Publisher: EA Games
Publisher 2: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: EA UK
N Amer - 06/26/2007
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Review
It is Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts and “He-who-must-not-be-named” is up to even more devilish mayhem that involves a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor (beguiled into treating Harry like a pariah) and more trouble than you can shake a want at.
EA (in concert with Warner Brothers) offers a solid visual treat with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the game based on the movie, which is based on the J.K. Rowling novel. The war against the evil wizarding forces is heating up and Harry’s adventures involve having him coordinate a student resistance force, teaching them beyond the prying eyes of the teachers – and especially Prof. Umbridge – and exploring Hogwarts while run a series of quests.
Do not expect this to be a game that carries on the aspects of playing Quidditch or tries to snarl the gamer in a listless HUD and minigames that seem only to be there to make the game experience last a bit longer. No, this is about the book/movie, about Hogwarts and about immersing the gamer into the story.
To that end, the graphics are stellar and capture the looks of the movie counterparts very well. The voices, though, are a bit of a hit and miss. Harry sounds like Daniel Radcliffe – at times, while Sirius sounds like James Mason and Professor McGonagall is voiced by someone other than venerable veteran actress Maggie Smith. That is a bit of a letdown, actually. Through four other movies, these voices have been ingrained with the visuals and to have them use other voices is cause for a pause. But get over it, and move along, there is lots to like about this game.
Using the D-pad and right thumbstick will teach you various spells. Don’t worry that you have to memorize intricate movements. Things are kept simple and reminders are there to assist you when the action heats up. And heats up, it does. Before you know it, you will be dueling with Slytherins and other students during your DA meeting lessons.
The combat, though it seems to be frequent in this game (which lasts about 10-15 hours), is a bit repetitious. But remember, there is no user interface (heads-up display), meaning no health bar. You have to watch the game to determine how effective your spell casting is. If you are doing damage, or taking it, the characters on the screen will react. Defeat means being sprawled face down on the ground. You can also use SIXAXIS controls to cast instead of the thumbstick, but that does not seem quick as quick or accurate as when using the right thumbstick.
One of the complaints younger players of the game had, and it was noted by this reviewer, is that the camera can be less than cooperative at times. Two girls, ages 11 and 12, gave this game a whirl and were completely immersed in the story and the way the game played out. The lack of the user interface, or using the thumbstick to cast spells, was not a problem at all.
Still, the Order of the Phoenix is a nice little romp through Hogwarts. And while the characters are good, the school itself is one of the major stars/players in this title. Not only does the game drive along the pathway of the novel, but it throws in some little tidbits that add a certain charm and character to the game. Little things like helping Neville with a “weedy” problem provides some entertainment value, and maybe a bit of a smile.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is not a game that will draw in newcomers to the Potter series, but is a definite step up from previous iterations in the franchise. The graphics are very well done, and – despite the different voices – the sound is solid. This is a game that will delight fans of the books and movies and should bridge age groups as well.
Review Scoring Details for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
No user interface creates a bit of a different feel to the game. The flow, though, is very nice and the game uses the school as a sandbox game mechanic, letting players move through the quests at their own pace.
A few glitches here and there, but generally this is a very attractive game.
There is some repetitive lines of dialogue, and the music can be a little loud, but generally the sound is a nice adjunct to the visuals.
The game tries to immerse players in the environment of Hogwarts and does a good job of that. It feels true to the novel and film trailers.
One of the better releases in the Harry Potter video-game franchise. This is definitely a game that will appeal to Potter fans. The game has a few small problems but is generally an entertaining experience that will appeal to younger as well as older players.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has a few faults, but is otherwise a solid gaming experience
Reviewer: Michael Lafferty
Review Date: 06/29/2007