From start to finish: I understand that I’m writing these last few reviews of the Harry Potter video game franchise out-of-order. I vastly preferred this game to its predecessor, Deathly Hallows Part 1, in part because this game features Hogwarts, where the previous one did not. Of course, the story for the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie doesn’t take place at Hogwarts, so it’s not as though anything has been changed that shouldn’t have been. But, that review will come later. I only mention it for the purpose of comparison. I liked this video game more than Part 1, but less than Half-Blood Prince (another review I hope to write soon), because while this game does take place in Hogwarts, it does not feature free exploration of Hogwarts castle like Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince both did, which made those two my favorite games in the series (and Goblet of Fire my least).
Length and difficulty: Those who know me should know that, when it comes to video games, I love puzzles, but I do not always like a challenge. I suppose that’s why I enjoyed the first three games so much. I never finished Goblet of Fire, because I found the battle in the graveyard with Voldemort to be too difficult, so I became frustrated, and I quit. I likewise became frustrated with Deathly Hallows, Part 1, but after a eight-month break from it, I hope to try to complete it again. I rejoiced at the “simplicity” of Part 2 compared with Part 1. Granted, for those who are not like me, there is an option to increase the difficulty, which I chose not to do. In all, it took me three hours to complete this game in one sitting, whereas it took me several sittings, amassing several hours, to get half as far with Part 1. So, yes, it’s a short game, but it’s a very enjoyable way to spend three hours!
Intro and end: In the movie, the trio get in and out of Gringotts and on their way to Hogwarts fairly quickly. This game follows the movie very closely, almost strictly, so that it begins with Voldemort stealing the wand, a glimpse of Shell Cottage, then you’re on your way to Gringotts. For a while, I thought the entire introduction of the game would be one long cut scene, but that wasn’t the case. The cut scene ends after the Thief’s Downfall. At this point, Griphook goes on ahead to the vault, and the trio have to find their own way down, giving you something to do (that is, finding the vault while avoiding or fighting the guards). Once you break out with the dragon (another cut scene), you’re in Hogsmeade (where you have to avoid the Death Eaters and find Honeydukes–the Hog’s Head actually), and then it’s the Battle of Hogwarts. I won’t go into too much detail here, at least not right now. “Nineteen years later” wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione spent more time talking to their younger children about not going to Hogwarts than to Albus about going to Hogwarts for the first time.
Spell Casting: Casting spells is different in the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 games than in the Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince games. With the Deathly Hallows games, because of the story, spells are needed more for dueling and battling enemies than they are for manipulating the world around you, such as they did in previous games. Remember Flipendo from the first game? Golly, I will miss that spell. Anyway, with the Order of the Phoenix game, I stopped playing the video games on the computer and started playing them on my new (at the time) Wii.
Either way, “Phoenix” and “Prince” used Wii remote and nunchuk “gestures” (or mouse gestures on the PC), whereas the Deathly Hallows games made more use of the Wii remote’s design as a “gun” (with the B-button as a trigger). In doing so, the Harry Potter video game series moved from an “Action Adventure” genre to a “Shooter” genre, also giving the game a rating of “Teen” versus “Everyone 10+”. I’m not saying either method is better (though I do prefer gestures), they’re just different. In this video game game, you have several spells in your arsenal, which you have to activate in order to use, but some spells have to charge before you can use them, while others are much more readily available. For example:
- Stupefy is the wizard’s “bread-and-butter”; the stunning spell. It’s rapid-fire and readily available.
- Expulso is much like a machine gun in its delivery of many spells at once. A moment’s delay between casts.
- Protego is a shield charm. It doesn’t block everything and can’t hold up indefinitely. Sometimes it’s better simply to take cover.
- Expelliarmus will break an opponent’s shield charm (Protego). Then, you can use Stupefy, Expulso, etc.
- Petrificus Totalus, the full-body bind spell, somehow became the sniper rifle of this game. This is most effective at wide range. You have to zoom in close to your opponent to use it. Because you have to zoom in every time, there is a delay between casts.
- Confringo is the grenade of this game. A much longer delay between casts for this one. Also most useful at wide range.
- Impedimenta is meant to slow things down, especially quite large things (like Giants, as McGonagall knows). Longest delay of any of these spells due to the need to focus on a target and use it at an appropriate time when the target is most vulnerable.
As I said before, you have to select a spell before you can use it, so that can also cause a delay. However, this delay is much shorter given that this game does not use the “Spell Wheel” that was featured in the previous game. In that game, you had to hold down the “+” button, which, yes, does pause the game while you choose the spell from the “Spell Wheel”. Instead, Part 2 uses a smaller selection of spells that are much more readily accessible by pressing or double-pressing arrows on the arrow pad. I don’t see why two more spells couldn’t have been added to the “up” arrow, though. The “focus” system was also much improved in this game compared with the previous game.
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about the Inventory, featured in the previous game, which involves the use of Doxycide, Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, Garroting Gas, and Exploding Potion. When playing Part 1, I found those items to be cumbersome and often useless, as I often preferred to simply use spells (Stupefy almost exclusively). This also means you don’t have to worry about picking up these (and other) items that your enemies “drop” when you defeat them either.
