Wii Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

More like the Half-Baked Prince…

Now if you have read my reviews over the years, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of Harry Potter. Yet, I put those feelings aside when I have to review a game based on the franchise. I was handed 2 versions to review this year both for Wii and DS. The DS review will go live tomorrow, so for now let’s focus on the Wii version…
For fans of Harry Potter who want to know what to expect from the story in the game, here’s a quick summary:

Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort’s defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information.

Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry finds himself more and more drawn to Ginny, but so is Dean Thomas. And Lavender Brown has decided that Ron is the one for her, only she hadn’t counted on Romilda Vane’s chocolates! And then there’s Hermione, simmering with jealousy but determined not to show her feelings.

As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

Return to Hogwarts to help Harry survive his sixth year. You will have a chance to engage in exciting wizard duels, mix magical ingredients in Potions class and take to the air as the Seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. You may even get sidetracked by Ron’s romantic entanglements as you journey towards a dramatic climax and discover the identity of the Half-Blood Prince.

Now I have no idea what all that means, despite having played the games over the years…a lot of the details go straight over my head, but I’m sure fans will understand what it all adds upto.

The Wii version of Half-Blood Prince doesn’t offer MotionPlus support, which is a bit disappointing but not unexpected. I just thought it would make a great addition to gameplay by turning the remote into a proper wand with accuracy instead of just flicking the remote in a certain direction to pull off a spell. But the remote also serves as a pointer and to guide your broomstick for races and Quidditch. There’s also a spell mode which uses the remote well.
I guess the main thing about Half-Blood Prince is that the Wii version seems to offer great control, which I believe is better than shinier visuals, which the game lacks. But the game does have a few problems, mainly the lack of content. The game is over quite quickly and afterwards, there’s little reason to go through it again. Yes, there are plenty of collectables to hunt down…but they are unfortunately meaningless to gamers. The truth is that there are only 3 main things to do in Half-Blood Prince…fly around on-rails sections, dual with magic wands and mix potions. No matter how good these components are, they become old quickly and are repeated way too often. It’s only a matter of time before you get sick of doing the same thing over and over. Combat is also incredibly easy thanks to waggle control that offers no challenge and is easy to exploit so you don’t even have to learn advanced spells to beat your opponent. It’s just painful to watch and even worse to play.

Another bad thing to watch out for is presentation. Cutscenes are awful to watch, voice-acting is bad and the script for the characters is hardly groundbreaking. Ultimately, it’s a disappointing package for fans and newcomers alike.

The Verdict

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a disappointing effort that sadly makes the series take a step back. I enjoyed the last game, despite my own opinion of the series itself. The team seem to have made the game laughably easy while making some dumb choices over gameplay that will bite them in the backside. If you are a Potter fan, just wait for the film instead.