In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry returns for his fifth year of study at Hogwarts and discovers that much of the wizarding community is in denial about the teenager’s recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort, preferring to turn a blind eye to the news that Voldemort has returned. Fearing that Hogwarts’ venerable Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is lying about Voldemort’s return in order to undermine his power and take his job, the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, appoints a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher to keep watch over Dumbledore and the Hogwarts students. But Professor Dolores Umbridge’s Ministry-approved course of defensive magic leaves the young wizards woefully unprepared to defend themselves against the dark forces threatening them and the entire wizarding community, so at the prompting of his friends Hermione and Ron, Harry takes matters into his own hands. Meeting secretly with a small group of students who name themselves “Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry teaches them how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts, preparing the courageous young wizards for the extraordinary battle that lies ahead.

The graphics are very good on the PS2. The detail to attention is delightful. For example, when Harry is charging down the stairs, his cadence changes on stairs as opposed to the flat floor areas in between. The walls and floors show decent marbling details to make it authentic, many dozens (if not hundreds) of tapestries and paintings are present, and the lighting angles are pretty much spot on. Each of the characters themselves are well modeled, and there are several different models for students rather than a couple of hair dos or such.


Shading and lighting was done well and smoothly. The dark footsteps the Marauder’s Map sends you after were visible even in the dark hallways, and the lights through the windows was bright, but appropriately so. Faces and clothing were crisply drawn and flowed smoothly with the characters.

The original Hedwig’s Theme is widely recognized as the theme for the Harry Potter adventures. Appropriate licensing was obtained so that rings it as the Potter theme in the game as well. There are bits of gossip as you pass other students in the hallways, and each one gives you a personal quip if you click on him or her. It’s worth your time to talk to them all as some of this is useful later on.

Making a point to be very close to the movie, they got 22 of the actual actors to do the voice acting. Amongst those are: Harry and all the Weasley kids, Malfoy, Neville, and even Valdemort himself, Ralph Feinnes!  The bits and quips from the faculty are very brief and you almost don’t have time to notice the poor replication for Professor Dumbledore, and that is certainly not actually Gary Oldman as Sirius.


 

The controls of the PS2 aren’t quite as fun as the flick and swish of the Wii. However, in some ways this is beneficial. For as much of the work as the Wii does for you, the PS2 controller’s constraints are helpful enough. You aren’t making wide arc with your hands to cast Reparo. You just move the right-analog stick in a clockwise motion. Moving around the castle is very easy with the left-analog stick, and the occasional Square or Triangle to interface with the environment. There were some odd delays in gaining momentum or turning. I don’t know if this was intended as part of the physics model, or if it is some other computing delay. It was a bit aggravating a couple trying to get Harry to move out of a nook when I needed to be escaping. Also, there are only 4 movements on the right-analog for casting spells. Double-tap up, or double-tap down, clockwise and counter clockwise. These 4 motions cast all the spells. The game chooses which one is appropriate at the time.

I enjoyed the gameplay and did not take the many repairings of armor, sconces, and pots as janitor work. It was fun to discover new hallways that needed tidying and use magic to make it happen. There would be reprecussions to that as we’ve seen in World of Warcraft’s Blood Elves, or William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, but its a game and I enjoyed the aspect of things being easy with magic.


Morality aside, the game is an impressive feat of animation, scale, and programming in bringing the immense Hogwarts campus to the console without a loading screen. In going to a couple special sections there is a moment or two of darkness as the game pauses, but you hardly notice. The mini-games were overall a bit simple, but they do provide a nice distraction and add a little booty to the treasure room.

As a movie tie-in, you might especially enjoy this title as a way to experience the plot first hand. Even if you haven’t seen the movie yet, and are just a die-hard Harry Potter fan this game does not dismay. The game skips through things a little, and glosses over some of the dialogue, but I found this to be a good thing that didn’t give away too many spoilers. Taking into account that the story is pretty much set in place, one is given a lot of freedom to explore and many secrets to find. Furthermore, the bits that you unlock in the process give a lot of fun and intersting details about the movie from behind the scenes and lots of interviews. Followers of the movies will certainly love this.

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