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Publisher: Electronic Arts    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
October 16, 2007 | Michael Scarpelli

Click to enlarge

One of my favorite vistas from the game.
Letís not beat around the bush. The Mac gaming world is thirsty and EA has promised to deliver sustenance in four handy little packages. One of those bits of Gamerís Relief is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the latest video game adaptation of the juggernaut film and book series. Since youíre likely chomping at the bit for some awesome, quality, A-List Mac gaming Iíll tell you right away youíre not really going to find it here.

Sorry. I know that's a sort of a kick in the pants.

Order of the Phoenix (OOTP) is not really a bad game, but itís not really a great game, either. Much of this, in my opinion, has everything to do with J.K. Rowlingís novel of the same title. The fifth book in a seven book series, OOTP is far and away the weakest of the series. You can tell me Iím crazy (my friend Abby says it is her favorite and sheís a die-hard fan), but Iím saying it. Itís the worst one.

[Authorís Note: There will be some plot discussion in here, so if you fear spoilers, you have been warned.] OOTP is a book where Harry doesnít really do anything, other than be sullen and irritable. The biggest sacrifices in the novel are made by his friends and compatriots. The downfall of the novelís main villain is something Harry has very little to do with. There are a few moments where he can shine in the Department of Mysteries, but all together OOTP as a book was a plodding, overlong setup for books six and seven.

This fact is massively apparent in the game, whose gameplay tasks are redundant, boring and seemingly of little real consequence. My time with OOTP consisted largely of running back and forth across Hogwarts on silly little gopher tasks. Anything that constitutes a plot point from the book is glazed through in the game via cinematics. But itís not really the developerís fault, because theyíve not been given tons to work with. However, they could have lessened the drudgery a bit.

Okay, letís get down to brass tacks. What is this game like? OOTP is basically Harry Potter: GTA, and as far as that is concerned, it works out great. Hogwarts is a fully realized 3D world for you to wander through. The detail and scope of the school is impressive, and was easily the high point of the game for me. You get a very accurate feel for the size and complexity of the campus, and thatís something that real fans will surely appreciate. There are sweeping vistas, grand courtyards, cramped stairwells, talking portraits, ghosts and students milling about everywhere. Hogwarts feels very alive.

It helps, too, that the game looks good and runs well (I was able to do full graphic settings at 1024x768 resolution on a 15Ē MacBook Pro with absolutely no slowdown). Characters are at least competent approximations of their real-world counterparts (except for Colin Creevy, couldnít they have at least tried to make him shorter than Harry?) and voices are a good attempt. Most are a bit off, but not so much so to be offensive. And the score for the game is really rich, taking advantage of some of the most notable themes from the films, which really helps to engross the player in the experience.


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