Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1



Unexciting fantasy shooter uses magic in place of bullets.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game shares positive themes similar to its source material, including friendship, perseverance, forgiveness, and love. However, these concepts are not explored in any depth. Plus, its persistent focus on using magic-based violence to overcome most obstacles places it at odds with the franchise’s books and films, in which the characters spend much more time solving problems with their minds and wits.

Positive role models

Our familiar heroes are the good kids they’ve always been, looking out for one another and working to save the world from the evil Lord Voldemort and his deatheaters. However, they are forced into extended violent confrontations here much more often than they are in the films or books.

Ease of play

The third-person shooter controls are familiar and simple, but aiming is clumsy, making success far from certain even on the easiest of the game’s three difficulty settings. Expect some frustration.


Players spend most of their time shooting -- and avoiding being shot by -- fantasy beings ranging from dark wizards to doxies (small flying creatures) with bursts of magic from their wands. The action feels much like that of a third-person shooter; players use a targeting reticule for guidance and can take cover behind and peak out from environmental objects. Enemies generally collapse and disappear when hit -- Harry’s spells stun, disarm, and petrify his opponents rather than kill them. It’s not nearly as scary as the film upon which it is based, but there are screams of pain and fright.

Not applicable
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This is a spinoff of the blockbuster film of the same name, which in turn was based on one of the world’s best-selling books.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Windows, Nintendo DSi
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:November 16, 2010
Genre:Third-person shooter
Topics:Magic and fantasy
ESRB rating:T for Fantasy Violence

This review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was written by

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byRustyGirl September 7, 2011

Know Your Kid

If you've enjoyed the previous Harry Potter games, I suggest renting this one before buying. In the previous games real duels were few and far between. In the DH1 game, however, there is a fight around every corner. The sense of structure and story has been lost somewhat and replaced by an almost Call of Duty style gaming experience. The game starts with the seven Harrys chase scene, where you learn to aim and cast spells while being chased by Death Eaters on brooms, and eventually Lord Voldemort. You have to stun Death Eaters, therefore making them fall from their brooms, to get past the first stage. The game is very diffcult, even on easy. So far I've had to refer to walkthroughs three times to figure out what I was supposed to do to get past a level - most of the time it's not really that straight-forward and it's easy to, say, try to fight your way out when you should be going into stealth mode, dying multiple times over an extended period of time and simply getting frustrated. You not only have to fight Death Eaters and Snatchers, but a range of other enemies - Acromantula (giant spiders) and Doxies (flying pixie-like creatures with extra arms, fur and poisonous fangs), I've found, are the easiest to fight. You'll face dragons (I must ask, why are there Hungarian Horntails in Britain? A Welsh Green would have been just fine), Dementors, Nagini, the horcrux inside the locket, and even inferi (human corpses controlled by dark magic, hardest for me to fight and also actually look like corpses). Game situations include many muggle-born rescues, ambushes on Harry, and escape from various places, each often with a large army of Death Eaters and/or Snatchers, as well as dangerous magical creatures in many cases. Some parts can be scary, and they certainly got my adrenaline pumping. However, I did find the game enjoyable.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 9 years old January 8, 2011

rent-before-buy game

appropriate for 8+ i would say but its a little hard i say rent before buy
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Teen, 13 years old Written byWriterGirl1233 May 22, 2011
Ugh this game isn't my fav HP game its hard to play the graphics are horrible waste of money....
What other families should know
Too much violence


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