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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix game review

Electronic Arts for Xbox 360 (Gameplay may vary for DS, Game Boy Advance, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii and PC versions.)

Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older

Welcome to Harry Potter’s fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Things have changed around campus. Mean old Delores Umbridge from the Ministry of Magic has taken over the Defense Against the Dark Arts classes and isn’t teaching the students how to properly defend themselves. Snape is his nasty old self, but Dumbledore is hard to find.

THE LOWDOWN

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Graphics: 8.0

Sound: 8.0

Gameplay: 6.0

Value: 7.5

Overall Score: 7.5 out of 10.0

Pros: The game brings the book and movie to life with an amazingly accurate 3D Hogwarts, good likenesses of the actors, many original actors’ voices and situations from the book and movie.

Cons: Gameplay often feels more like a scavenger hunt on Hogwarts grounds than an adventure.

This year a lot of people think Harry is bonkers, but Harry has more important things on his mind: He needs to prepare for Lord Voldemort’s next big attack, something nobody else seems to care about.

Most of Order of the Phoenix is played out in the form of “to do” lists in an enormous and totally believable 3D rendition of Hogwarts. We’re talking big … really big.

Running from Hagrid’s hut to the greenhouses where Professor Sprout holds her herbology labs can easily take you five minutes. Throw in the Room of Requirement on the seventh floor and Snape’s dungeon, the viaduct, owlry and boathouse, and pretty soon you have a huge world.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is out on every major gaming system. There is a stripped-down version for Game Boy Advance and a visually impressive one for PSP. Wand-intensive versions for DS and Wii take advantage of the DS stylus and Wii-mote.

If you’re looking for graphic pizzazz, you can’t beat the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.

HOUSEKEEPING

Order of the Phoenix begins with you—as Harry—fighting off dementors in London, then whisks you off to the Order of the Phoenix hideout. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand what Harry was doing in London and who brought him to the untidy house where the Order does its bidding. The game lets these details—and many others—fly by.

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You must learn both combat and non-combat spells to prepare to defend the Ministry.

In the hideout, you learn basic spells by doing housekeeping. You learn spells that knock things back, pull things forward and lift things up. These spells come in handy once you land in Hogwarts, where the majority of the game is played.

Once you’re on the Hogwarts campus, your housekeeping duties aren’t over. Throughout your stay, you must fix pots, sweep leaves, mop floors, straighten tapestries, burn spider webs, hang pictures, light torches and more. You’re constantly commanded: “Harry, help Umbridge find these plants.” “Harry, find the giant in the Forbidden Forest.” Doing these chores increases your wizarding power and stocks unlockable surprises in your storage room.

Every time you reach a new level, a ghost named Moaning Myrtle appears and says something along the lines of, “There are things for you to see in our special room, Harry.” Those things include videos of interviews with the actors from the movie, movie clips and more.

In the beginning, all of that housekeeping might distract you from the game. But you soon learn that all of that housekeeping is the game. Oh, you get other tasks such as finding the 28 members of Dumbledore’s Army—Harry’s secret defense-against-the-dark-arts club—and locating the five talking gargoyles, but for the most part, you spend the game cleaning and straightening.

GETTING AROUND

The series of errands you’re sent on have you running across campus or down seven floors.


VIDEO: The game designers tried hard to make Hogwarts as accurate as possible.

The artists at Electronic Arts have recreated locations in great detail, and they look just like they do in the movies. The problem is that having gone to the trouble of creating these virtual places, they force you to see them again and again and again.

Frankly, Order of the Phoenix would be a very short game if they took the running out.

On the other hand, you never get lost. Other games are hard to navigate. With Order of the Phoenix, you not only get the Marauder’s Map to show you where to go, but you can also have the map guide you as you run. Just choose the person or place you need to go to on the map, and ghostly footprints will guide you as you run.

It’s a great touch.

All of that running back and forth would ruin most games, but in the case of Order of the Phoenix, it’s not a deal-breaker. The 3D worlds and characters are realistic and the game gives you so many new things to see and characters to meet.

BATTLING THE BADDIES

Ultimately, Harry does leave Hogwarts to enter the Ministry of Magic and face Voldemort and his Deatheater henchmen. By the time you get to this showdown, you will have learned both combat and non-combat spells. You’ll not only be able defend the Ministry, but you’ll also have the skills to clean up afterward.


