Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire PS2 Review
Beginning 50 years prior to Harry attending Hogwarts, we hear about the Riddle family who were killed mysteriously at supper, their groundsman Frank Bryce was suspected but never convicted of this crime. Bryce hears strange noises from the Riddle house and goes to check on the disturbance, there he hears two people speaking by the names of Voldemort and Wormtail who were plotting to kill a boy named Harry Potter. Voldemort senses an intruder and kills Bryce. Flashback to the present and we see Harry Potter wake suddenly with a throbbing head and a pain in his scar… it’s just a nightmare. Harry is invited by the Weasley family to go to the Quidditch World Cup as is Hermione, there they see Ireland defeat Bulgaria, later the celebrations are halted by a sudden attack from Death Eaters who destroy everything, there is a Dark Mark in the sky and no explanation as to whom put it there… Can You Master The Magic?
Coinciding with the fourth film in the Harry Potter series, the game follows the film and takes a ‘Darker’ turn in not just the story and its undertones but also its graphical style, gone are the anime-esque stylings of the game’s main protagonists in the past games and in comes a new style, which is a realistic recreation of the cast. Looking just like their movie counterparts, Harry, Hermione and Ron look excellent as do all of the other members of the cast featured in the game. This new style has extended to all other aspects of the game now, the surroundings look darker and murkier like the Hogwarts of the movies, as you mount the higher sections of the school, you can see all around and also into the distance although you are restricted to where you can actually go it is good to know that EA have made the effort to make as immersive an environment as possible. One thing EA has changed though are the cut scenes that split each level, gone are the animated CGI moments and in come a kind of graphic novel type of story boards which are narrated to explain the events, to some this seems a nice addition. but to be honest though it makes me suspect the game was rushed to coincide with the films release. Going hand in hand with the whole ‘darker’ concept of the movies, the spells when cast are a visual treat, whether casting Aqua Eructo (a blue plume of water shot out of the tip of the wand) or Wingardum Leviosa (an orange rope-like beam that levitates creatures and objects) EA have made sure the spells really do light up the immediate surroundings and for a fairly old console, this does look very nice and pleasing to the eyes. The detail put into the enemies is also done quite well although there isn’t much variety with the enemies and they have no really individual features about them, often being respawned continuously for the sake of a task. The graphics overall are nothing special, but have character and do the function well enough. The camera is an annoyance, featuring a fixed camera view that follows the action but has no option for manual adjustment, this can really grate as you would like to be able to use the right analog stick to be able to at least scan the area… alas this feature is not included.
Being a movie license tie-in game and an EA platform movie tie-in and that, you’re forgiven for not really expecting great things. Whilst EA has moved away from the RPG lite style of the early games in the series (I played the first GBA HP game), it seems that many elements about the game were rushed in order to make that vital ‘Ship Date’ EA is so famous for.
You take control of either one of the stars of the film, Harry, Hermione and Ron or if you’re playing with 2 other friends all 3 of you can play as each of the characters, this is done by an easy and well integrated menu before each level that gives you the option to choose which character you would like to play with. If playing alone it would help to play through the game multiple times to build up each of your characters and collect all of the card abilities for each one. I was playing on my own so first I chose Harry Potter obviously and began to make my way through the levels, the computer takes control of the other two characters and helps you out on different tasks such as moving huge boulders or opening gates, in battle they are less helpful and always seem to die and respawn at least once during a longer fight. The A.I. on the computer characters is nothing to shout home about, the other two of the heroes always seem to get stuck behind scenery or on the stairs when you climb the taller towers in Hogwarts.
Now to the controls, to appeal to all ages EA has created a game which has simple to remember controls ‘X’ button casts jinx, ‘Triangle’ casts Accio (which brings items closer to you), and ‘Square’ is used for charms, nothing over the top and seemingly simple. The controls though are where the game immediately fails using only 3 buttons and one analogue stick can scream simplicity but it also reeks of ‘lazyiness’ as in implementing this seemingly easier control mechanism EA has inherently made the game much harder than it should be. I continuously found myself casting ‘Wingardium’, when in fact I was trying to cast ‘Avirox’ to disintegrate an enemy. For those that won’t understand my point here as many of you have not played the game and many have no inclination to do so, seeing as the game is aimed at children, I was trying to cast another charm on the enemy but seeing as all the charms are activated by one button it turns the whole spell casting idea into a game of trial and error… more of the error though. I feel the game would be better complimented by allowing use of the shoulder buttons to do the other charms much more effectively and easier. Another thing I was disappointed with was the camera implementation, EA in the quest to create a movie like immersion have taken the control of the camera out of the hands of the ‘player’. Think of a swinging and sweeping camera along the likes of ‘Pandemonium’ (best example I could think of) but much slower and less helpful obviously. This works to the game’s detriment, creating an often happening situation of where your character gets stuck behind an object or ‘lost’ behind a wall and as you cannot manoeuvre the camera it creates a clumsy control method which will put many off.
The actual combat won’t win any awards for innovation but is quite simple, this is done by clicking one of the face buttons to either jinx, which when pressed repeatedly stuns the enemy, or via a charm button such as wingardim leviosa to hover the enemy whilst another of your party casts a charm to get rid of the enemy. If you die in battle you will respawn this will use one of your chocolate frogs; you have 3 of these as you begin the game so be careful.
In each of the levels, you have a particular task and this goes hand in hand with the whole Tri-Wizard tournament, this has you doing the tasks from the tournament as seen in the film and read in the book, this has you soaring through the air on your broom, exploring the underwater mermaid city, and navigating through a hedge maze. Like I stated in the graphics dept. EA has done a good job with the environments and has nailed the authenticity of the places to that of the film. When you get to these stages the game does get better but you all know what is going to happen anyway, so no surprises there.
Being a movie based tie in, the sound will not lose out and it’s safe to say that the game has a very commendable voice backing from all the stars of the film, but some of the quotes are too often repeated which does annoy, nevertheless the music following as you play through the game helps the mood and creates a believable experience.
For a children’s game, it is quite surprising to say that the game isn’t necessarily short and, for the completist, it will have you going and forth to get better times on Moody’s tasks and so on and so forth, Some may even take it upon themselves to unlock and purchase every card ability for all three characters in the game. So the game could last a few weeks for some people which is surprising for a movie licensed game.
The Harry Potter universe brought to your console, we all know what happens so no surprises there but for those looking for a brilliant and truly magical trip into the world that is Harry Potter quite a few will find a lot to disappoint them from the old-school play mechanics to the poor control system, not to mention the general tediousness of some of the tasks. If you don’t mind putting out countless fires and moving countless boulders. This could be the game you have always wanted. Not to say that the game is a bad one, it does give a respectable platform experience but not a stellar one at that.
6.5 out of 10