Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part One

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part One
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part One Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, Windows
Genre Silent, terrible action
MtAMinutes to Action 1
Keep Playing? No
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Some months back, while browsing the shelves at our local GameStop, my wife picked out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One for the Nintendo DS; I had earlier warned her of the bad reviews for the Kinect-heavy atrocity of the same name that dropped on the Xbox 360, and we both assumed that the DS version would almost have to be better than that. However, she did not play for very long, returning to her staples of Animal Crossing: Wild World and The New Super Mario Bros. She either lost interest or got stuck; at one point, I had to help her through an unclear potion-making minigame.

With the final installment of the final movie creeping closer, I thought this would be a perfect time to see how solid of a Harry Potter game it actually is. Plus, I had some time to kill while on vacation.


00 – After the usual array of tie-in logos, we’re at the start screen. Two options: Continue or Start New Game. I choose to start new and am told that this will erased the previously existing saved data; sorry, Tara! Only one save slot available, I guess. Then we have more options: Start Game, an untappable Chapter Select, Multiplayer, and Potions. Time to track down some Horcruxes.

01 – The game begins with a severely truncated scene at Malfoy manor, where Snape is informing Voldemort of the plans to move Harry Potter in secret. Old snakeface says he’ll deal with the boy himself to prevent any further mishaps. The graphics are bizarre in that they are trying so very hard to look like these specific individuals and instead end up like PlayStation 1 era rejects. Now Harry is with Hagrid, and we’re off into the sky to shoot down pursuing Death Eaters. It’s an on-rails kind of thing, as well as super easy. Tap the Death Eater to fire a spell at him.

03 – We stop Voldemort from killing us and crash down at the Burrow, where the Weasleys live. Hagrid’s fall is not covered, and the scene then cuts to next morning. Harry has just woken up, and an extremely fugly Molly Weasley fills everyone in on what happened (or didn’t). A lot of plot is being cut out here: no mention of George and his missing ear, no mention of Stan, no mention of Mundugus disappearing in mid-battle. Oh, and look, the Minister of Magic is already at the kitchen table, ready to talk to the famous trio.

05 – Now back in control of Harry, and it’s a little more like The Legend of Zelda games on the DS than an on-rails shooter. Using the touchscreen and stylus, I can move Harry around the map. The controls are not exactly precise as I accidentally made Harry forward roll a few times. We’re in a wooded area near a stream, and I can only imagine that this is some place near the Burrow.

06 – Mrs. Weasley is so busy preparing for the wedding that she needs Harry's and Ron’s help in getting rid of some pixies. They are hiding somewhere on the map, and we’ll need to use Wingardium Leviosa to throw them out of the way.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Wands

07 – Tossing some junk around and collecting potion ingredients and magic points. Is this fun? Tapping on some bushes reveals pixies, and tapping on them again uses Stupefy. Is this all I’m going to do, tap on things?

08 – The wedding has begun. So far, the game has been eerily silent, but it’s only extremely noticeable during these little cutscenes. It’s strange and bizarre how soundless it is, and for a quick second there I thought my Nintendo 3DS was broken. My guess is that the developers couldn’t get the rights to the great tunes from the film and instead of coming up with their own music decided to get a few extra hours of sleep during the workweek and leave it to nothing.

09 – This is getting ridiculous. Not only is the writing atrocious, but so is the editing. We go from one shot of the trio giggling to another of Xenophilius Lovegood’s symbol to another of Death Eaters flying overhead with Shacklebolt’s chill-worthy warning of “They are coming.” This is all within fifteen seconds tops. Back in control of Harry and Ron now, and it seems the wedding grounds have been set ablaze.

11 – Brewed three Wiggenweld Potions. This is the part I helped my wife with earlier on, and it can be a bit misleading. Basically, to brew a potion, one must perform a number of different steps, such as cutting the ingredients, shaking bottles, pouring liquids, and stirring. It’s very much Cooking Mama-like, and the tricky part is sometimes you have to pour or stir to a specific point and then stop. Going too far over or stopping too soon will cause the potion to fail.

14 – Walking around the burning tents, collecting magic spell pages and a Golden Snitch, and firing at every Death Eater in my way—JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE.

15 – Found Hermione at the top of the map, and then the three of us formed a football huddle and got the you-know-what out of you-know-where. Chapter complete! My score was 5,990. No, I don’t know what that means or if it’s any good.

