With the recent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 in the theatre, it's not too surprising to see a game released to support it - it's happened with every previous film after all. Despite the quality of these games often being called into question, the last game, which accompanied The Half-Blood Prince, looked to be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, EA Bright Light Studio didn't take this on board and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a bitter disappointment.
Without going into too much detail, the story of the video game is almost identical to that of the film. So, if you have no knowledge of Harry Potter, you'll likely be wondering what exactly is going on at the start of the game. It's not too difficult to pick-up though, even if it all feels a little bit disconnected.
This is partially because of how the game is structured, but the cutscenes are also quite lacking in immersion. At specific points throughout the campaign Harry will have to undertake side-quests which are mandatory and have very little to do with what's actually going on. It's feels like they were put in as a way of padding out the game's poor length and the game does a very bad job of disguising this. They predominantly revolve around rescuing muggle-borns, or surviving against waves of enemies. There are a few different ones though, like escaping from a lair full of Dragons.
The game is primary a third-person shooter, although it does have some rather annoying sections where first-person is forced upon you. The controls are very basic, as you have the ability to shoot, move, use cover and use potions. You'll hardly ever use the cover system though as it's more annoying than anything due to the game's rather clunky camera. It's one of those cameras where it turns very slowly on its own, so you have to run around in circles to make it rotate faster - very annoying when there are enemies attacking you from multiple directions.
To take enemies down, Harry has a varying amount of spells, but while the game tries to influence you by saying that certain spells work better against certain enemies, there's almost no reason to use anything other than the first spell, Stupefy, which also performs a slight stun. Expulso, which fires rapidly, is also quite useful, but it is quite restrictive if the enemies decide to move around - something which they do frequently. Confringo is another favourite, because it performs a huge explosion, but if you miss you're left in a very awkward situation.
The only enemy that really requires any special treatment is the Dementor, which can only be taken down by using a defensive spell. It's quite awkward though as you have to try to run next to them and it doesn't always hit even if you're literally standing on top of them.
In an attempt to mirror the films more closely, there are also stealth sections, where Harry dons the cloak of invisibility. When this happens, the game shifts to a first-person camera and a little meter appears in the bottom-left corner. When you move, the meter decreases and it decreases more quickly if you're moving near people. If you stand still, it increases. It's all rather boring and aside from a bit of ease, coming from not having to kill everyone, it doesn't really add much to the game.
Something else that doesn't really add much to the game is the levelling system. This is used to give Harry a bit more health, to increase the power of his spells and to grant him access to more spells. Everything is automated though. There is absolutely no interaction with the system and it might as well not be there. It grants more health, but there is no health bar; it makes spells more powerful, but the enemies become more powerful as you progress so there's no real change; and spells probably could have been learnt some other way.
The game's presentation leaves quite a lot to be desired. The graphics aren't that great, although it is at least possible to easily identify all of the characters from the Harry Potter series. The various cutscenes featured throughout the game feel very lifeless and it's also reflected in the voice acting. Another annoying point is that the game's scenery is quite often reused throughout the game - especially in the side missions.
Clocking in at around 4 1/2 hours, the single player story isn't the most lengthy out there, especially if you consider the blatant filler that's sandwiched in there. The game does provide some challenges for when you finish though and it's possible to share scores online - it's not all that interesting though and it's unlikely to keep people's attention for long.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 can only be described as a bitter disappointment. It's a poorly designed third-person shooter with far too much fluff. Given the recent strides made by the developer, it's hard to see how this could have happened and it's difficult to recommend this for anyone aside from the ardent or oblivious Harry Potter fans.