VIDEO: Watch clips of some of the game’s various battles.

The battle system in Order of the Phoenix is good, but not perfect. You have offensive spells to hurt your opponent and defensive spells for deflecting attacks. The fights themselves feel more like chaos than battles.

Kudos to Electronic Arts, however, for adding simplicity to what might have been an impossibly hard fighting system. You cast spells by moving the right thumbpad in unique ways—clockwise, counter-clockwise, up-down, etc. During the heat of battle, it’s easy to get sloppy with your movements, but Order of the Phoenix is quite forgiving. It reads your spells even when you’re not exact.

That keeps things fun.

ONE FINAL NOTE

There’s a term used in gaming (originally in robotics) called “uncanny valley,” which refers to the lifeless eyes on otherwise realistic characters. You’ll see a lot of it in this game.

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Like most video games, the faces in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix can seem frozen.

The model of Harry moves like a real person and has a recognizable version of his face—and even the real voice of actor Daniel Radcliffe—but has the flat, unmoving eyes of a statue.

Likewise, Ron looks real but a bit corpse-like. Hermione and Ginny Weasley look the scariest: Their faces are accurate but frozen in a snarl.

In years to come, game consoles will be able to unfreeze character faces. But at least for now, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix does have some of the best-looking characters and sets of any game.

118 Comments on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix game review

  1. what do you do after umbrige is taken away? no tasks ,nothing . HELP!!!!

  2. the last of lunas objects are in the girls bathroom toilet in the last stall

  3. You don’t stack the benches. you put a bench near the low wall, where the you can destroy the plant with fire, then climb up until you are on the platform next to it. then cast magic to get the camera down.

  4. HOW DO YOU STACK THE BENCHES TO GET COLLINS CAMERA??? And where? i can’t get passes that part :(

  5. I JUST GOT DONE GIVING SNAPE THE POTION BUT NOW I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO SOMEONE HELP

  6. this game is exciting

  7. fineshing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix there are not that many chores to do

  8. (ok i can only hel[p out the peopple hoo need help tht have the game on the wii with controls)
    ok if you need to find the 28 people and they arnt showing up press the right arrow on your wii remote (on the cross looking think)

    ok if you need to get the bok down in the library …
    use wingardium leviosa on the table and move it by the bookshelf, climb up on the bookshelf and the book will move. repeat the process until the book lands on the largge table

  9. how do you get out of the owlry when filch is comming??? im stuck idk how to get out plzzz help me sooon

  10. plz help i’m stuck at the part where i have to find lunas stuff i found 4 in the courtyards just missing 1 item does anyone know where it is?

  11. ababababababa // June 26, 2009 at 5:09 pm // Reply

    where is the fifth gargoyle HELP PLZ !!!!! and the room of requirments i on th e seventh floor of the grand staircase

  12. harrypotter2 // June 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm // Reply

    the Half Blood Prince is coming soon!

  13. harrypotterfan // June 24, 2009 at 5:27 pm // Reply

    I know this is the wrong kind of HP game, but does anyone know to get past Filch in the Chamber of Secrets for GBA? (cricket chirping)

  14. I am on Task 28 and am very stuck! I’m in the common room for Gryfindor and there is nobody in the school except me and Neville and some other people who I can’t interact with… It doesn’t even tell me if I have a task to do eg: Find Lucy in the Library! The arrow that is usually in the bottom left hand corner is no where to be seen! If anyone knows how to find Hermione or Ron or anybody please tell me…

    I am so so so so so so stuck!

    Help greatly appreciated! X

  15. Snape Mini-Quest // May 30, 2009 at 11:06 am // Reply

    The potions section is in the restricted section; go through the left gate and move all the way down the isle. It’s the last shelf (not the one that’s on the far wall, the one just before) once you’re there, it should say “Press A”. If it doesn’t, try facing the shelf.

  16. i think a chore is picking up around the castle, like putting up the portraits and using Reparo to repair the pots…I recently found out that you can use Wingardium Leviosa to lift tapestries from the castle walls and found chess pieces behind them. Does anybody know what this does? Does it have something to do with the Room of Rewards? Myrtle is so annoying…

    WHERE IS THE POTION SECTION IN THE LIBRARY??? Somebody please help me!