16 – Now in London. Time to use Harry’s Invisibility Cloak and do some sneaking.

20 – Well, that was extremely boring. Basically, for four minutes, Harry tip-toed across the map at a snail’s pace, following a breadcrumb trail of golden pick-me-ups before finally reaching the Luchino Caffe. The only other sounds besides Harry’s tip-toeing feet is the occasional owl in the background and a light whistling wind. I almost turned the game off here.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part one Spider

23 – As expected, a fight breaks out, and Ron is stunned with a spell, leaving it up to just Harry and Hermione to save their skins. Harry learns a new spell here too, one that lets him slow down time to get in more hits. This spell drains the magic points bar though. Had to use a potion to heal Harry in mid-battle, but otherwise it was more of the same: tap on your opponent until he is no longer an opponent.

24 – Off to Grimmauld Place! But first Ron must use the Deluminator to turn off streetlamps so that we can get past enemies safely. Guess that’s better than using the Invisibility Cloak all over again. Got spotted a few times still and had to fight our way through. Used more potions up as Harry likes to stand still and fire away, as do the Death Eaters. A cover system would’ve been nice.

28 – Arrived at Grimmauld Place. Ron won’t go a step further until all spiders have been cleared out of the house. Man, he’s such a complainer. Only took killing five or six spiders to please the boy, and the trio then go upstairs to find a place to rest for the night.

29 – No one slept well. Time to explore the Black house! In Sirius’ bedroom, we find a letter from Harry’s mother. It mentions Bathilda Bagshot. They also discover clues about R.A.B., and decide to find Kreacher the house-elf for questioning.

30 – In the dining room, I found another spell book page and am now able to power up a single spell. You can ultimately power up each spell three times. Right now, I have two choices: Stupefy or powering up the ability bar to make spells like Hermione’s Arresto Momento and Ron’s Deluminator last longer. I go with the attack spell. After that, we head down to the kitchen to find Kreacher, concluding our 30 minutes, and returning me back to the Muggle world.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part one Skeleton

Half-Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 1

What I liked: Not much. I guess the potion-making minigame, but only because I got really good at it after awhile; I swear I could make some of those potions with my eyes closed. All in the rhythm...

What I didn't like: Everything else? Yes, everything else. The silent cutscenes, horrible character animations, bad gameplay, lack of imagination, shoddy controls. It's a terrible game, and I'd be a terrible person to say anything praising about it, and yet this is where I stand uncertain. Having not played the Kinect version of the same game, I can't say which is better or more fun or more “Harry Potter-esque,” but I want to believe that just about anything is better than this. Even Gears of Potter or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

Story: This is where things get beyond insulting. The story is so condensed and cut up here that LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-4 tells a stronger tale, and that's without uttering a single word. They leave out important bits, and turn other sections of the plot on their heads just to insert  mindless videogame tropes. For example, at one point, Harry and Hermione go to Godric's Hollow to visit Harry's parents' graves; suddenly, they are attacked by zombies, and we must kill all undead to proceed forward. At no point did either Harry or Hermione comment on the scary fact that they might have actually been attacking Harry's dead parents. Also, there's a lot of grammatical errors and inconsistencies, only making things worse.

Gameplay: You run around a map, trying to reach a specific place, and have to fight the same ol' goons along the way. They appear predictably, and they fight just as equally guessable; later on, way past the first 30 minutes, there's more on-rails parts for a boss fight against Nagini, but other than that, it's the same thing every chapter. Cast spells at enemies, heal, make potions, move forward, and do it all over again. Nothing spectacular.

Nintendonly on the DS: It's all about the touchscreen, which would be fine if the detection was better; a majority of the time I'd be tapping on enemies only to have Harry cast a spell just shy of their feet. This shoddiness is most evident during the on-rails parts.

Fun Factor: Um...no. Avada Kedavra!

Would I keep playing? No. But here's the M. Night Shyamalan plot twist...I do. I play the game for at least another two hours. Maybe a little more. I play until Harry beats Bellatrix and escapes to Shell Cottage, until the credits roll. Until it's over...for now. See, over at my blog Grinding Down, I'm keeping track of the number of games I've completed for 2011, and I figured it wouldn't take me too much longer to finish the title up and add another kill to the pile. It never got better, I'm afraid, and everyone else not OCD over keeping lists about completed games, please do stop after 30 minutes. Heck, stop after five or three. You're better off living a boring, empty, videogame-less Muggle life any day than playing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.