate, so much so that I ended up switching back to the Dualshock 3 after a couple of levels. The controller was a welcome change, but aiming and cover was quite weak in execution as the game lacked the weight and feel of most shooters on the market. Even though features such as apparition sound great in theory, it wasn’t so in practice as, at times, it quite flatly refused to work at all. You would find yourself in the middle of a swam of enemies and very soon facing the game over screen thanks to the wonky controls.
More hilariously, all the spells seem to be magical variants of the wealth of weapons contemporary action games bring to the table. The Stupefy spell is like your basic pistol, while Impedimenta seems to do the job of a rocket launcher. It’s tough to tell who this game is for; it’s way too easy for your average gamer, and a tad too tough for your dyed in wool Pottermaniac. The worst part? It’s just two and a half hours long. Heck, I’m all for shorter games, but when the length of a game is shorter than its movie equivalent and costs ten times more than a ticket to watch said movie, there is a definite problem. I guess this is what happens when dudebro shooters and JK Rowling’s works combine. They spawn a half-assed, poorly thought game that isn’t playable or recommended for any age group.
It’s quite tragic for a superlative series of movies, books and whatever have you to end on such a pathetic note considering how the Harry Potter universe is ripe for building a fantastic game (maybe that’s what Pottermore would end up being?). As you can tell from the tone of this review, you can do much better than waste your time on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, like watching the movie ten times. Or more practically, grab the superb Lego Harry Potter instead.