Even the spells on offer quickly feel restrictive. There are six offensive spells, from simple Stupefy all the way up to the lock-and-fire magical rockets of Impedimenta, and Protego as a surrogate (and not very effective) shield. Each has its uses - shattering enemy protection, for example - but it ignores all the other spells that have been introduced throughout the series in favour of ones that most resemble magic bullets. Why can't we levitate objects and use those to deflect attacks or hurl at enemies? Why can't we turn invisible to flank enemies? This is a wizarding game with precious little magic.
Breaking up the corridor shooting are a mini-boss battle against a giant (which rewards relentless attack spamming over any real strategy) and some clumsy chase sequences in which characters run towards the screen, away from an ephemeral pursuer. These are especially difficult to gauge as sometimes you can be caught within seconds while at other times you'll put a lot of ground between you, only for it to catch up immediately. It's all very vague, and getting through these sections requires patience and luck, two things that have no place in a well-designed game, especially one for kids.
What really sinks the experience is how thin it all feels. This is the final battle, the culmination of 10 years of adventures drawn from seven doorstop books and eight lengthy movies, and yet by boiling it all down to duck-shoot-shoot the scale is lost. Vital character moments are tossed aside in brief cut-scenes, if they're mentioned at all, while the world itself remains completely unexplored. The previous games certainly had their faults, but at least they gave fans the chance to do what they really want to do: explore Hogwarts and live in that world, if only for a brief time. Now that world is actually threatened and changed in interesting ways, the game responds by closing everything off.
Beyond the obvious on-screen action, there's literally nothing else to do. There are smattering of obligatory collectables, but these only unlock static character models and isolated music tracks to be accessed from the main menu. Neither are the sort of gift that will appeal to fans, adult or child.
There are Challenge Stages, but these are simply the story mode levels replayed again with a time trial mechanism dropped on top. There are no secrets, no surprises and there's no reason to slug through the mayhem more than once. There's not even a co-op mode, a bizarre omission considering it's a feature intrinsically linked to the sort of third-person action game being copied here, and that you're almost always accompanied by at least one AI partner who could desperately use some human interaction.
It's only at the very end that Deathly Hallows Part 2 grapples with the enormity of the events it depicts, but by then it's too little, too late. What gravitas it summons is borrowed from print and film rather than earned through gameplay, and the retro-tinged montage that follows feels less effective as a result; a momentary whimsy rather than the capstone on a meaningful adventure.
Devotees may still play along, through fandom obligation if nothing else, but there's no spell that can change the fact that Harry Potter's videogame saga ends with a whimper rather than a bang.
4 / 10