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Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban

1 rating: 3.0
Action and Adventure video game by EA - Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 2

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter fans can experience the magic and peril of Harry's third year at Hogwarts. For the first time gamers will play as friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as well as Harry Potter, switching between … see full wiki

Release Date: June, 2004
1 review about Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban

Prisoner of Azkaban- A Fun Game That's Not TOO Much of a Challenge

  • Dec 5, 2006
Rating:
+3
Pros: You can play as Ron, Hermione, or Harry, graphics are better, loading times are down

Cons: ...but the game is a bit short and easy to beat; no Quidditch!

The Bottom Line: This is a fun game and a great addition to the Harry Potter video games.

The Harry Potter franchise has proved to be very successful over the past few years. Based on the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling, the series has produced four blockbuster movies, and five video games.

The third in the series is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As a big fan of the books, I was a bit weary of the venture into video games. However, they have all been thoroughly entertaining (with the exclusion of the SS game for Playstation, but that's a different review...) and this one fails to disappoint.

Plot/Story
It's Harry's third year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and as usual, it's not going to be a normal term. Sirius Black, the wizard who betrayed Harry's parents to Lord Voldemort, has escaped from the wizard prison, Azkaban, and is now going after Harry. The prison has released Dementors (hooded figures that kill by kissing the enemy and sucking out their soul) to patrol Hogwarts and look for Black, but they have gone awry and decided to attack Harry instead. On top of all of this, Harry and his friends are still required to attend classes and work on projects, like collecting potion ingredients for Professor Snape's class. Will Harry ever get a break?

Gameplay
Until now, all of the Harry Potter games only allow the option for you to play as Harry. This time around, though, you can switch from Harry or his best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. The three characters each have their own strengths, and obtain unique spells during the game. This provides a fun addition to gameplay, and it's essential to switch characters in order to get through many levels.

You start off with Harry, who is the best for jumping over cliffs, walking along edges, and running quickly. Harry only gets two unique spells, including Expecto Patronum which wards off Dementors.

Hermione's character stays true to the books, and receives the most spells, seeing as how she's the most studious out of the three. One of her helpful incantations is, Glacius, which freezes water and fire, and proves to be very useful during the game. In addition to four exclusive spells, Hermione is also very good at squeezing under small spaces that the boys are too large to fit under, and sneaking around the Prefects that patrol Hogwart's corridors late at night.

Ron only holds one spell, Lumos Duo which, like in the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets game is used to project light. His spell isn't used as much as the others, but Ron is the only one out of the three that is good at searching and finding things. In previous games, Harry would often be able to approach a bookshelf or Flipendo a vase and reveal Bertie Botts beans or other treats, but in this game, he and Hermione aren't able to find the things that Ron can. In addition to searching around the castle, Ron is also the only character that can find secret passageways or hidden rooms.

The controls are pretty much the same as in the other games. You start right off with Flipendo on the square button, which is used to knock over objects and has been seen in all the previous games. The X-button is still used for action, like dropping things or talking to other people. The O-button is used to switch characters, and later you can switch spells around on both the square button and the triangle button. I found the loss of the O-button a bit challenging, seeing as how there are several levels when you'll need to use more than two spells at a time. However, you can always pause the game and switch spells quickly before continuing on.

Like the other games, this one contains several bonuses and side quests. You still have the option of collecting Famous Witches and Wizards Cards, which increase stamina each time you complete a category in your Folio Universitas. A new addition to the game is the Folio Bruti which is a book describing the enemies you'll face throughout the game, and you can only complete it by finding the missing pages that are hidden in the castle. Bertie Bott's Beans are back, and this time around you can carry 250 at a time- they come in handy when you stop by Fred and George's shop (now relocated on the 6th floor) where Ron, Hermione, or Harry can buy special items and new spells that help during the game.

There are three mini games, and unlike the other games in the series, you are now allowed the option to play them straight from the main menu without having to go into the story mode. The first one is Wizard Dueling. You get to choose which team you want to play and then join the opposition in the Great Hall to duel using Flipendo and Expelliarmus, which disarms the opponent.

