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Video Game of the Week – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Of all the video games franchises that are derived from major movies, the Harry Potter series has been one of the biggest disappointments. That, of course, is because the expectations are so high. As the big screen special effects become more dazzling with each movie release, it becomes harder for the animated version of Harry to keep up.

Much like the latest movie with the same name, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is full of dark and foreboding images. The action takes place far away from Hogwarts, with Harry, Ron and Hermione heading into the cold, wet English countryside to track down and destroy the remaining parts of Voldemort’s soul. Again, the game waste’s little time defining the relationships between the main characters, operating on the safe assumption that by now you should be familiar with the Harry Potter storyline.

However, the gameplay itself is fun. You control Harry from an over-the-shoulder perspective and most of the combat is fast and free-flowing. Instead of bullets, Harry “shoots” spells, with the intensity of each spell increasing as Harry defeats enemies and survives oncoming attacks. At various points you are presented with certain challenges, which have little to do with the storyline but which provide additional tests of skill.

At any time during the game, you can get Harry to don his “cloak of invisibility”, which will switch you from third-person to first-person mode. It’s a neat trick, giving you the feeling of being under the cloak with Harry, complete with slow, searching camera angles and frightened breathing.

Outside of the main game, there is also a Challenge mode, which allows you to compete against a friend or rank yourself against online leaderboards. There is also a Kinect mode for the new Xbox 360 motion sensor, which includes 12 separate single-player and 10 multi-player challenges.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
makes no attempt to mimic what happens on the big screen, wisely leaving the complex story-telling and outrageous special effects to the multiplex. Instead, what you get is an action-packed and enjoyable shooter game, with the added bonus of helping out familiar and much-loved characters.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is rated “T” for Teen (for fantasy violence) by the ESRB. Check out the ESRB video game ratings and content descriptors at ESRB.org

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, Nintendo DS
Genre: Fantasy Shooter
RRP: $29.95 (Windows and Nintendo DS); $49.95 (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3)
Release Date: November 16, 2010
ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen

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