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Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets Package Art
†GENRE
††Adventure
†DEVELOPER
††Eurocom
†PUBLISHER
††EA Games
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1
†CONNECTIVITY
††yes
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Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets

Unless you have been living in a cave on Mars, with your eyes closed and fingers stuck in your ears, by now you should now the phenomena that is Harry Potter. Though its one of those love-or-loath franchises, no one can deny the impact its had on the world, especially in terms of making reading "cool." Anyway, there is enough information out there on Harry Potter, so there is no point in me regurgitating what has already been said.

In my opinion, games put books for dead. From this perspective, this game has a few landmark achievements. It was the young wizards first outing on the next-generation consoles and Eurocom has done quite a job with it too. The game, loosely based upon the novel and movie of the same name is nothing ground breaking and aimed at a younger audience. However, there is enough here to keep the interest for Potter fans and gamers of all ages.

visuals

Visually the game doesnít break any barriers or boldly tread any new ground. However, it captures the magical, fantasy essence of the franchise better than anyone could probably imagine. Those familiar with the books will revel in the opportunity to wander around some surreally realised locales. Places like The Weasleyís home and Diagon Alley are close to perfect in terms of the way they are artistically realized and are full of colour, life, variety and authenticity. It shows that a lot of work has been put into this part of the game.

For the most of the game youíll be spending a lot of time within the grounds of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The way it is portrayed in the novel would make it an extremely ambitious task to recreate such an environment but it is done reasonably well. The success comes because the main areas such as the studentís common room, library, greenhouse and dungeons have been well thought out and designed and truly look the part.

Not only is the artwork authentic but inside the castle if actually feels quite alive. Itís a bit hard to explain but everywhere in the castle, it seems as if there is something going on. Sure the students may be standing around doing nothing but rogue ghosts and creatures inhabit the area as well. Together they make for what seems like a lively and likeable environment. The library is especially well done, with all the flying books fluttering about. Other similar areas of focus are equally well done. However, not everything has such a great focus of detail and artistic expression. Outside the school, the grounds are quite barren and unimpressive. Thankfully, this only plays a small part in the game.

The characters in the game are well done. Youíll be able to recognize most of the major characters pretty easily. However, everyone else is virtually the same, sans skin colour and gender. There is also an assortment of magical creatures, ranging from fire-crabs to gargoyles which are all very well presented, in conjunction with the art style and presentation.

The games menus are well thought out and intact with the games overall theme. The games cut scenes, sometimes borderline along the lifeless but in all are well done and well directed.

Despite the slightly inconsistent frame-rate and overall lack of pushing power, the visuals show that a lot of work has been done on them and they are very well realised. Overall, it is a very good representation of the world of Harry Potter.

audio

Like the visuals, the audio isnít the most spectacular that youíll hear but it gets the job done more than adequately. The game's music has been ripped straight out of the movie. Through out, there are a few tunes, mainly subdued orchestral pieces to accompany your movements. While they donít really reflect the games mood, they wonít distract you from the job at hand. Sound effects are basic but they do get the job done.

In terms of the games voice work, the character roles arenít reprised by those from the movie. However, the replacements do a damn fine job of sounding like them. All the main characters have their distinctive voices and sound almost the same as they did in the movie. This is a good thing. Unfortunately it seems a little rushed, as the voices at times seem that they donít have much emotion attached to the voices. As well as the rest of the NPCís, who have about 3 different voices between them. Meaning that you will probably run into a string of people with the same voice from time to time.

gameplay

For a game that is directed at being a kidís pacifier, itís surprisingly deep and engaging. It rips gaming mechanics out of Zelda, Metal Gear and some other top titles, but hey, if it is for the good of the game, do you mind?

As you may have guessed, youíll be controlling Harry most of the time in this game. Harry controls almost exactly like Link does in the Legend of Zelda, though obviously instead of a sword youíll have a wand. Itís pretty much the backbone of the gameplay. Without it, the game would be really damn boring.

Throughout most of the game youíll be given an objective and be forced to use your magical know-how and blatant disregard for the rules to achieve it. These objectives stem from three main sources.

The first of these is the classroom. While this may not sound like an enticing prospect, this is not your ordinary classroom. The general purpose of this source is for you to learn new spells. At the beginning of the game youíll start with the simple "flipendo" spell, which can knock things over. Later on youíll earn spells like "lumos" which can light a darkened area to reveal hidden things and "diffindo" which is used to cut tapestries. As said, most spells are earned in the classroom. To do this, your teacher will toss you down a rabbit hole in the wall, where youíll end up in a "dungeon." These dungeons are nothing compared to those in any typical Zelda game but do provide a reasonable challenge. Basically you will have to use all of your wit, talent and current spells to move from one room to another as well as ward off magical creatures and entities along the way.

The second objective source is mainly concerned with mischief. Once classes are done for the day, there will be times where youíll be required to wander out of the common room at night and go retrieve some intricate object. This could be a book that contains particular information or a specific potion. Why? Well these things are mainly there to push the story forward and keep it a bit in tune with the actual novel. Most of these missions take place outside the dungeons but they too have a similar feel, with a bit of a twist. While puzzle solving along the way is an obvious must, you will have to use a bit of stealth along the way. In true Metal Gear style, Harry gets to lean right up against the wall and peek around them at will. This is because you will need to avoid the patrols from the opposing senior students.

The third source of missions is mainly there as a bunch of subquests. In the common room there is a noticeboard with a bunch of quests where you find items that people have lost. The most redeeming part about this that it gives you a chance to fully explore the secrets of the castle. From what would have otherwise been quite a limited game, the developers have managed to put enough into the game to make exploring the castle an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. The only big problem is youíll sometimes encounter some cumbersome load screens.

Once you have earned your broom, you will be able to fly around the castle grounds, though this isnít as exciting as actually exploring the inside. Quidditch is also present in the game, though in a very limited capacity. For those who donít know what this is, itís basically a sport imagined up in the Harry Potter universe with four balls, a bunch of hoops and magical people on brooms. The only role in the game that you can assume is that of the seeker, what happens in the rest of the game really doesnít matter. Anyway, itís as simple as flying through hoops and following a golden stream until you catch a small golden ball with wings.

The game controls reasonably well, if a little loose. Based unashamedly in Zelda style, the A-button is you context sensitive, while B, X and Y are used to assign spells, while the L-button is your Lock-on. It may be simple, but it is quite effective.

It must be said that for a game aimed at kids, the gameplay has been very well constructed and thought out. So much that some tasks in the game will be way too much for the really young kids. However, this is to the benefit to the real gaming audience. Though while solid and reasonably challenging, experienced gamers will breeze through the forgiving difficulty and the fact that the whole adventure clocks only on the right side of ten hours.

Lastly, there is some connectivity business going on, but it's just some silly mini-game and benefits that mainly relate to the GBA version.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

If you're a Harry Potter fan, this game is for you. If you're a gamer as well, that's even better. Eurocom have almost done the impossible: They have made a movie/novel based game actually good. The game exudes effort and it really shows. Sure it may not blow you away technically; the gameplay is way off revolutionary and it doesnít have the same polish and refinement as really big titles, but that doesnít mean that you wonít have fun with this game. Even someone who isnít a fan of the Potter series will find something here that captures's their interest. If only all franchise games could be made like this!

final score 7.9/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Jeremy Jastrzab
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"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer."


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