Review: Harry Potter: Chamber Of Secrets
Posted 19 Jan 2003 at 03:15 by Andy
Harry Potter took the games world by storm last year, not because the games inspired by the movie were released but because they were all actually quite good. This is highly unusual in the games world where most titles of this nature are simply wrapped around a generic platformer with little thought given to the overall quality of gameplay. This game has, however, been coded by gaming veterans Eurocom who have produced some stunning titles on almost every platform in the past. Whether you've seen the movie or read the book the game should stand as an entertaining title in its own right. The question is... does it? Graphics:
Visually this latest Harry Potter outing is stunning and all the various environments have been rendered in spectacular detail. The design is well above average with areas such as the Forest huge enough to give you the impression that you really are lost miles away from anywhere. The animation is also very pleasing with fine details such as Harry's cloak swaying as he moves really helping to bring the whole game to life. If this isn't enough the developers have also implemented a subtle and ingenious use of light so that Hogwarts School looks perfectly lit during various times of day via the positioning of the shafts of light through the windows.
The music and sound effects are of incredibly high quality adding a great deal of atmosphere to the game, especially when you're creeping around at night. The orchestral score is excellent as it gradually wraps itself around the gameplay. It all helps give the player the impression that they are actually playing the movie. On another point, although none of the movie's stars lent their vocal talents to the game, the various voice artists are incredible and a number of the characters sound exactly like their on-screen counterparts. One familiar face (or voice) that does make an appearance is Stephen Fry as the narrator who, although he doesn't appear in the movie, does actually read the various audio book adaptations.
Having recently seen the movie I can tell you it follows the plot closely. You start out before term time with what can best be described as an almost seamless tutorial which allows you to get to grips with some of the new and significantly more sophisticated controls. This is achieved by challenging Harry to a number of different games, which must be completed before you move onto the next stage and Hogwarts.
Once at the school you'll notice that the game is split up into days giving a wonderful illusion that you are actually attending Hogwarts yourself. Everything is mission based and if you do ever manage to get lost a simple glance at your 'Remembrall' usually sorts this out. There are the usual tasks involving the finding of Famous Wizard Cards and attending classes to build up your magic powers but there is also an additional feature of mini-games. These are located all around the school and, although they cost to enter, success is always rewarded with a prize. As a result the Magic Beans are essential in this game, as you never know when you'll need to pay for games or have to purchase some magic related items.
Chamber of Secrets isn't all about casting spells and defeating evil, as you'll also have to do a fair bit of creeping around at night. Getting good at this is an all-important skill, as getting caught means you losing house points, which is never advisable and could jeopardize your final score. There are also some very challenging puzzles that will have you scratching your head for some time, and as they in no way resemble those featured in the movie you'll just have to work them out for yourself. Among the best sections of the game undoubtedly though are the Quidditch matches, which are now faster and far more frantic than ever. You'll really feel that you have to work for these as, not only do they last a great deal longer, but also the opposing team seem to do their best to dislodge you from your Nimbus Broomstick.
The whole thing is thoroughly enjoyable, as well as varied, and the Quidditch matches are now faster and incredibly exciting to play. It also features some devious puzzles, which should keep you going for a while, and this is before you even touch on the extensive list of secret areas. One welcome aspect is the gradual introduction of new spells and concepts and you will discover many areas initially inaccessible to you.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets along with the various sub-games should keep you entertained for some time even when you've completed all the set tasks. Like all good things, however, it must come to an end at some point though Hogwarts enthusiasts will no doubt give it a second go just to locate all the Wizards cards. Gamers lucky enough to own a Gameboy Advance and the link cable will also be treated to extra gameplay.
In an age where titles such as GTA - Vice City appear to be hogging the Number One spot all over the globe, it's refreshing that a non-violent game can be so enjoyable. There's absolutely nothing here to disturb or upset younger gamers so if you're a parent searching for a GameCube recommendation then this could be just what you're looking for.
N-Europe Final Verdict
The Chamber of Secrets manages to prove that not all movie tie-ins need be terrible.
Quite Difficult Initially
A Little Linear