Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Overview

Do I really even need to say it? Have you read my reviews before? Then you know that with a new game based off a movie, we have to figure out whether or not this game is going to be able to get over the movie to game curse, which has been plaguing video games for over a decade. When gaming did start out there was actually some good movie to games, but now that technology is so advanced that it seems developers are just trying to hit deadlines instead of making pure quality games. EA has had their fair share of Harry Potter games in the past and it does have some success in the past, but can they take the series to the next level on the Playstation 3? Read our full review to find out!

Gameplay

I have to say that I am not the biggest Harry Potter fan around, in fact I have seen only some of the movies and only read the first chapter or so of the first book. It is just not a franchise I ever got into, however I do have a massive amount of respect for the franchise and how it has kept and only increased its following. The game from what I can tell keeps very close to the movie and since I am not well versed in the Harry Potter scene I am going to leave the story alone and just comment on how it’s portrayed, and not its accuracy. In general, the cut scenes are well made and do a great job of telling the story. As out there as this may sound I actually sort of got into this game and the game actually has inspired me to want to go see the movie, now that doesn’t happen very often.

EA with Order of the Phoenix has decided to go away with the good old linear days of old and has gone with the new fad, sandbox style. This is actually becoming more and more popular with all sorts of different genres, but surprisingly still very few games are really capable of taking advantage of this open-ended style. So the big question is does the extra power on the PS3 give EA the power it needs to take a movie game to the next level?

When I through out the term sandbox I am sure a few of you probably got a bit excited, as we all know that this can really take the franchise to new heights. However as you will see pretty quickly after getting into the game that as much as the game wants to be open ended there is still a rather linear path that you end up having to take. Just like many sandbox style games you have the main missions and the side missions, the main differences being are the length of the missions and difficulty.

One major complaint I have about the game is the environment and the manner in which it is constructed. The game takes place in Hogwarts and the area is a multi-leveled maze and it at times can be extremely challenging to navigate your way through. Many tasks in the game require you to go to a certain location, or find something, and often times the map in the game will be little help at all. Luckily there are some assistance tools that can help in your journey, but in general the system isn’t all that nicely constructed.

One of the big aspects of Order of the Phoenix is the large compilation of spells, which in general are used quite a bit throughout the experience. Luckily the game gives a good tutorial early on in the experience so you can get the hang of things. On the PS3 version of the game it does have Sixaxis capabilities and you can to use them or not. I tried both methods, and for me the Sixaxis controls are extremely hard to grasp and at times work but at others don’t seem all that effective. I felt much better off using the analog stick, which was first more accurate and secondly more entertaining to use.

In the end, Order of the Phoenix isn’t a bad game per se, but not really all that spectacular either. The game makes some nice strides in becoming an open ended experience in the Harry Potter realm. There are some nice touches like mini games that can keep you occupied in between missions, which are enjoyable. You also have a good core structure to the game, it is just unfortunate that the missions and combat couldn’t be more entertaining. The game itself is going to appeal to the Harry Potter faithfuls and to that extent the gameplay has some great elements, but not enough to get rid of the movie to game curse.

Graphics

I was mildly impressed with the game’s visuals on the Playstation 3, which definitely thrived on the character models. Harry is by far the best looking character in the graphical sense of course, as he is full of detail and looks exactly the same as the Harry Potter we know from the movies. The environments are pretty standard with some good textures and others that could have been a bit more detailed. In the end, the visuals stand up well overall but don’t think this is going to be an HD powerhouse.

Fun Factor

As mentioned at the onset of this review, I am not the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan and in fact don’t know a lot about the franchise in general. However with that being said, this game did make me more interested and did give me some insight to why this franchise has been so popular. The game works on many levels, but unfortunately much of the basics are where the game falls short. The fact that the focused more on exploration and puzzle rather than combat makes it a bit dull and less enticing. You also have to take into account the fact that the overall experience is still limited, although it does try to be a sandbox style experience.

Overall

With all of the negative that has been brought up throughout the review, I am still mildly impressed by this movie game. I am still a firm believer that had the game been given more time to formulate the overall product could have been fantastic, but we will leave that for another day. Harry Potter fans can be sure that they will not be getting suckered in by another poor movie game, as this is one of the few movie titles I actually enjoyed my time with in a long time.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.