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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.7
Graphics 8.8
Sound 9.0
Value 8.7
Distributor: EA
Review Date:
July 2007
Tyrone Williams


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Once again J.K. Rowling's world comes alive in EA's latest adventure game epic entitled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which follows the freshly released movie of this amazing series. Amazingly enough, EA have used actual blueprints from the movie to recreate all the wonders of this amazing universe that not only features the actual scenes from the movie but even some of the original cast and authentic motion picture soundtrack for a totally thrilling and enjoyable experience.

Order of the Phoenix closely follows the movie, chronicling Harry's fifth year at the wizard academy. Fresh off his butt kicking at the hands of Lord Voldemort, Potter gets in trouble for using magic in the presence of a muggle. Even worse, almost everyone at Hogwarts refuses to believe his story about Voldemort, and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge appoints a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge, that leaves her students woefully unprepared to face the enemy. Harry and his two best friends, Ron and Hermione, go above the instructors and form Dumbledore's Army, a collection of students committed to protecting Hogwarts at all costs.

Much of the game revolves around recruiting these 28 students as well as completing other tasks, outlined in Harry's Marauder's Map, accessed by pressing Select. EA saves gamers some time (and lots of frustration) by allowing them to activate quests and following magic footsteps, which always point in the desired direction. This proves especially important, since players can ignore the map and instead focus on the game's excellent visuals.

As for the rest of the game, while it involves a lot of at times stock standard fetch quests, the whole idea of exploring Hogwarts should keep players enthralled. The spell casting system proves equally intriguing, as gamers tilt the right analog stick in various directions to manipulate the environment and battle rival wizards. Fortunately, the 12 spells are easy to cast. To perform Accio (pulling an object), for example, players press down twice. To cast Reparo (puts broken items back together), they rotate the stick clockwise. Other spells involve pushing objects (Depulso), smashing them (Reducto), stunning opponents (Stupefy) and disarming them (Expelliarmus).

Through experimentation, gamers use some of these spells to solve puzzles. Putting paintings back together with the levitation spell (Wingardium Leviosa), launching suits of armor into various poses with Depulso levels up Harry's magical abilities as well as unlocks bonus content, accessed in the Room of Rewards (which showcases trophies and clips featuring interviews with the film's cast).

EA attempted to make the PlayStation 3 version unique with an exclusive SIXAXIS feature. In theory, players cast spells by physically maneuvering the controller. Casting Accio, the pull spell, involves bringing the controller backwards, while Reducto asks gamers to move it left and right. A good idea, just not a practical one, thanks to the controller's unreliability. Players will push, pull and rotate the controller, only to find that it doesn't work and Harry loses a fight (EA sends him to the hospital wing rather than kill him). Thankfully, gamers can switch between the standard/motion controls while pausing the game.

EA did a remarkable job modeling Hogwarts, capturing such famous locales as the Great Hall, Hagrid's Hut, Defense Against the Dark Arts, the Boy's Dormitory and the most impressive of all, the Grand Staircase; complete with moving stairs, ghosts and talking paintings, which players may interact with. Some of the characters look weird, but for the most part, the developers captured their likenesses, especially Ron, Hermione, Harry, and the majority of the support characters. The game chugs in spots, mostly when Harry (or one of the other playable characters-secret) runs through sunlight, but for the most part, Order of the Phoenix runs smoothly. For whatever reason, however, the run button fails to work while passing through specific corridors, an obvious glitch.

Gamers will also enjoy the audio, which features a harmonious blend of popular tracks from the film, including the famous Harry Potter theme. With that being said, parts of Hogwarts lack music, forcing gamers to explore without the company of John Williams' (Jaws, Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan) epic score.

EA also deserves credit for the voice acting. While it was unable to sign Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson (Harry and Hermione, respectively) to voice their characters, it hired over twenty actors and actresses from the film, including Rupert Grint (Ron), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy); all of which do an excellent job. Their performances, combined with EA's direction produce heart warming and intense sequences, particularly the humorous ones. Ron and Hermione, for example, snap at each other just as they do in the movies, further cementing the game's authenticity.

In conclusion, Order of the Phoenix is without question EA's greatest Harry Potter and one of the best movie-based games. The combination of adventuring and the exquisite presentation delivers an authentic and impressive experience that everyone should play. Although if you don't want the latest movie spoilt, you might want to wait until you have seen it. Great stuff!


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