Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (Wii) - Review by Chris
One of the biggest film franchises of all time, and one of the most heavily marketed across of a plethora of mediums, sadly comes to an end this year with the final instalment of Harry Potter having hit cinema screens this summer to the eyes of millions of cinema-goers the world over. Of course, coming alongside that is the last game from EA to tie in with the movies and put a closer on one of the most beloved characters ever created. Can this last game send out the franchise with a bang, just as the movie did, or does it all end with a whimper?
Deathly Hallows: Part 1 saw a change to the formula for the Harry Potter games, foregoing the exploration and puzzles and taking on a much more action orientated setup to parallel the events which were transpiring in the film. That same formula carries over here, with the game continuing its expedition into the realms of the third person shooter, with guns and bullets being replaced by wands and trusty spells. The biggest gripe with this, however, is how poorly this was pulled off last time, with the game trying to juggle to the action elements and some infuriating first person stealth sections which just didn't work. They've completely done away with the latter this time around leaving that same third person gameplay, with very little in the way of tweaks to make it more appealing than it was in the previous game. As such, things run rather ragged from the get go with little to cushion the boredom which arrives from playing through the game.
Chronicling the events of the movie, with a few liberties taken so as to bring even more over the top action to the game (such as blowing up a bridge), you'll not only take to the shoes of Harry this time but a selection of other characters, such as Professor Mcgonagall, Ginny Weasley and Seamus Finnigan, as you seek to put a stop to Lord Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters in the Battle of Hogwarts and beyond. Obviously, the story is distinctly based around Harry but these scant instances where you get to see the events unfold from the perspective of the other characters adds to the game and provides the only genuinely interesting moments in the game. But these moments really are short lived and you'll soon be back to the main crux of the gameplay: the third person shooting.
Borrowing the cover based shooting system seen in just about every third person game coming to market these days, you'll snap to cover when confronted with enemies and pop out now and again to fire off single shot or, once you unlock it through progression, rapid fire spells to take them down. Occasionally, you'll have to dispel some protection spells on enemies before you can land any damage but that is the only time where you'll see any noticeable change to the proceedings, and even then it's a very small deviation from what you'll be doing for the vast majority of the game. It's mired in tedium, with no real strategy needed, and the poor ally AI, which will often bump you out of cover, does little to help move the game along or make it feel like the actual story.
If you can persist through the drudge, you'll be shocked by how quickly the game is over. Only just outstretching the film, you'll see the credits at around the 3 to 4 hour mark making it the shortest game in the franchise to date. The option to replay levels as time challenges or play the story on a higher difficulty are your only post game content options and considering how poor the game plays the first time through, many, if not all, will pass up on the opportunity to take another stab at the levels.
Controls remain largely unchanged over the setup used in the previous game. You'll still make use of the Wii-mote for turning, aiming and shooting enemies, with the d-pad handling your spell changes, and the Nunchuk covering your movement. But you'll also get the same issues, such as some less than perfect IR controls for aiming and turning, which don't give you as much accuracy as you'd like as well as being a little on the slow side, and a level of twitchiness to the movement which should have been refined from the previous game's effort. It's definitely serviceable, despite the persistence of the issues, and gamers of all ages will find it relatively easy to pick up and get used to the controls.
The same visual engine employed in the first part of Deathly Hallows returns for use in this game and as such, you'll have to take the good with the bad once again as very few of the issues have been ironed out. On the whole, the game looks good and capably recreates locations from the films, albeit with some muddy textures adorning the scenery and a little less detail. Character models follow a similar suit, recreating their real life counterparts almost perfectly, with a few allowances having to be made for the lesser horsepower under the hood of the Wii such as a lack of detail in some areas and some jerky animation at times.
As with the first part, the screen is filled with effects from all the spells being fired off and as such, trying to render both the locations and effects does result in some instances of a choppy frame rate especially when things get heated. It's disappointing that this particularly hasn't been ironed out since the last game, as it was one of the most glaring issues, and does the most to pull you out of the experience. Bookending the visual presentation are the pre-rendered cutscenes used as the main story telling devices. The issue with these, however, are that the quality issues remain from the last game and that they contain many of the more interesting aspects of the story which would have helped in alleviating some of the repetition which comes from the cover based shooter mechanics at play.
As expected, much of the score crosses over from the movie to the game so fans who've come to love the grandiose tunes punctuating much of the action in the film will revel in hearing it all again as they make their way through the game, with it sounding pitch perfect. Voice work from the actors and actresses is also included, furthering the immersion feeling, and this is of an equally good quality to the music. Sound effects, though, still have a tendency to irritate, even with the shorter playtime this time around, and similarly certain sound clips, such as calling out spells when casting, can grate when trying to concentrate in the heat of battle.
Unable to match the magnitude of the film that it is accompanying, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a needlessly repetitive tie-in that, while managing to capture some aspects of the license it is based on, squanders the chance to put a fitting cap on one of the biggest film franchises of all time by utilising dated mechanics and bringing very little in the way of enjoyable content to the table with a paltry 3 to 4 hours of play time. Even for fans of the franchise it's hard to recommend the game. Stick to the films instead if you need your Harry Potter fix, they'll satiate your cravings more than this ever will.
Pro: Continues to capture the look and sound of the films well, a handful of genuinely fun moments in the story
Con: Dull and repetitive gameplay, very short run time, no additional content besides the main story, same visual and control issues persist
Final score: 4
|Developer:||EA Bright Light|