The idea of putting anything less than a top-notch development team on the videogame adaptation of a Harry Potter film is unconscionable.
There's ample room with Potter lore to expand upon the works of Rowling and create something truly remarkable for her legion of digital enthusiasts. Perhaps a persistent world with RPG elements, or some kind of addictive social media plugin, there's really no shortage of platforms or variants that, with a bit of attention and talent, couldn't produce something entertaining.
Instead, Electronic Arts has entrusted developers Bright Light with the summary episode of Deathly Hallows, despite last year's successful wholesale slaughter of the franchise with the utterly fetid Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Once again, player-controlled characters have the ability to shoot spells at enemies, aligning the gameplay experience with conventional cover-based third-person shooters. By adopting this tactic, each offensive spell is transformed into nothing more magical than a mere gun. Getting ganked by a legion of spiders? No problem, break out Expulso and mow them down with the ill-deserved confidence of a Gears of War fan.
This time around, Stupefy has morphed into a kind of side-arm, and becomes less accurate with each subsequent use until such time as the spell can cool down, which is scarcely an appropriate way to make players want to use it. Confringo is a thinly-disguised rocket launcher with an annoyingly long reload duration, and Petrificus Totalus is a sniper rifle without the merciful benefit of any quantifiable accuracy. All the spells can be rotated around for use in the same wand; where an optimist might see convenience, a cynic will see an easy job for an art department.
Many other silly design decisions have burrowed their way into the final product. Hermione's baffling incompetence when casting Alohomora to open doors sets up a boring defence game where various waves of enemies must be repelled whilst she messes about with magic. Ron also falls victim to the same brain-fade; participating in such a ham-fisted combat scenario is an exercise in extreme patience.
Most of the interesting action takes place during cinematic cuts, or on a number of occasions where it's necessary to run towards the camera whilst attempting to shoot pursuing enemies. The rest of the game can almost entirely be summarised with "spam a spell until everything dies". There's almost no pause to rest either, each new environment seems to spawn virtually the same quantity of enemies as the game gradually introduces new spells with no explanation as to their origin.
Despite being far from perfect, or even necessarily good, Part 2 does actually show improvement over it's malodorous predecessor. The rampant spread of Tourette's Syndrome throughout Hogwarts has been curtailed; characters are no longer possessed with the desire to repeatedly bark each spell name, meaning combat is a much more aurally pleasing affair. Not a moment too soon either, as there's a full compliment of characters to control, from Harry, Ron and Hermione to Seamus Finnigan, Neville Longbottom and more.
In addition, animation has been improved, particularly in the lip synchronisation department. As a consequence, there's a much tighter representation of each character. Their movement around each level more closely approximates that of the actual actors, although with around four hours gaming on tap, simply watching the film still makes far more financial sense. Still, as the game pitches between the ludicrously easy and the frustratingly difficult, there's a good deal of replayability, even if it's not necessarily out of choice.
Included once more are the challenges, which simply involve repeating various sections of the game for leaderboard bragging rights. There's no multiplayer whatsoever, and consequently little reason to introduce the game disk to your console more than once. The Kinect support from Part 1 has also been removed, although as it was a pretty weak implementation this is probably a good thing.
It's hard, therefore, to see who this game is pitched at. Fans of the books will be appalled at the lackadaisical, slipshod treatment of the lore, and film buffs will likely feel angered at liberties taken with the license. Gamers looking for a title that recaptures some of the past magic of the series will come away empty handed, and the remaining demographic who likely impulse buy Part 2 will almost certainly wish they hadn't.
Both Deathly Hallows titles are a disappointment, and it's abundantly clear that there was never enough quality content to fill two instalments from the outset. Again, the poor collusion between a game studio and official licensing channels has produced a weak platform to support such a vibrant fantasy as Harry Potter.
In an ideal world, control of the official license would be auctioned off for the highest bid to a studio desperate to make the most of it, rather than being relegated to obscurity by a publisher with bigger projects to manage. Sadly, the sun has well and truly set on Harry Potter and his chums, and as far as gaming is concerned, they've gone out with a whimper rather than a bang.