IGN Preview of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
It's no secret that I wasn't a huge fan of the last Harry Potter game. I didn't have a problem with it taking the form of a third-person shooter to fit the more action-oriented, faster pace of the final novel, but I didn't enjoy the messy narrative style and imprecise mechanics.
The development team took the criticisms it received to heart, and have been working to fix some of the bigger problems Part 1 had. Here are some of the changes I'm most excited about.
Tell Me a Story
Unlike The Deathly Hallows Part 1, Part 2 will tell the final chapters of Harry Potter's epic journey in a linear way. While most people cringe at the word "linear" when it comes to games, it's a welcome addition here. The first title was cluttered with random side missions that had no real purpose, and they severely distracted from the actual storyline. It was easy to forget where you had left off.
Thankfully, those have been removed and the game will follow the movie's (not the book's) plot line much more closely. That means you won't just be playing from Mr. Potter's perspective – you'll also take part in other characters' adventures including Hermione and Seamus. Awesome.
Getting out of the line of fire in the first Deathly Hallows game was a chore. Sometimes Harry would duck behind the safety of a large boulder or wooden barricade and sometimes he wouldn't. If there was nothing to hide behind (which happened frequently), you could cast the protection charm Protego, but you were forced to stand in one place.
All of that has been altered in Part 2. Harry is much more willing to stay out of danger, and casting Protego doesn't mean you're stuck to one spot. The charm now continues as the character moves around the screen, and it's super helpful when moving from cover to cover.
Best of all, there's a new cover feature tied to Harry's ability to Apparate (what Muggles call teleporting). Stuck in the line of fire? You'll be able to get yourself out of there by Apparating into cover both in front of and behind you. It's really cool and makes the game feel like more than just a generic third-person shooter. The only trouble is it unlocks fairly late in the game, so you won't get to enjoy Apparating back and forth as much as you might like. Once you beat the game, there is an option to restart the campaign with Apparate unlocked from the get go.
Hit Me with Your Best Shot
The spell wheel in Part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will not be making a return in this summer's game. In its place, each of the three top face buttons will house two different spells. To access the second spell you'll need to double tap the appropriate button.
For example, if you want to cast Expelliarmus you'll tap once on the Square button, but if you want to use Petrificus Totalus you'll quickly hit Square twice. When I heard about this system I thought it would be irritating to use, especially during high pressure combat situations, but I got the hang of it fairly quickly. It helps that spells are unlocked gradually, so you'll naturally memorize the layouts.
Another new aspect is that when enemies cast Protego you'll need to use Expelliarmus on them to break the spell. All of the spells look and function differently, so you'll no longer be able to spam one and survive.
As I was playing, I kept forgetting that I could use lamps in the environment to my advantage. Just hit them with any spell and their flames will engulf nearby enemies, making them pretty useful when there are large groups of Death Eaters or ones hidden behind cover.
Trimming the Fat
Let's face it – the invisibility cloak missions in Part 1 weren't fun. There was a random time limit causing you to stay still for several seconds at a time and an awkward first-person perspective. The team at Bright Light decided to address this by cutting those missions out entirely. My only concern with that is the cloak missions did serve some purpose: They helped break up the monotony of constantly shooting enemies. I hope that the removal of those missions doesn't mean the game will turn into a formula of "walk into room A and kill 20 enemies, move into room B and kill 25 enemies, etc."
While the level design in its entirety remains to be seen, I'm happy to report that backtracking has been cut out of the mix.
Now unfortunately the graphics and voice acting haven't improved much – it's still the same engine and although some of the voice actors from the movie returned, most are impersonations. Still, I'm hopeful that this Potter game will right the wrongs of its predecessor. We'll have to see when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 The Videogame is released this summer.