You become Harry as he helps Dumbledore retrieve memories about a young Tom Riddle, learn new potions, play Quidditch (a flying game played on broomsticks), duel other students in dueling clubs, and fight the evil Death Eaters by using magic. Most of the game is spent accomplishing tasks, some as simple as traveling to a different part of the castle to do something or retrieve an object, while others involve solving puzzles presented by different physical environments.
As with the previous Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix game, this game provides you with the ability to openly explore the breathtakingly spectacular Hogwarts castle and grounds. While exploring this medieval playground, the story unfolds as you accomplish the tasks. In between various challenges, like learning new potions and practicing your magical abilities during dueling matches, the plot is revealed in short video sequences.
However, this is a complex story; so if you have never read the book or seen the movie, you might not completely understand what is going on. As presented in the game, the story feels compacted, and at times, somewhat disjointed. One minute you are flying in the air in a Quidditch match, and the next you are sauntering down the halls of Hogwarts.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Electronic Arts streamlined the gameplay. Unlike the previous game, where you could get frustrated by all the walking around following footprints on the floor, the navigation here is easy. Nearly Headless Nick, a resident ghost, can always be summoned to lead you to where you need to go. Plus the passwords to use with the portraits to activate the shortcuts through castle are introduced early on.
While the variety of tasks seems small and most are pretty easy, this is a fun game to play, especially for wizard wannabees. The detail in the castle is amazing to behold. Staircases move, pictures animate and talk to you and, as you explore, you can find 150 hidden crests that unlock new content and bonus material. Thanks to the use of body scanning, the characters in the game really do look like their counterparts in the movie; and, for the first time in a Harry Potter game, their faces show emotion.
The game does a good job of incorporating dueling, potion-making, and broomstick-flying into the storyline. In addition, you can join clubs to further perfect these skills; and you can unlock two-player dueling.
Playing this game on the Wii makes casting magic spells exciting. With a flick of your wrist, you can make objects rise. And when in combat, by thrusting both the Wii Remote and the nunchuk forward towards the screen, you can send a powerful Expelliarmus spell which will knock your opponent to the ground. These spells work better than in the last Harry Potter game, so that you win duels and defeat opponents in battles more easily. It also helps that Harry can now move while casting.
You will also practice and play a lot of Quidditch, something most fans greatly enjoy. Since this is the sixth Harry Potter game, Electronic Arts has had a lot of opportunity to hone what works when having players fly on broomsticks. This time around, the flying is more visually satisfying, while being easier to perform. You simply point the Wii Remote to fly through stars outlined in the sky.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a good game for fans of Harry Potter – it is not a game for hardcore gamers. It creates easy gameplay for kids and casual gamers. Fans will appreciate the original voice talent of many of the actors from the movie including Rupert Grint as Ron and Bonnie Wright as Ginny. They will love the musical score. And once they have finished the game, they will relish the ability to keep playing in an "Endless Day" mode so that they can explore every nook and cranny of the castle and collect all the crests.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.