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 especially for the Wii. The animation is fluid and detailed. 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.
In a couple places the lighting/shading is a little odd. One of the hallways was insanely bright, and a couple places were so dark I could hardly see where I was going. When casting your spells the arms move in real time which was a little weird because your forearm looks like some kind of noodle. However, it does help you with the casting because the motions do count.
The Wii’s graphics will not match up with the 360, ps3, or even a mid-level PC, but they do the job admirably with this one. The PS2 version is a tad sharper even, but you’re hardly playing the Wii for its strong graphics, are you.
There’s not a whole lot of music in the game. There is the unmistakable horn section Hedwig’s Theme that rings as the Potter theme throughout, but the game is quite silent. 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.
There’s a lot of dead air early in the game, but sound effects of objects are pretty good, and some of the actors are superb, while some are less than accurate but not horrific. The music, when present is direct from the movie and was played by a real orchestra.
Given the power of the Wii-mote, there could have been a little more to the system. The free-nature of the control system works with you in many ways so as to not drive you insane with unnecessary precision. Such is the nature of magic it would seem. A simple click on the B-button and your wand is out with a default target locked on. A quick pull up and it might draw the object to you, or a shove away and the object gains some distance from your stance. If you bring the Wiimote and the Nunchuk up at the same time, you may cast the Alohomora spell to pick something up and place it somewhere useful. It’s not just for opening locks after all. The problem is that there are really only these four motions that control the spells.
Wandering the grounds is almost a tad tedious with the Nunchuk’s thumbstick, and holding down the Z-button to run. Occasionally you outrun the footprints that are supposed to be leading you onward, and sometimes you just cannot see them in the dark. However, the corners are forgiving, and there are some parts where they do a cut-scene rather than force you to trek across the campus again and again. The place is huge, but there are no tedious loading screens to hold you back.
Strolling down the hallways has its perks. Take the opportunity to repair the occasional stonework, or light the sconce aflame. Put some pictures back on the wall and discover a new house ghost. The reparo spell gets a lot of use and it can sometimes take a lot of swinging of arms before the object is fixed. The Marauder’s Map is used with a quick tap of the ‘-‘ key and you can follow its magical footprints on your way to your destination. Yes, these are the footprints I’ve mentioned tend to lag or dissappear in the shadows from time to time above.
There are three difficulty settings and I went with the Normal setting. I might have missed some of the finer details, but I did uncover quite a few bits of fun. There are the occasional mini-games which involve reflexes and memory to distract you from the plot if only for a while. There is a heck of a lot to cover, and after several hours I’m not even halfway through the game.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.