Calling all Harry Potter fans: clear off your calendars and grab your wand – I mean your Wii remote controller – because you are about to enter Hogwarts' heaven.
The Nintendo Wii version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix puts the magic of Harry Potter into your hands as you cast your way through this magnificent video game.
There are versions of this game for Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2, the PC, and Microsoft's Xbox 360, but it is best played on the Nintendo Wii system. Because casting spells is so much a part of the gameplay, only with the Wii remote controller in your hand as your wand do you really feel a part of the game. Each spell you cast involves a different arm motion, so you look just like the Harry you see on the screen. This Wii gaming experience is so compelling that if you have been thinking about getting a Wii but haven't yet, buy it now.
While each of the past four Harry Potter games has been great, this one far exceeds those built-up expectations. It closely follows the story of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book, and is based on the movie version, which is due in theaters on July 11.
Most of the time, you play as Harry Potter; but occasionally, you become the Weasley twins, Sirius Black, and even Headmaster Dumbledore when he fights the evil Lord Voldemort. The game cleverly incorporates a series of missions (tasks) into the storyline, which is moved forward at various times by video sequences known as cutscenes. But this is not a linear game. You are free to explore the castle and grounds of Hogwarts and pick up or change tasks at will.
This is the Hogwarts the previous games made us long for. You will not be able to resist checking out its endless nooks and crannies. It is built from the blueprints of the movie set, and it is massive. The staircases move, you can talk to all students, and the portraits animate. Many of the painting are even hiding secret passageways if you can discover their passwords. You can run down to Hagrid's cottage, up to the Owlery, and everywhere in-between. And all of this is possible with no load times as you move around this enormous game. The game will also take you to other locations including Grimmauld Place and the Ministry of Magic.
The first part of the game is spent finding and helping the 28 students who signed up to take a secret class from Harry about defense against the dark arts. The group, known as Dumbledore's Army (DA), meets in the secret Room of Requirement. Only when you have assembled all 28 members of the DA can you move on in the game. Thereafter, Professor Umbridge takes over Hogwarts and tasks become secretive. You eventually fight Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic.
The game cleverly adopts Harry's Marauder's Map as a way for you to find people inside the castle and its grounds. Once you select the person or destination inside the map and then close it, when you start to walk around, black footprints appear on the floor showing you the direction to head.
Tasks may send you searching for the five talking gargoyles in the castle, using magic to repair the trophy room, or fighting a group of Slytherins in a duel. Other mini-quests involve talking to teachers, the ghosts, and the portraits. Some require you to win the popular wizard games of Wizard Chess, Gobstones, and Exploding Snap.
In addition to helping others and completing tasks, you are also seeking Discovery Points, which strengthen you ability to do magic and unlock interesting video clips about the making of the game. You earn these points by doing magic around the castle to repair broken things, light torches, or find hidden magical statues and plaques.
This beautiful game is so large that it will take days, if not weeks to finish. Even when you have reached the end of the story, you may not have completed all the mini-tasks; so it allows you to keep playing in the Endless Day mode. And you can play it all over again on a harder level.
Not only will you hear 22 of the original voices from the movie, including Rupert Grint as Ron and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, but many of the actors' heads were scanned into the game to make its animation look more real. And as you play, you hear the fully orchestrated music from the movie.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a vast, gorgeous, and superb game. It creates a powerful gaming experience by immersing kids into the world of Harry Potter. It delivers the wish that many children share: the ability to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and do magic.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.