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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Review

Steve Butts | 22 Jul 2011 23:00
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Is this it? Can it be? The final Harry Potter movie tie-in game? I've been unfortunate enough to have reviewed a few of these over the past ten years, including the previous installment, and I can't say I'm sad to see them go. While I'm a fan of the franchise overall, the only game in the series that I actually liked was Traveler's Tales Lego game. That said, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 isn't thoroughly bad. It's not good either, you understand, but this is one of the few Harry Potter games I actually kind of enjoyed.

Part of it is due to the game's length. At just a few hours, it took me about as long to finish this game as it did to watch the movie it was based on. There's a bit of replayability with the extra challenges and harder modes, but you'll be finished with this one in a day or two. The gameplay and environments have been seriously improved, but the repetition and complete failure to actually tell a comprehensible story keep you from enjoying the game's strengths.

I was originally skeptical of the series' transition to a cover-based shooter in Deathly Hallows 1. The chest-high walls seemed out of place in that game but they're more at home here, in part because the developers have made them a greater focus. Now you're not bouncing from a cover-based shooter to a stealth game to an exploration game. You're just playing a shooter where the machine guns have been replaced with wands. Sure, there are a few alternative sequences, which mostly involve running away from explosions/fires/floods/etc. but even these usually have some sort of shooting element. The levels are also more suited to this type of gameplay, with lots of available cover and a real incentive to move around during the battle to gain an edge over your opponent.

Probably the best improvement made to the shooting part of the game is that the spells actually matter now. The last game had spells that looked different but just dealt generic damage to your enemies. Now you'll actually have to pick the right spells for the situation. Enemies blocking your attacks? Take them out with Expelliarmus. Enemies crouching behind a distant wall? Drop a homing attack on them with Impedimenta. Have an enemy right in your face and want them to drop quickly? Use the rapid fire Expulso on them. It may parallel the standard shooter conceits, but it's nice to see them in a new form.

There are a few problems with the system. Since each spell has a unique recharge time, you'll have to switch back and forth frequently during battle but equipping some spells actually changes your character's perspective and one even shares a button with the get in/out of cover command, both of which make combat more chaotic and confusing than it ought to be. Also, why is the Apparate spell introduced so late in the game and why is it only limited to Harry? It's one thing that helps to set the game apart but it's so underused it might as well not have been included.

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