The three console versions of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for Xbox, GameCube, and PlayStation 2 are basically the same, but they differ from the PC game. While the structure of the console version is similar to the PC game (an action adventure with tasks), the gaming aspects are different and more complex.
The gaming is more complicated because players control when they switch among the three main characters (Harry, Ron, and Hermione). Players must figure out when each character’s unique capabilities should be used. Harry is best at climbing and jumping. Ron’s special talents allow him to find hidden things like secret passageways. Hermione has more spells at her disposal, and she can fit into places the bigger boys can’t.
The game’s tasks are more challenging than those found in the PC game, and less obvious in their solutions. The puzzle aspects have multiple steps; and the magical creatures are more vicious. In the PC version, you only deal with one kind of creature at a time. In the console games, you can have several types of magical creatures causing chaos at the same time. And at times, figuring out how to manage the creatures can be baffling. As a consequence, the pace of the game feels more intense.
The graphics in the console versions, while good, are not nearly as detailed as those presented on the PC. Nor do they offer the 360 degree camera views found in the PC game.
The console versions do offer extra Bonus Activities not found in the PC version. In these, players can participate in Dueling Club, race owls, and fly on a Hippogriff. With the PlayStation 2 version, kids can also unlock six separate games that utilize the Sony’s Eye Toy, a video camera that allows kid’s images to be placed in the game. Players use their hands to control these games, which include reaching for the elusive Golden Snitch in Quidditch, or clapping your hand to catch Chocolate Frogs.
The console versions of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are exciting and intense—perfect for the teenager who loves Harry Potter. However, our teen-testers, who played both the PC and console versions, found the console game could be frustrating when they spent hours searching for the way out of a room. They enjoyed both but thought the PC version was more fun.
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