  17. Tha gargoils are real hard 2 find… I still havebt found tha 5th one… where is tha potions section in tha restricted section??? I’ve looked every where and I can’t find it!!!!! Help!!!!

  18. harry potter // April 27, 2009 at 4:51 am // Reply

    where are the talking gargoyles

  19. harrypotterfreaK // April 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm // Reply

    How do you get past Hannah Abbot and the Charms level ( On Wii )

  20. The potions section is in the restricted section.It is somewhere on the last shelves.

  21. wish i had the game

  22. i think that harry’s godfather shouldn’t have died. he deserved to live

  23. i love this book

  24. I cant find the potions section in the library! Someone plz tell me…………..

  25. twinkletoes! // March 22, 2009 at 11:50 am // Reply

    How do i win the fight against lucius malfoy in the ministry of magic?

  26. how do you comlete ministry of magic level

  27. When there is nobody in room, what I need to do? There is no Hermione and no Ron.

  28. Game is awsome play on it everyday

  29. WHERE IS POTIONS SECTION IN LIBRARY?

  30. I dunno how to find Room of requiremenT…

    i Forgot where it was..

    i am just hanging around on 7th floor but It’s nt visible anywhere

  31. This is one of the clumsiest PC games I have ever played not to mention wasn’t even close to either the book or the movie. Trying to make the charector walk correctly or anything that involves the camera is a chore. No wonder they were almost giving this game away at Wal Mart.. It sux.

  32. This is the one i want.

  33. What do you do after umbridge has been attacked by centaurs? i’m stuck.

  34. wher is the first gargoyle and how can i go where is the way?

  35. where are you den toms

  36. sir i find a gargoyle how is this gargoyle

  37. the first gargoyle is in the courtyard were you meet dean. the second is in the vladuct entrance. one is in the courtyard were you helped colin creevey get his camera back. another one you can find when you go to the defence against the dark arts, is on tour right, in front of a window. and the last one ive found is on the 4h floor, you enter the brown door. and after you climb the starirs in there, there is a rock entrance which goes to a balcony. there is the 5th gargoyle.

  38. Please Can you to help me and tell me where I find the purpose of LUNE

  39. i’ ve arrived at the part where after getting caught by umbridge at the room of requirements, and after battling at hagrid’s hut with the baddies, harry’s got to put some things on some crosses on the ground. I can’t figure out how. Can anyone help me and my little son? Thanks.

  40. kary potter // April 6, 2008 at 6:41 pm // Reply

    Hi I think the game is awesome I have played but I can´t found the 5 talking gargoils well

    I think Daniel,Emma and Rupert look pretty real as the other characters well back to play.

  41. this game is ace i love harry potter and can’t wait to play the rest, i just couldnt find the last gargoyle i have 4 and have looked everywhere even my bf cudnt find it and he plays on games a lot more complicated than this x

  42. harry potter rocks!

  43. What is a chore? I have 54 of 66 done but I dont even know what I did. How do I get that school pride cup if I dont even know what a chore in this game is? Can anyone help me?

  44. boblikecheese // March 2, 2008 at 3:39 pm // Reply

    where are the five gargaoles

  45. Ninjaman55555 // January 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm // Reply

    This game makes you feel like you actually are actually Harry Potter! I guess that means his life is really boring then. This game has very fun minigames but it has barely any of them. The battling is pretty fun too but you don’t do many battles anyway. 6.5 out of 10 would be my rating for it.

  46. harrypotter07 // December 31, 2007 at 11:58 am // Reply

    i read harry potter and the deathly hollows in 2 hours its true

  47. I have been on 28 for days. I’m still at 96% looked everywhere. Finished all my lessons with outstandings and won all the games. What am I missing? Where is the herbology class or the dock? I have a ds.. Can someone help?

  48. Where are the talking gargoyles!!!

    Pleez tell me

  49. Where are the five gargoyels!! I only have three! Plz help!

  50. WHERE ARE THE GARGOYELS!! PLEASE HELP ME!

    • the first gargoyle is in the courtyard were you meet dean. the second is in the vladuct entrance. one is in the courtyard were you helped colin creevey get his camera back. another one you can find when you go to the defence against the dark arts, is on tour right, in front of a window. and the last one ive found is on the 4h floor, you enter the brown door. and after you climb the starirs in there, there is a rock entrance which goes to a balcony. there is the 5th gargoyle.

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