Skip to main content

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

Gears of Wand.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

They grow up so fast. Once upon a time it was all magic beans and '10 points to Gryffindor!' Now it's lairy teens shooting bad wizards in the face. Scream it to the skies, muggle population: Harry Potter just went third-person shooter.

At first you laugh. But then you slowly realise it makes sense. The core Harry Potter audience, the ones who have been playing the movie tie-in games at least, have been with the boy magician since the earliest books and their tenderest years.

JK Rowling's cast have reached adulthood through a process of exams, teenage catfights, tentative snogging in gothic corridors and mixed success in the fight against dark wizards.

Meanwhile, in Muggleton, and at the other end of the Hogwarts Express, their fans have similarly come of age. Whereas the Potter games of yore had wands set on the stupefaction of kids between 7 and 11, now the range of 10 to 14 (and perhaps slightly above) is the target.

To sum it all up, in this game (and therefore film) Harry Potter has bypassed the perils of a bumfluff adolescence and entered the realms of sustained and noticeable stubble growth. We've come a long, long way together.

For the first time, then, Harry will be controlled in the familiar third-person action style - he'll take cover behind pillars, crouch behind scenery that's crumbling under the barrage of enemy spells and have a camera that can be pulled in closer when you're trying to make trickier shots.

Wand from Ollivanders. Jumper from Matalan. Glasses: model's own.

While the spells you're firing off are somewhat more 'fizzy and sparkles' than your usual common-or-garden third-person weaponry, the thinking behind those Latin-bastardising spells is rather more conventional than you'd expect.

Petrificus Totalus? Well, there's your shotgun. Stupefy? Pistol. Peruvian Darkness Potion? Smoke grenade! The list goes on and on: familiar shooter weapon tropes transmogrified into the world of Potter, each with the benefits and drawbacks of their more bullet-based counter-parts.

Crucio, for example, is a stream of red spurts that acts as the game's machinegun - and will overheat in the manner that video game convention demands. Confringo, here representing the venerable rocket launcher, takes an age to reload.

It all sounds faintly silly, but it should be underlined that this approach entirely fits in with the plot and themes present with Deathly Hallows. For the heathen non-JK enthusiasts out there, by the time the final book rolls around (split into two films, and therefore two games, at the end of this year and beginning of next) Harry is on the run.

Death Eaters have access to the same range of fiery death spells that Potter does.

Its plot of assaults, attacks and stealth incursions into places like the Ministry of Magic, Gringotts bank and Hogwarts itself are perfect fodder for a level-by-level item-collection action game.

What's more, whereas in past times there was generally a bigger and more powerful wizard able to step into the breach and help Harry out (Sirius Black, Dumbledore et al) the sequence of unfortunate events that has heralded the return of Voldemort means that Harry, Ron and Hermione are very much on their lonesome.

If ever there were a time for Potter to be equipped with vials of Exploding Fluid (grenades), then this is probably it.

So, has Potter entirely joined the Order of the (Marcus) Fenix? Well, not quite. EA isn't showing it off yet (in fact at the time of writing it's holding back from showing anything that's directly from the movie at the demand of cruel Hollywood overlords), but stealth will also play a major part in Deathly Hallows.