Not all movies make good computer games. For that matter, not all movies should be made into computer games. The English Patient, Atonement and Schindler’s List come to mind immediately for being impossible to be made into games. You might add Titanic to that list, but imagine the joy of scoring quadruple bonus points for squashing Leonardo DiCaprio between the ship and the iceberg. Extra life if you can eliminate Kate Winslet at the same time. Immediate victory if you annihilate them while in flagrante delicto.
But the Harry Potter series is classic gaming fodder. You have several colourful characters, a suitably imposing bad-guy-who-shall-not-be-named, all manners of sidekicks in the form of death-eaters, shape-shifters and schoolteachers, and atmospheric locales just screaming to be rendered in glorious console 3-D.
The investment in developing the game, of course, will be repaid instantly by hordes of rabid Potter-heads, who can’t wait to help boy wonder go all Avera Kedavra on you know who’s pestilent posterior.
Then why make such a terrible game? That too, when the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie itself seems to have got rave reviews from the very beginning?
The first indication that the game is entirely low-budget is the thick manual that comes with it. The heart momentarily leapt. Thick manuals always mean vast, complicated games with mind-boggling puzzles, challenges and levels. Alas, all the directions to playing Half-Blood Prince are contained in some six pages. The rest of the manual has the same instructions in every language known to man (there has to be a way to publish a book like this and make money).
Even amateur gamers will laugh at the graphics once the game starts. Loading is terribly slow for such a light game and once it does load, the premise itself is...well...blah. The entire point of the game is to run around, winning magic cards from people, which help you win even more cards from other people, and so on and so forth. Similarities to the book are purely unintentional. There is a Quidditch sub-game, which looks as sophisticated as one of those flash banners on Web pages. The most life this game can generate is during the spell-casting contests when Potter must use his magic to defeat mortal foes, i.e., classmates (disclaimer: We tested the PS2 and PSP versions. We hear that the PS3 and PC avatars are much better. Not that this justifies anything).
But then there is more to a game than its playing. There is also the “unleash on young children to keep them quiet while you watch Rakhi Sawant” aspect. While the dust cover recommends the game only for children of 12 and older, I see no reason why you shouldn’t gift it to younger ones. If they are old enough to see death-eaters in 70mm, they are old enough to play this.
By no means a gamers’ game, Half-Blood Prince is recommended only for extreme Potter fans and exasperated parents looking to preserve familial harmony through material means.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is available for PS2 and PC (Rs999), PSP (Rs1,599), Xbox360 (Rs1,999), Wii (Rs1,999) and PS3 (Rs2,499) consoles. The game is available at Croma, Landmark, Planet M and all major retail outlets in India.