Owl Racing is a fun, but pointless game, where you choose an Owl (Harry's owl, Hedwig, isn't an option :( ) and race them through the school. You can also fly Hagrid's pet Hippogriff, Buckbeak, in a mini game, and during the story mode you must fly him to receive a grade in Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class. (For some reason, I've never gotten Ron to fly Buckbeak. I think he's too clumsy to do it, because Harry and Hermione can approach him and fly on him just fine).

There are also three side quests. Returning from the previous games is the bulletin board challenge, where you may find lost items on the Gryffindor note board for house points. Hermione can search the castle for statues and when she completes her list her defense and spell power goes up. And Ron has a stink pellet challenge, where the reward is a rare trading card.

The game has a lot to keep you occupied, but it's still a bit shorter than Chamber of Secrets, which seems to be the best game in the series so far (though I'm not sure about the newest Goblet of Fire game yet- I haven't got a chance to buy it). There are only a few spell challenges, and most of them are fairly easy and don't take long to complete. There is no Quidditch, which really upsets me, seeing as how it was one of the most fun parts of the game. I'm assuming that it was excluded because of the release of Quidditch World Cup, a game entirely focused on Quidditch, but I still would've liked to see it in this game too.

Even the finale is a bit easy, and I'm not saying this because I'm a GREAT gamer. Honestly, I only got stuck twice throughout the game, which pales in comparison to Chamber of Secrets where I constantly looked for tips online and got several house points knocked off for being caught sneaking out of the Dormitory at night (which is removed from this game. If a Prefect, Statue, or Troll catches you at night, no house points are taken away, and you just start back at the beginning of that level.)

You can explore quite a bit during the game, but it doesn't seem like there is as much as there was in the previous games. Several classrooms remain locked, and the Hogwarts grounds, though beautiful, don't really have anything worth venturing outside for.

The loading times are down a lot from the last game. Chamber of Secrets often had two minute loading times, but the longest load screen I've gotten with Prisoner was about thirty seconds. The load screens also come up less often than before- they are usually only necessary during a change of levels or when the gang leaves the castle to go outside.

The game is EyeToy capable, which allows you to hook a USB camera up to system and appear onscreen to play interactively with the game.

Graphics
You can immediately notice the improvement in the graphics. Though the second game looked wonderful, this one is even better. The lighting and shading is more realistic, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione look wonderful. As I mentioned before, Hogwarts looks beautiful from outside, and for the first time, the weather changes with each season. It rains in the fall, snows in the winter, and it's sunny and hot in the spring.

I was really excited to see how the Dementors would translate, and they are just as scary as the books describe them. When they grasp for Harry's soul, you can literally see a shadow of his body being pulled away, and you can see mist floating around him. You can also hear the sounds of his parents, Lily and James, trying to protect him before he dies. But that leads us into...

Sound Effects
I really enjoyed the sounds on this game. As in previous games, all the characters talk, and you can go up to any student and speak to them. This is fun to do, though most of the students and teachers at Hogwarts have a limited vocabulary and only gossip about whatever is new at the school. Harry continues to mumble to himself in a charming British accent, while Ron and Hermione tend to argue with each other ever so often.

If you press the L1 button, whoever is leading the gang can call for the others to join them, and they will reply with, "Sure Harry!" or "Be right there!" which is also very cute.

Ron, Hermione and Harry also react to the weather changes in Hogwarts, by randomly saying, "Blimey, it's cold out here", or "These robes are really hot".

The music is similar to the previous games, though during the Dementor attacks, a frightening choir can be heard in the background- adding to the intensity of the scene.

Overall
The game is really a lot of fun. Using the three different characters adds a lot of depth, and the game continues the formula of fun puzzles and exploration of the castle. I would've liked it to be a bit longer, and more complicated, but it's still a great addition to any Harry Potter fan's collection.

More Harry!
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for Playstation 2
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup for PlayStation 2
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- Original Soundtrack

Recommended:
Yes

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