Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban PS2 Review

Just as the third film impresses at the box office and receives credit as ‘the best so far', the latest instalment of the video game franchise significantly improves on its predecessors.

Based upon both the book and film of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the game resembles the look and feel of the movie where possible, while filling in details from the book to ensure a longer playing time. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is an action adventure in the style of The Legend of Zelda that's targeted primarily at kids, but it is also reasonably entertaining for adult fans of the Potter series

The game offers a variation from those prior as for the first time, gamers will play as Harry's friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as well as Harry Potter himself, switching between characters anytime during the game utilizing their key attributes and skills to resolve challenges and overcome enemies. Each character has their own special abilities with

 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban PS2 Review

Harry being the only one that can do athletic things like leap across chasms or climb up ropes, Ron has the ability to spot secret doorways and other hidden things and Hermione can squeeze through small spaces that the boys can't. The characters still have access to the usually spells such as Flipendo! While other spell are specific to a particular character, e.g. Ron's Lumos which shines a light on enemies and objects.

Harry's third year at Hogwarts introduces terri fying Dementors and escaped prisoner Sirius Black, both of which contribute to an overall darker atmosphere. For those unfamiliar with the general story, Harry's third year at the school is marred by Sirius Black, the eponymous escaped prisoner, who was somehow involved in the death of Harry's parents and he is making great efforts to reach, and presumably kill young Harry as well.

The game's improved graphics, which help to add much more detail in the Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as well as the visibly older Harry, Ron, and Hermione, helps to convey some of that feeling. The graphics pose as the most significantly different aspect of the game in comparison to previous games in the series and does a good job of re-creating the school of Hogwart 's and its occupants in 3D. You'll travel to various classrooms, the dungeon, and even outside the castle itself, and all of the environments well crafted with lots of magical set pieces and other characters who are roaming around.

You'll progress through the storyline by pursuing basic quest goals that will have you attending particular classes, searching for key items, and helping out those in need. Once all your goals are completed for a given section, you'll have the option of ending the day and moving on to the next chapter or simply roaming around Hogwarts and exploring.

The games puzzles are not tricky and they are similar structured, lots of switches to throw and objects to move while the prompts give away the solutions with incessant "Does that switch do anything?" or “why not read the book?” style comments. The puzzles do however get you thinking as to which character to use in order to progress.

The characters voices are reasonable apart from Hermione, whose British twinge is almost unrecognizable, the orchestral soundtrack however is spot on when building atmosphere and adding to the Harry Potter gaming experience.

A special bonus for the PlayStation 2 version of the game is a bunch of Eye Toy mini-games, which are surprisingly entertaining. Although these have no connection to the main game they're still a lot of fun with one having you try to squish chocolate frogs and another catching the Snitch in a game of Quidditch by waving your arms around like a lunatic trying to swat at or sometimes clap at moving items.

Together with the new graphics, which are far less cartoon like than before and look close to the proper actors from the film, this is definitely the best Harry Potter game yet and is good enough to appeal even to those who don't usually like the little wizard.

By James Skelton

 

7.5 Out Of 10

 

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