The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
He may be successful in literature and film, but Harry Potter has needed remedial video game education for years. Failing to grasp the concepts of pacing and entertainment, Harry's previous forays into gaming have more dark blemishes than a Death Eater convention. For Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Electronic Arts hit the books and did some homework; this entry isn't making the honor roll, but it earns the franchise its first passing grade.
Instead of trying to encapsulate every facet of wizardry, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince narrows its focus to dueling, Quidditch, and potion-making. Along with exploring the Hogwarts grounds, these activities comprise the core of the game – with tons of optional collectibles to unearth. Though lacking in variety, these tasks feature some clever mechanics that function well – particularly dueling. The analog controls give spellcasting a tactile element, but the fights are far from fair; once you get the Levicorpus spell, all opponents (including the final boss) can be hilariously defeated by incapacitating them, then blasting them with a fully charged stupefy to the groin. It's an entertaining and unstoppable path to victory.
Like the last game in the series, the opportunity for Harry Potter fans to walk the halls of Hogwarts is the major draw. Unfortunately, you aren't given any meaningful interactions with the school or its students – you're just shuffled from one movie plot-point to the next, flying broomsticks and dueling along the way.
If Harry Potter took lessons from Rockstar's Bully, Hogwarts could become a great setting with vibrant characters and cool locations. Instead, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince gives you three activities to repeat constantly. Concocting potions and humiliating dark wizards is fun for a while, but once the novelty is gone, Hogwarts loses all of its magic.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I now understand why Lord Voldemort never killed Harry Potter in his sleep. Watching this spoiled brat waste away at Hogwarts is a punishment far worse than death. In this game, Harry's schoolwork, relationships, love for Quidditch, and all activities related to being the so-called ''chosen one'' are pushed to the side. For what, you might ask? Collecting worthless trinkets! This game is the mother of all collect-a-thons, showering Harry with things to snatch up with almost every step he takes. This aspect is overblown, annoying, and far from entertaining, yet ends up being the primary thing to do. Wand dueling periodically arises, but for whatever reason, Harry's spells are overpowered to the point that most foes can be vanquished with one hit. Quidditch, which has devolved into ring flying, ends up being another unwanted distraction. The enjoyable potion mixing minigame is the only area where this game harnesses any of J.K. Rowling's magic. The remainder of the game, which is largely collecting, delivers an experience akin to getting whacked in the face with the stupefy spell.