"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix marks the fifth title in the series of games EA has produced for the movies. In so doing, it reaches a number of sequels that goes unrivaled by almost everyone who is not Megaman. Thankfully, EA usually manages to change the series gameplay with each release, meaning they have hits and misses across all platforms. Unfortunately in the case of the recent DS title, it's a miss. "
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix marks the fifth title in the series of games EA has produced for the movies. In so doing, it reaches a number of sequels that goes unrivaled by almost everyone who is not Megaman. Thankfully, EA usually manages to change the series gameplay with each release, meaning they have hits and misses across all platforms. Unfortunately in the case of the recent DS title, it's a miss.
Phoenix plays something like a mishmash of Resident Evil vs. Hotel Dusk Vs. Final Fantasy vs Wario Ware. You can already tell it's spreading itself to thin in deciding what it wants to be, and if you play the game you'll quickly learn it never decided. The idea is to complete specific objectives handed to you by students to progress the game. This involves mostly a lot of pointless fetch quests and poorly designed mini-games. You really only need to play the first 15 minutes of the game to realize how dull this is going to be.
The game begins with a quick tutorial on how to control Harry. This is where the first of the games major issues arrives. Phoenix utilizes pre-rendered backdrops for it's environments, which in combination with Harry's movement was a very bad idea. The lack of analog REALLY sticks out in this title, as you'll be constantly forcing Harry to move in the direction you want him to go. Diagonals just really suck. It doesn't help that the camera will skew in incredibly awkward or unexpected angles that will jerk Harry's movement in weird directions, or force you to jump between two camera angles several times before figuring out how to position yourself to move to the next segment. In one case I was actually able to float right through a pre-rendered stone wall to reach the next room. How's that for magic!?
Spells and mini-games control just as poorly. Spells require you to draw an extremely simple shape on screen (like a V), and then tap dots as they appear on screen and move around. Yes the dots might look different depending on the spell, but essentially you're playing the same boring mini-game over and over to do something as simple as push a chest (Harry is either ridiculously lazy or hasn't had exercise since he was 5). Mini-games consist of things like flinging marbles as close as you can to a hole (horrible physics included), dropping potions in a pot on prompt, erasing color out of a drawing and other small little gimmicks that are equally broken.
Combat is another huge pre-rendered snore. Wizard duels are played out in you typical turn based RPG fashion. The difference here is that each SIDE takes a turn, meaning I can cast as many spells form one wizard as I want, and never use my others. And honestly that's just fine since NO ONE is unique. Everyone has the same tiny pool of spells. And this pool never grows. They simply move up in levels of effectiveness, which are barely even noticeable. The only thing that makes one character unique to another is in the very early stages of the game where one character might have access to a spell that another does not. Really it doesn't matter though, since all spells seem to be the same despite one having the ability to Tickle (OOooo scary!) and the other to make you Stunned (No fireballs? Or lighting? How is this fighting?). Oh, did I mention these battles are all pre-determined and only happen at specific spots in the game? How about the fact you need to turn your DS on it's side like a novel to fight and then back to normal at the end? You have no idea how annoying that becomes.
OK, so so far everything in this game is broken. Surely the graphics and artwork or story must redeem SOMETHING of the game? Sadly, no. The graphics are abysmal. The pre-rendered backdrops are completely lifeless square rooms. The only area of the game with any life is the moving staircase. There is no one in the castle but yourself, ever, except for the one person you need to talk to to advance the game. Some of the backdrops are so lame and flat you actually almost cannot even tell if there are doorways or walls in some places. Without that navigational hand, you'd never get around Hogwarts. The story is just as bad. A story scene consists of maybe three random sentences with no meaning. If you haven't read the novel or seen the movie then you'll have no idea what is going on. Nothing here redeems this game at all. Even the audio will have your ears bleeding.
And that is why I'm going to stop this review here. This game is crap, and I don't need to keep re-iterating that. Not even Harry Potter fans should apply. The graphics reek of unprofessional and incomplete work, the controls are sloppy, the mini-games and spells are broken or dull, there's graphics and clipping issues, the entire castle is devoid of any life save yourself, and the story is choppy to the point where it can't even be made sense of. Ignore this piece of trash and get the home console version if you really need a Harry Potter fix. It's sad to say, but for a license based on the concept of magic, you'll find none in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Replay Value: 0/10
Community review by Dark_Mirage (March 03, 2008)
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