Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 Xbox 360 Review
Publisher – EA – Developer – EA Bright Light – Genre – Action – Players – 1-2 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, Wii, DS
Some of the previous Harry Potter games gave you the chance to explore Hogwarts, although Deathly Hallows does away with the school for wizard’s altogether. In fact, this Harry Potter game is quite a departure when compared to others in the gaming series and this, as it turns out, is one of its first failures.
Of course, this is all down to the source material. Harry and has friends Ron and Hermione have decided to leave Hogwarts behind as they go in search of the Horcruxes. These objects must be destroyed to turn Lord Voldemort mortal once again in order to rid the world of his evil once and for good. But, remember this is only part 1, and part 2 won’t be released until the summer of next year, so, just like the film, don’t expect a complete conclusion to wrap up J.K. Rowling’s famous story just yet.
Those who enjoyed wandering around Hogwarts will miss it in The Deathly Hallows, and this is a game that entirely shuns any form of an open-world – you’ll be travelling through detailed, but very linear, environments and only doing a spot of exploring in order to find the hidden collectibles that are generally just off the main path. This constrained feeling is a real shame, but The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is still playable enough, which is the main thing.
For much of the game you’ll be throwing spells at enemies and enemies, well, will be throwing spells back at you. The combat is decent enough, complete with a lock-on and various spells and potions, but it just feels a little overly repetitive at times. Harry’s magic will grow stronger and new spells will be added to an easy to access selection wheel, although Stupefy, the first spell, is generally enough to do the job and, while switching spells adds some variation, it’s hardly of any great importance, well other than when you require an explosive spell to get past a row of rocks that are blocking your path.
The game also has a cover system, but it feels really quite pointless and as if it was added in at the last second just because it’s popular in other action games, although these other action games generally have better AI and make you feel a lot more vulnerable than you do here. I never really felt the need to get behind cover in most situations in this game and Harry also has a protection spell, which makes the use of said cover even more worthless.
But, it’s certainly not all a disaster – the actual combat works well enough and running around the detailed and dark forests and such is enjoyable. Variation is also present thanks to first person sections involving Harry’s invisibility cloak: this allows you to be hidden from eyes just as long as you don’t reveal yourself by bumping into people or by allowing the energy of the cloak to run down. Like the combat, this works pretty well and there will be plenty of mad scrambles for cover when you accidentally reveal yourself, quickly turning the cloak back on again to get yourself back into hiding mode while enemy spells are shooting past you.
Back to the bad. As I mentioned earlier, The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 becomes overly repetitive, and I don’t only mean the combat, I’m talking about the structure of the game as well. For some reason unknown you’ll find yourself outside the main storyline at times, saving Muggles, dodging dragons, and surviving waves of enemies. You can choose the order you play these missions in, but it’s a rude distraction from your main quest all the same and feels like nothing but extra padding to make it appear longer than it actually is. The same goes for the backtracking, of which the game has a fair bit of in the latter stages, and this also feels like it’s been put in to extend what would otherwise have been a shorter game.
Speaking of longevity, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 also has a few more modes that are there in a bid to extend the amount of time that one will be playing it. There are challenges, in which completing a level as quickly as possible, being restricted to a certain spell and fighting off enemies are the order of the day, with challenges becoming increasingly more difficult challenges. For those whom own Kinect, there’s also a mode dedicated to its use of which is very different to the rest of the game. With the Kinect challenge mode the game turns into an on-rails shooter for up to two players, with spells being chucked by your own hand movements. Kinect and magic tossing wizards always had a lot of potential, and here it works reasonably well for the most part and happens to be a nice little bonus feature outside of the main storyline.
As a whole, though, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is fun in bursts, although it’s too repetitive and has too many problems to rise up above anything other than average. The character has certainly been in better games than this one and, because of this, a lot of fans were probably expecting more than the disappointment that is the end result.