Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

We were half-expecting a poor movie tie-in... and we were right

Let's crunch some numbers and see if you can spot the common thread between them: three, 39, 99, 24, five.

You can probably guess that the second and third set of numbers is the price of this newest edition to the Harry Potter videogame franchise. One of the others involves how many mini-games Half-Blood Prince has bubbling under its hood.

You're wrong if you guessed "24". That's the number of hours it took for the novel to sell nine million copies. No, that special number would be "three". And that's not three plus the main game.

These three components, quirky little additions to any other title, sum up the core gameplay of Mr Potter during his seventh year at Hogwarts.


Oh sure, there's a large sandbox version of the school you can run around that'll set series fans' wands all-aquiver. But you're only wandering up staircases and along ramparts to get to the next story-progression point which is - you've guessed it - one of the three mini-games.

We honestly enjoyed them to begin with. Practising Quidditch by dodging through time hoops on a predetermined path around the pitch. Racing against a tight time limit to create a potion using various ingredients in the right order and amount. Duelling with other wizards, each time learning a new spell we could cast with a wiggle of the right analog stick.

It slowly dawned on us with horror that that's all there was to the game. Sure there are scripted cut-scenes to watch, as well as running about the school and taking part in some side-quest challenges, but those challenges are those three mini-games repeated again and again.

It is not that each game is horrific. Far from it. They are just bloody monotonous after a time. We'd commend the fully-realised Hogwarts, if it hadn't already been done in last year's more robust and mission-packed Order of the Phoenix.

You might be able to guess just how the last number in the series comes into play. It's a distinctly average game from Harry, so a fittingly average mark for him as we give him a "five".

The verdict

There's more to life than magic school

  • Hogwarts is ripe for exploration
  • Story tie-in will please fans
  • Gameplay needs more variety
  • Harry runs like a GoW Berzerker
  • Quidditch is incredibly boring
Xbox 360
EA Games
EA Games
Action, Adventure