Harry Potter II: The Chamber of Secrets

8Charming, simple fun.

Harry Potter 2’s gameplay borrows heavily from the Zelda school of adventuring, but the appeal of playing a boy wizard at Hogwarts retains its own rewards. Like the movie its based upon, Harry Potter 2 is full of charm, colorful characters and simple fun. It’s an action adventure that is still primarily marketed towards kids, with a suitably easy difficulty level, and also a great deal of control and gameplay improvements that make it loads more playable than the previous game.

A linear adventure game, your tasks will vary each day and they range from completing obstacle courses to playing in Quidditch matches. The spell system is remarkably simple – though you need to complete a minigame ripped straight out of Guitar Hero to unlock new spells, once learned, it’s merely a matter of holding down the mouse button to aim your wand and releasing it to cast. This simple system leaves little room for any creativity, however, since everything in the game has its own assigned spell that auto-activates once you hover your crosshair over it.

This may sound simplistic, but really the game is more about puzzle-solving than combat. Even where monsters are used as obstacles, they perform more as puzzle objects than genuine threats (a common trick, for instance, is to stun enemies and push them over pressure plates to unlock doors). Another bit of the game is the platforming, which is also easy to grasp. Perhaps one reason why the game plays so easily is thanks to the upgraded camera and controls, which are both leagues better than those of the first game. You can now sidestrafe, jump and look around without any restrictions.

The Quidditch matches have also received a makeover – it is played on broomsticks and it is a little like basketball because you have to get a ball through a hoop. However, there is another ball that the opposing team hits with a stick in order to “peg” the player with the ball and make him drop it. Finally, there is a player whose only job is to catch a tiny golden ball called the Snitch which is worth 150 points. This is Harry’s job.

16One of the reason why Harry Potter 2 is so fun has to do with all of the stuff you can do. Though linear at its core, there’s always something a little different and new around the corner. First your platforming through a dungeon, then you’re playing Quidditch, then you get a nifty invisibility cloak which you must use to sneak around. In between these adventures you can explore Hogwarts, find secret chests, collect wizard cards or just chat up with the other wiz kids. It’s all good, simple fun that will doubtlessly charm the fans of the movie and book series.

System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 500 MB HDD, Win95/98

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