Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Xbox 360
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Here we have the first half of the final Harry Potter story. I have to be honest and confess right at the top of this review that currently I don't have access to a Kinect sensor and with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 making use of it for various challenges, this is probably not going to be a definitive review of the game, although it should be noted that you don't need a Kinect sensor in order to play the game. What you will need however is a strong love for all things Harry Potter and a lot of patience to put up with the game's various problems.
I've always believed that games, even those that are based on movies should do a good job of telling a story. The developers should never make the assumption that those playing the game already know the storyline and will fill in the gaping holes that they leave in the storyline. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 makes a horrible job of delivering a storyline. In fact the game feels as though you're simply skipping from one event to the next and there is hardly any storyline present to thread these events together. If you’ve seen the movies or read the books I daresay it will all seem logical but if you haven’t you’ll find the lack of storyline to be a major source of annoyance.
What surprised me most about Deathly Hallows Part 1 is how the game is essentially a cover-based shooter. Harry, Ron and Hermione face hordes of enemies such as Death Eaters and Snatchers in a variety of situations and this replaces the puzzles and exploration elements you had in previous games. This wouldn't be so bad if the combat wasn't just plain awful. The cover system is flawed and I often found myself just not bothering with it. The aiming system doesn’t seem to work well when using cover so this hardly encourages you to use it. In the later stages of the game using cover isn't much of an option anyway as there are very few opportunities to be able to take cover. Harry will unlock a variety of spells as he levels-up during the course of the game but you'll find yourself sticking with the ones that can be cast quickly as these are often more beneficial.
To make matters worse there are challenges which rely on combat that you have to complete in order to progress in the game and these are a source of annoyance. Some of these challenges require you to use stealth as Harry has an invisible cloak. The cloak's invisibility only lasts a short while however, so you effectively have a time limit to complete the challenge. These stealth challenges, which are played from a first person perspective, are actually quite tedious and don't really fit in with the flow of the rest of the game. There are a collection of challenges to play outside of the main game but they simply aren't entertaining and are worth nothing more than a cursory glance.
Graphically speaking, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 doesn't look bad but it's a long way from pushing the capabilities of the Xbox 360. The character likenesses for the most part are not as good as they could have been. The quality of the animations is a real mixed bag with some being OK and others being poor. The camera can be a real pain at times and makes the cover-based shooting aspects of the game much more cumbersome than they should be.
Subtitles are disabled by default. Subtitles are displayed using bold white text ( with most of the backgrounds being dark) which is easy on the eyes. There are no speaker names or portraits to accompany the text however and at times it's impossible to understand who is saying what which can be annoying. The use of a gauge to show you how long you have left before the effects of your invisibility cloak wears off is certainly welcome. You can press the start button to access the Mission Log which will remind you of what needs to be done. On the whole there are no real problems for deaf gamers.
Out of all the Harry Potter games I've played this is by far the worst. The game does a lousy job of telling its story, the change to a Harry Potter style shooter is regrettable and graphically it could have been much better. In short the game is one that should only be considered by those who are extremely dedicated to the Harry Potter franchise and who are willing to overlook the game's many problems.