Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Hands-On Impressions

Far from Hogwarts and beset by Death Eaters, we whip out the wand and start slinging spells as if Harry's life depended on it (because it does).

The last book of the Harry Potter saga finds our trio of protagonists in unfamiliar territory. Having left Hogwarts and cut all ties to their loved ones to pursue the destruction of Lord Voldemort, Harry, Ron and Hermione have taken refuge in the wilds of Northern England. As they search for vital information, the Death Eaters hunt them mercilessly. The three heroes are isolated, threatened, and forced to defend themselves with powerful magic. This is not the Potter of years past, and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is not like any Harry Potter video game you have played before. Designed to capture the desperation and deadly importance of Harry's mission, the game arms you with an array of deadly spells and sets you against a host of ill-intentioned enemies. Is firing spells with gleeful impunity as fun as you've always imagined it to be? We picked up our controller to find out.

'Ello 'Arry!

The first thing you need to know about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is that it is a third-person shooter, complete with an over-the-shoulder camera, cover system, and targeting reticle. When running around, you see Harry's tousled hair and hoodie-clothed back, which were animated quite nicely in our demo build. If you slide into nearby cover with the touch of a button, you'll see the iconic glasses and, if you look closely, the infamous lightning-bolt-shaped scar. Ron and Hermione were nowhere to be seen in our demo, and the developers were cagey when asked about playing as characters other than Harry or the possibility of cooperative or competitive modes. Fortunately, Harry looked sharp and maneuvered well, and it wasn't long before hostile wizards forced us to focus on the action at hand.

The first enemies we encountered were snatchers--bounty hunters recruited by You-Know-Who that run in packs. We were on a quest to rescue some sympathetic wizards who were being held by Death Eaters in an abandoned factory complex, and as we picked our way through the industrial detritus, some snatchers appeared and started firing spells our way. We took cover as the speedy squiggles of light zipped by, and then we popped out to fire back some of our own. At this point, we were casting stupefy, described by the developer as "our equivalent of a semiautomatic pistol." Harry can cast this particular spell at a steady rate without needing to reload, but he isn't very durable, so you still need to make use of cover to avoid damage or let your health replenish.

Stupefy was just the beginning of the spells we encountered. Calling up a radial menu, we could switch among six different spell attacks on the fly. Each spell has been tailored to fill a different role in our magical arsenal, though these roles aren't always what you might expect. Expelliarmus, for example, is a charged shot that takes a minute to fire and hits like a shotgun blast, but it doesn't actually disarm your opponent. Confringo is more like a rocket launcher that explodes with impressive area damage; it not only fires slowly, but Harry also has to take to a knee in order to cast it. This forces you to step out of cover and make yourself vulnerable, lest you suicidally blast the low barrier in front of you (a lesson we learned firsthand). Harry can also cast crucio, which--far from being the horrific unforgivable curse you know and fear--fires rapidly in the manner of a submachine gun. These interpretations may seem strange, but they did create a good amount of variety from an action standpoint.

Harry's repertoire also involves spells that don't directly damage his enemies. Confundo temporarily turns an enemy against his cohorts, and Harry casts this one much like you would fire a sniper rifle in another game, complete with a zoomed-in point of view. Leviosa (the wingardium part snipped for the sake of brevity, apparently) allows you to lift objects to create cover for yourself and then throw those objects to knock down enemies. This spell, along with confringo, came in handy in removing obstacles, while another spell, four points, created a darting blue light that charted Harry's course through the industrial grounds.

After using stupefy and crucio to deal with the first few rounds of snatchers, we confringoed our way through a barrier and entered a large building. Expelliarmus helped clear out the first room, but as we climbed to a balcony, four Death Eaters appeared in the open area below. While they aren't as quick as snatchers, Death Eaters pack a much more powerful punch and take a lot more damage. Four-on-one odds are very dangerous, even for The Boy Who Lived, but a quick confundo spell evened things out long enough for us to lob a few confringos into the fray. Big magical explosions took out most of the fiends, and we mopped up with a crucio barrage.

Near the end of the demo, we entered a long-defunct nuclear cooling tower and were met with a grisly sight. The captive wizards were in agony as their luminescent life force drained out of them, up into the dark greedy maws of two dementors. We unleashed the only spell you need in a situation like this--expecto patronum--and the monsters fled up and out of the tower. Taking a breath, we walked over to the wizards, only to notice something odd beginning to happen. The edges of the screen began to cloud, and as they encroached on our field of view, it became clear that things were starting to freeze over. A trembling glance upward revealed our worst fears to be true as a horde of dementors swarmed down on us, ending the demo.

This isn't your father's Harry Potter game, which is good, because that would lead to some potentially awkward conversations.

Turning Harry Potter into the hero of a third-person shooter is no easy task, but it was pretty satisfying to finally be able to sling spells aggressively and lay the minions of the dark lord low. There's a sense of violence here that hasn't been present in previous Harry Potter games, and only time will tell whether the liberties the game is taking will translate into engaging gameplay. We were told that there will also be a progression system by which Harry gains experience and upgrades his spells, and our demo didn't include all of the spells that will eventually be in the game. Be sure to check out our interview for more on the game, as well as watch the trailer for a peek at more enemies and locations awaiting you in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

Written By

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

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Discussion

100 comments
Jak_Napier
Jak_Napier

Looks to be the best looking and playing compared to past Harry Potter games.

Kashmiro
Kashmiro

Ok I enjoyed the OotP and HBP games because it was free roam and it was neat to explore Hogwarts, but how could Harry Potter ever be turned into a 3rd person shooter? I seem to remember that in the book Harry is running and hiding from Death Eaters not killing them... This looks to be quite a stray from the novel.

DrEvilKoala
DrEvilKoala

What's this? A Harry Potter game that isn't part of the Lego series? What's next, a non-Lego star wars game? I WANT MY LEGO!

StylezT220
StylezT220

Looks like it could be good gameplay wise...which is what matters. Being a fan of Books and Movies like myslef who else found @Tsuanthony quite amusing :)

Master_cheat001
Master_cheat001

They could create an excellent game like Batman Arkham Asyslum if they changed the name of this totally sucking piece of trash to "Harry Porter: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry". Sound dumb, huh? But it would definitely work!

ValleyofDoom
ValleyofDoom

These games get worse every time I see a new one. It's horrific to see that every time there is a new movie, a new game has to be released. And that's like every 2 years. No wonder these games are worthless... they only have 2 years production time. Please, if any of you developers read this. Please don't bring us a new Harry Potter game you spend 2 years on and that sucks. I like Harry Potter. Please spend some more time on it and bring us a game that is actually worthwile playing, interesting and has a tiny bit of depth to it.

The_Breadcrab
The_Breadcrab

Great, another gears of war clone. And it looks to be just as boring and unpolished as most recent film-based games. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

jch123
jch123

this is soo frikin stupid. A 3rd person shooter, Harry Potter, thats effing gay Sure improve the gameplay, DONT MAKE THE STUPID SPELLS SOUND LIKE GUNS, and give it the story line it deserves, is that to much to ask For HARRY POTTER TO HAVE AN ENGAGING STORY WHILE HAVING GOOD GAMEPLAY??? i guess it is cause this game looks like sh*t. The potter games have had great environments and great potential, just that they've never had a good blend of gameplay and storyline and thats all it needs.

KHfan9
KHfan9

OMG I love Harry Potter!!! iv read all the books and have seen all the movies so far. this game actually seems aswome. but i agree with Fandango Letho. they should make a hogwarts game not tied into a movie. HARRY POTTER MMORPG 4TW!!! even though there isnt one. b4 u guys say anything about this comment, yes, ima bigass harry potter nerd who makes long dumb comments like this alot.

Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

Harry Potter is a brilliant piece of literature for anyone who enjoys a bit of fantasy, kids and old people included. That said, they should make an Harry Potter game based around the concept of Bully.

Vyvi
Vyvi

Hey Tsuanthony, there are people who pity those who like the movies, as well, and thinks it should have simply stayed a book. Don't act so high and mighty, guy.

Vyvi
Vyvi

Heh, I might give this a try. I think this game might piss off some fans and mothers, however.

loggens
loggens

havent really liked harry potter games..but seems like u liked it quite nicly so i quess i give it a try..like any other potter games..lol

Sword-bearer
Sword-bearer

Looks like they're going to bring us something more unusual. It would be nice if they add the co-op and competetive MP, this game will have a real success.

gamer082009
gamer082009

It still being a Harry Potter game based on kids stories I'll pass even though I don't know much of this new era of the game. I'm sure this game will be popular in the UK though..

jmcmanj
jmcmanj

looks a lot better than the others, but still not A material.