Collecting Rewards: As with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, “Achievements”, or Shields, from previous games, there are rewards you can collect throughout the game as well, if you can find them. If you find a Deathly Hallow’s symbol, you have collected an image of a character. If you find a little blue ball (looks like a prophecy), you have collected a bonus music track composed by James Hannigan, the composer. In the very brief three-hour run-through, I found eight characters and four music tracks, though there were several more.
Stamina/Health: In the early games, you had Chocolate Frogs and Wiggenweld Potions. In the previous game, you had any number of healing or strengthening potions (which you collected from a defeated opponent). You can especially see here how much the series changes from the beginning ten years ago to the finish now: the first books, movies, and games were so whimsical and comical, whereas the last book, movies, and games are so serious, urgent, and dark. It’s just an observation. While you had a stamina bar in the previous game, it was almost impossible to tell when you were about to die unless you kept a very close eye on it. Part 2, however, removes the stamina bar entirely, and when it appears that you are coming close to defeat while dueling an opponent, you start to see dark gray clouds around the screen (that is, your peripheral vision). At this point, you have two options: you take cover behind an object or you use Protego. Either option will increase your stamina and remove those clouds. I like that you don’t have to worry about your stamina… Instead, use your common sense. If I were physically in the game, I sure would be tired if I was dueling nonstop or getting hit continuously for several minutes, so I would want to take a break. The longer you’re not dueling, the higher your stamina.
Hiding Behind Objects: Speaking of this, as I did just a moment ago, Part 2 improved on this immensely. One of my biggest problem with Part 1 was the terrible camera position. There’s no “easy” way to hide behind objects, and when you do, the camera focuses too closely so you can’t see your opponents, whom you can’t hit while hiding anyway. Part 1 uses the “A” button to crouch behind objects, but when you use the “Z” button to focus on an opponent, you get up quickly to cast, but immediately go back into the crouching position. It’s ingenious, really.
Also, later in the game, when you gain the ability to apparate, you can crouch behind one object, then quickly apparate to a crouching position behind the next nearest object. This way, you can advance through a room while staying out of harms way.
Speaking also of staying out of harms way, one item that was used far too much in the previous game was the Invisibility Cloak. Even in the very first game, the Cloak really annoyed me. I just hate sneaking around. If I’m going to face an opponent, at least let me face that opponent face-to-face. Certainly, some levels in Part 1 would have been impossible to complete without the Cloak, but in that case, I’d rather those levels were removed. Fortunately, in Part 2, the use of the Cloak was removed altogether, which makes sense, because Harry isn’t about to sneak around during the Battle of Hogwarts.
The Score/Music: James Hannigan has done it again. While I listen to Jeremy Soule’s soundtracks much more often, I also loved James Hannigan’s new themes in Order of the Phoenix and even more in Half-Blood Prince. He truly is a compositional genius. I didn’t notice the music as much in the previous game, probably because I was so frustrated by the game itself, but I noticed, and loved, the new themes introduced in Part 2. I haven’t been able to purchase the video game soundtracks for either of the Deathly Hallows games (Half-Blood Prince is my last soundtrack), so that is why I can’t comment too much on the music. However, as I mentioned in the “Rewards” paragraph above, some extras in this game were in the form of bonus music tracks by James Hannigan. My favorites, of the four that I have found so far, are two “Wandering” themes.
The Entire Experience: In conclusion, Part 2 a major improvement over Part 1. Where Part 1 featured many “extra” challenges of finding and freeing “Muggle-borns” and other quests that were entirely unrelated to the overall plot, Part 2 was very linear. As I wrote earlier, you get in and out of Gringotts, in and out of Hogsmeade, and finally, you get into Hogwarts, where you have the opportunity to play as several different characters, taking care of several different tasks, all of which were in every case completely related to the overall plot. Neville and Seamus were given the task of blowing up the bridge, so it’s your task as Seamus to set the charges (while dueling Death Eaters along the way), and it’s your task as Neville to protect Seamus (from above on the bridge using the sniper-like Petrificus Totalus) on his way back. As Hermione, it’s your task to go with Ron down to the Chamber of Secrets, collect a basilisk fang, and destroy the Hufflepuff-Horcrux. As Harry, it’s your job to battle Death Eaters, make your way down to the Boat House, make your way out to the Forbidden Forest, and to battle Voldemort. As McGonagall, it’s your job to battle Severus Snape and the Giants. As Molly Weasley, it’s your job to battle Bellatrix Lestrange when the time comes as well. All of it is very linear. All of it is taken directly from the movie… except Molly says only “NOT MY DAUGHTER”, but not the last part.
Reminiscence: I added this category to the Order of the Phoenix game, because I noticed how references to the previous stories came up a lot in that video game. While this did not happen during the course of the Part 2 video game, it did happen after the credits rolled at the end of the game. In conclusion, I leave you with a YouTube video (taken by someone else) of the “Thanks for playing” video from after the credits: