Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC | Wii | DS
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince box art
System: X360, PS3, PC, PS2, Wii PSP DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Bright Light 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: June 30, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Return to Hogwarts
by Amanda L. Kondolojy

As far as movie tie-ins go, there are generally three categories they can fall into: good, bad, and ugly. While this year’s movie tie-in games have already seen their share of bad and ugly with titles like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator: Salvation, I am happy to report that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince falls very firmly into the good category. While it is by no means perfect, the game is certainly charming, and I couldn’t help but enjoy the latest video game adventure of everyone’s favorite wizard-in-training.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince screenshot

Like most movie-affiliated games, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince takes you through the events of the upcoming movie. However, if you are worried about possible spoilers in the game, you might not have to be all that concerned; although you will see plenty of relevant plot points, the actual storyline is quite vague in the game. Events happen for no real reason, and a lot of the cinema scenes leave out important details. While this may be unforgivable in a regular game, it actually works well here; those who haven’t seen the movie will get just enough information to keep them excited for the upcoming film, but the entire movie won’t be explicitly spelled out.

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The gameplay in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is very simple, and it involves three different types of mini-game style challenges: Quidditch, potion-making, and magic dueling. The first mini-game style challenge you will face is Quidditch. Playing Quidditch in this game is very simple and involves flying your broomstick around a giant field and passing through circular time gates. Although the game does not have a countdown clock, if you are taking too long to pass through the time gates, they will change color from green to yellow, and eventually, red. By passing through these time gates, you will come ever closer to the golden snitch, and once you catch it, the mini-game is over.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince screenshot

The potion-making mini-game is a lot like Quidditch, and it relies heavily on speed and reflexes. During each potion-making session, you will be given a recipe and a time limit. Each line of this recipe will pop up on-screen automatically, and you will have to boil, stir, and add ingredients to a giant cauldron until the contents change to a certain color. Once the contents change to the appropriate color, you will have to stop adding/boiling/stirring, and then the game will automatically move on to the next step. However, if you keep going and the color changes from the one indicated on the recipe, you’ll be faced with a big smoke plume and won’t get an extra time bonus, which can result in failure (and a gentle “try again” message).

The final mini-game-style challenge is Duels. Whether its friend, admirer, or enemy, it seems everyone at Hogwarts this year wants to put their spell casting skills against yours, so dueling is a huge part of the gameplay. The game gives you access to six spells for duels: Stupefy, Charged Stupefy, Levicorpus, Expelliarmus, Petrificus Totalus, and Protego. Although you could use all of these spells very strategically to stun and attack your opponent, I found it much easier to run around your enemies in circles, and then hit them with quick-fire Stupefy spells in the back before they have a chance to turn around. The combat mechanic here is incredibly shallow, even for a kid-targeted game, and I was a little disappointed at how easy the battles were.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince screenshot

Although the main gameplay is only comprised of these three challenges, I can’t say I was ever really bored. The challenges do ramp up in difficulty as you progress, which helps it feel less repetitious, and for a game that is finished in less than 5 hours, there was enough variation on the mini-games to keep the experience entertaining.

Screenshots / Images
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