Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is essentially a third person shooter that uses magic instead of bullets. Players don’t kill anyone, but instead knock them out and make them disappear with spells like “Stupefy” and “Expulso.” It is darker and more violent than previous Harry Potter games, but -- unlike the film upon which it is based -- the audience sees no wounds or blood, and there are no jump-out-of-your-seat moments of fright. However, the game’s focus is set squarely on magical violence, with players involved in extended sequences that consist of shooting, running to cover, then shooting some more. Hundreds of enemies are defeated this way throughout the game.
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What's it about?
Based on the film of the same name, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 puts players in the shoes of everyone’s favorite boy wizard as he struggles through the first half of the franchise’s final chapter. Important narrative moments are presented in brief, non-interactive cut scenes before allowing players to take control of Harry as he uses his wand to shoot spells at attacking deatheaters, dementors, doxies, and other fantastical foes. Some scenes involve a bit of stealth, with Harry hiding under his invisibility cloak, while others see him engaged in short chats with non-player characters, but he spends most of his time in battle. Xbox users with Kinect sensors will be able to engage in a few quick mini-games outside of the story mode that allow them to cast offensive and defensive spells with body movements rather than button taps.
Is it any good?
Games based on films have a reputation for being joyless, and it’s because of releases like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Not only does its third-person shooter style of play move away from the sort of experiences offered in previous Harry Potter games, which had a nice mix of puzzles, exploration, and mild action, it’s simply not very well executed. Aiming is difficult, taking cover is awkward, and the battles feel repetitious.
But the game isn’t completely devoid of creativity. Some of the environments are wonderfully authentic recreations of the film’s sets, such as the small café in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione are attacked by deatheaters and Sirius Black’s creepy, narrow townhouse. Still, these spot-on locations don’t make up for the game’s many deficits. This Harry Potter experience simply isn’t much fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this game carries the spirit of the Harry Potter books and films. Do you think it will appeal to the franchise’s broad fan base? What impact will the game’s repetitive shooting sequences have on young players?
Families can also discuss how the Harry Potter story changes according to the medium used to deliver it. What elements of these sizable books are lost as they are moved to movie theatres and video games? How is the plot altered between formats? How do the characters differ?
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