Xbox 360 Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Why so glum, Harry?

It’s no secret that I’m no Harry Potter fan, but it’s been pretty obvious that there has yet to be a game that captures the essence of the wizard. The past games have been average open-world adventures with very little to remember. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 tries to change all that by mixing up the gameplay from an open world adventure to a third-person shooter using a cover system and the odd stealth section, but does this change backfire?

The previous Harry Potter games although not brilliant, still had some enjoyable moments. This latest game on the other hand is sadly without any redeeming features and makes some of the worst choices I’ve seen this year. Deathly Hallows tries to mimic third-person shooters by having you fight Death Eaters by launching spells at them in cover or out in the open. This would be fine if the enemies were smart and posed a challenge, but they don’t. The only problem you’ll face is dreadful controls and no satisfaction from killing your enemies, I really have no idea what they were thinking with this…it just feels so wrong compared to past Potter games.

I can see the idea that they needed to shift the gameplay to make a more memorable experience, but it’s a gamble that never pays off. You’ll get more spells to cast as you progress, but you can easily get through the game using just 1 or 2. There’s also no ammo or reloading to worry about, so you can spam the trigger button with no concerns. There are some stealth sections where Harry dons the Invisibility Cloak to sneak around, but it’s never quite clear where to go. It also puts a weird visual filter on that makes the game look awful.

If you have Kinect, there are a handful of challenges to tackle…but these are nothing more than flicking your hand at the screen to cast spells on an on-rails course. It also has problems picking up the more complex ways to cast spells, which usually results in you relying on the first spell to get you through to the end. It’s weak and it hardly makes a good case for the Kinect, which is a shame because it’s capable of so much more than this mess.

Fans will like the pacing of the story, but will feel short-changed at the very short campaign that only has a few collectables and challenges to make you come back, if you really want to come back. While I’ve never been a fan, I’ve got on well with past Potter games but I was incredibly disappointed at this outing. It all feels out of place and once again, it’s a missed opportunity to bring a half-decent Potter game to consoles. The visuals are also a mixed bag, sometimes looking great and then awful. Character models are average, while the cutscenes are the only real highlight. Voice-acting is dismal and the music feels like an afterthought.

The Verdict

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 makes far too many wrong decisions for me to recommend. The cover system is awful, the AI is poor, the whole structure just doesn’t feel right and the less said about the Kinect support, the better. I can only hope that Part 2 of Deathly Hallows manages to redeem the series after this poor attempt.

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