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Games: ‘Half-Blood Prince’ will please Harry Potter fans

By DANIELLE L. KIRACOFE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 26, 2009

As a fan of the Harry Potter books, I’ve always wished for the chance to be a wand-waving, spell-casting, potion-making witch. So the chance to play Electronic Arts’ "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" for the Wii seemed like the closest I could ever get to doing just that.

The E10-rated action game didn’t disappoint. Players — armed with a "wand" (the Wii remote) and a nunchuck for direction — instantly jump into the movie Potterverse, with an opening at The Burrow (home of the Weasleys) with best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger at your side.

After learning a couple charms spells and how to play Quiddich, you’re off to school on the Hogwarts Express and hiking up the hill with good friend Luna Lovegood.

As the game progresses through the school year, you — mostly as Harry Potter — learn more charms and combat spells. The latter spells come from duels — some in clubs, some impromptu (and no, you do not have Avada Kadavra to use against Slytherin and plotter Draco Malfoy). I really loved getting to flick the Wii remote to cast a fireball or the Stupefy spell at my opponent.

Another really helpful trick is Nearly Headless Nick, who appears on request and will lead you to your destination. It’s great because it would be pretty challenging to remember the castle’s layout. It also gives you the chance to check out the castle, which looks exactly like the movie set.

However, for every fun moment, there’s a "follow so-and-so to this destination" and some occasionally tedious potion making. The walking gives you a chance to collect Hogwarts crests, which unlock bonuses and bonus material, but that’s also pretty tedious and sometimes distracting.

Also, you’ll get interrupted by exposition scenes, including an amusing one with Slughorn and Ron.

The graphics are pretty good — be careful while you make potions, though, because some of the directions are difficult to see — and the music is fantastic.

The play is fairly realistic except for two things. Your Wii remote isn’t always Harry’s wand. It sometimes will create a purple dot on the screen to help you pick up items and play Quiddich. Also, I found that some combat spells were confused. To cast Expelliarmus, you have to flick the remote and the nunchuck at the same time, but sometimes, I would get Protego instead.

On the whole, I really enjoyed playing the game. I got to be a witch for a few hours — which, for this fan of Harry Potter, is pretty cool. Enchanting!

Platforms: Wii (tested), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PC
On the Web: www.harrypotter.ea.com


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