Tsuanthony
Tsuanthony

even if they changed the formula for the harry potter games, I still stand firm against it, any harry potter game, regardless if it's good or not, I dispiese it should stay a book and a movie.. no offense but I pity the people that actually find this interesting and are willing to give it a try

Clarkinator
Clarkinator

This looks like a lot of fun and seems like the Uncharted style of game. And that just makes it all the better. I really look forward to this in E3.

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

I hope this is a good game, but who can have faith after 6 absolutely piece of crap games, yeah actually since the market of the first 2 were kids they weren't actually so bad, but the others were

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

I hope this is a good game, but who can have faith after 6 absolutely piece of crap games

DarkAngel421
DarkAngel421

Just gonna hope this isn't another failure ..

OmegaAK47
OmegaAK47

This looks like some one really wanted to do a gears of war game, but got stuck with Harry Potter.

Freakazoid_br
Freakazoid_br

I can't believe they might actually NOT mess it up this time. Hope I'm right, cuz they're running out of opportunities.

sk8oridie44
sk8oridie44

Crucio doesn't torture the victims, but rather fires bursts of light at them? Expelliarmus doesn't knock the wand, but just explodes and damages the death eaters? WHY??? Stick to what the spell does really, it'd be interesting to see that!!!

Megasus_
Megasus_

@riou7 yeah, you're right, because all the other harry potter games were first person!

riou7
riou7 moderator moderator

3rd person perspective.. hmm this should be interesting.

ShotgunStalker
ShotgunStalker

The first game was awsome. I hopw they dont messs this up

silverstone_911
silverstone_911

i read this book and it is the most exciting and it contains a lot of battles and fast paced action i hope EA can translate the book into a good game

jp_
jp_ moderator

I remember when I used to play Sorcerers Stone on my cpu but I lost the install code =/

King-And-Knight
King-And-Knight

I think this part of harry potter is better than all part

megatrunks
megatrunks

Harry patter games used to be silly and easy but may be the new part will be better may be.

seddighzadeh123
seddighzadeh123

these have always been childish games, but this sounds interesting. i'm definitly gonna keep an eye on this

chris9545
chris9545

be cool if you could somehow go evil in the game by using the dark arts or killing randoms

KingsterX
KingsterX

i think it sounds really good but lets see if they can actually pull it off

manslayer2010
manslayer2010

So IDK if any1 thinks this would be as Awesome as I do but I think it would be pretty freaking sweet if they either had online multiplayer be a mode where some people could be the good guys (harry, ron, hermoine, dumbeldore etc) and other people could be the bad guys from the books (the malfoys, other death eaters, voldemort etc.) or if they actually let you create your own wizard with an online progression system with skills (like modern warfare perks). IDK thats just my rant but I really hope this game is as BA as it seems it will be

TLM16
TLM16

Not for me. I like that they're experimenting but... meh.

karloss01
karloss01

sorry if this offends but Harry really does look like he has down syndrome.

CJHammers
CJHammers

I would prefer to get lego harry potter considering most of the harry potter games have been rubbish.

bibliomaniac15
bibliomaniac15

No more inane quest-fests? Sounds like actual fun.

blasterchief
blasterchief

I hope they make the game actually good, like it sounds. Although I'm not quite happy with what they're doing with the spells. Why take out the Wingardium from Wingardium Leviosa? I love the Confringo idea, but why does Expelliarmus not disarm enemies? And why the hell would Harry use Crucio? He only does it at his angriest moments.

Banana391
Banana391

The first and only Harry Potter game I've ever owned is Chamber of Secrets on the GameBoy Color. This might just be the second.

Chaos_Eagle
Chaos_Eagle

@SocialAnXieTy They have to maintain the website somehow. Money doesn't come out of nowhere.

Anarchist93
Anarchist93

lovely....just hope we can play someone else in the game, harry is such a loser

OllieTheDogBoy
OllieTheDogBoy

Harry Potter gone hardcore as the francise can get

SocialAnXieTy
SocialAnXieTy

I don't understand why GameSpot does Hands-On Impressions of games that they know will be rated 4.0-6.0.. oh that's right, this gives them money. Blood suckers.