November 24, 2010

The Valley Was So Uncanny, It Was Magical

Today I’m going to talk about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

No, not the movie. The video game.

First off, I guess I need to justify why I have even played such an amazingly awful game. Well, the answer to that is fairly simple. Basically, I thought the idea would create a mediocre but playable experience. I have always been of the opinion that, if you’re going to make a tie-in movie game on a low budget, you might as well steal mechanics directly from other good games, so that the game will at least play decently well. Death Hollow One seemed to be doing this: it was being called Gears of Potter, and was supposed to be a third-person, cover-based shooter. That’s pretty easy to get into a passable state. I had confidence it might happen.
The other main reason is that, even though I certainly bitch about it and point out its flaws an awful lot, I really do enjoy Harry Potter. It’s kind of stupid in a lot of ways, and there are a lot of writing problems, but it’s also pretty fun, if you just go along for the ride. I’d enjoy running around shooting Death Eaters, right? Maybe?

Anyway, so I randomly put it on the top of my Gamefly, and Gamefly sent it out to me. I played it for an evening and put it down, because oh man, is it awful.

Let me explain to you the situation where I stopped. I was sneaking into the Ministry of Magic. I had to do a horrible stealth section, where I then picked up some information. Then, immediately after that, I got swarmed by death eaters and about 3 dementors. I could not defeat these guys, even on easy, because there was nowhere to take cover. I though, for a second, that maybe I was supposed to sneak past them, but every time I picked up the information, I got kicked out of my invisibility cloak and everyone was alerted to me, and every time I died, I had to redo the stealth part.

Everything that’s not shooting dudes in the game is really awful. The sneaking under the “power draining for no reason” invisibility cloak is boring at worst and frustrating at best. The “walk around and talk to people to solve puzzles” would be cool, except there aren’t puzzles, and you’re walking around in tiny hallways with only one way to go. It’s pointless and time consuming.

The shooting is, unfortunately, not much better. Wands don’t have any kickback, which makes all the spells feel really weak. Plus, they all are. Stupefy is really your only combat option. You get other spells, but they do what Stupefy does, but with more cooldown, or less accuracy. It’s really pointless to use any other offensive spell. In addition, it’s impossible to hit anything unless you “aim,” which actually just locks on to targets. However, if those targets are moving, at all, Harry can’t hit them, even when locked on. It’s ridiculous, and not the Bogart-related spell.

On top of all this, the graphics are nightmare-inducing. The characters are drowning in the uncanny valley. They’re too realistic while being too stiff. They creep the fuck out, and not in a good way. The enemies, which you might want to be creepy, are always so far away that they aren’t. It’s always Harry, Ron, and Hermione who are creeping me the fuck out.

Yeah, this game is horrible, and this experiment with licensed games is over. It was silly of me to think it would be a passable weekend distraction, I suppose. Now I know, though. Maybe Part 2 will iron out the problems, because the core idea is still fine. Shootdude in Harry Potter Land is an idea I can get behind. However, I doubt it will come together into something vaguely playable, and I probably won’t check it out to see.

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