At this stage, the Harry Potter franchise is as powerful as Dumbledore’s wand, which makes it immaterial how good the video game (of the movie, of half the last book) actually is: it’ll still sell by the shed-load. That said, the good folks at EA wouldn’t like to be associated with a dud, and it’s a credit to them that the game is an enjoyable action adventure that mirrors the plot of its literary and celluloid siblings pretty accurately.
However, and it’s a big concern, with a total playing time of less than four hours (including the super-long cut-scenes), you don’t get much bang for your buck, or much stupefy for your wand. It’s a shame that there isn’t more to the game, because what is there is actually very good, as Harry and his wizardly chums fight their way through a veritable army of Death Eaters en route to finding and destroying the horcruxes, entities which contain the blood of the dark lord himself.
It’s pretty much a mixture of combat and exploration, with most of your time taken up with the former, as you learn a heap of new, more powerful spells, the further you progress. You also get to step into the robes of a number of familiar characters, from Ron to Seamus, as you bid to defy Voldemort and his minions. Generally, switching between spells at speed is the key to success: some spells take longer than others to regenerate, leaving you vulnerable unless you quickly change to another offensive casting. Nowhere is this more important than in the game’s toughest level, as you (playing Maggie Smith’s Minerva McGonnagall) defend the bridge to Hogwarts from marauding rock-throwing giants – it’s during this period that you notice how clunky the targeting mechanism is.
The graphics are pretty impressive, with the characters instantly recognisable as their big-screen counterparts, the voice-acting good and the gameplay just the right side of repetitive. The trouble is there just isn’t enough of it: you feel like you’re only really getting the hang of the spell-casting when you’re at the end. OK, so the game is targeted at a younger audience than State, and comes with a 12 rating, but we reckon even younger teenagers won’t have too much trouble taking the bespectacled Potter all the way to his final reckoning with Voldemort.