Just prior to E3 2005, we had the opportunity to check out a brief demo of EA's newest entry in the Harry Potter game franchise, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This latest adventure is a decidedly more action-oriented one, eliminating some of the puzzle-solving aspects of the previous titles and focusing more on pure combat, as well as the Triwizard events featured in the book and upcoming movie. The previous demo we saw only showed off one level, but at today's press event held by EA, we were able to check out a couple of new levels--specifically, a couple of the heralded Triwizard events.
The first of the levels featured Harry riding his trusty broomstick through a vast outdoor environment while being pursued by a massive dragon. This was sort of a rail-based level, in that you could simply let go of the controls and Harry would continue to scoot along, though at a much slower pace. The key here, however, was to try to get through as quickly as possible, ideally without running into too much of the scenery. Harry had a specific thrust function that could be used to speed him up while sacrificing a degree of control, and the left analog stick could be used to move him up and down and side to side. The premise of the level mainly was just to use your reflexes to avoid hitting things and obviously to outrun the dragon. The pacing was quite brisk, and even with the amount of lush scenery featured in the level, the frame rate seemed to hold up brilliantly.
The second event went from the skies to underwater, taking place in the deeps of a murky, cold lake. For this event, Harry has taken on a few fishlike characteristics, with gills and flippers. Though Harry doesn't move by himself in this level, the event takes on a similarly on-rails methodology here, with Harry swimming along a fairly set path. Along the way, Harry encounters a number of grindylows, ugly sea creatures that have a tendency to attack when you get near them. Harry can shoot blue-tinted magic jinxes to kill the little buggers as they swim around, and in fact, you'll be shooting them at quite a quick pace as the level progresses and more and more of them appear. You won't have to do too much to target them, as you can pretty much just aim the stick in the direction of an enemy and a targeting reticle will appear over it.
The build we saw of Goblet of Fire today showed quite a bit more polish than the E3 demo did. A lot more of the graphical bells and whistles were apparent, and the two Triwizard event levels we looked at were quite nice. The underwater level was especially impressive, with some nice lighting and a great overall feel to it. Both the levels are said to be very much modeled after the film, so you'll get quite a cinematic experience from playing the game.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is due to hit stores in November on the PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, DS, PSP, and Game Boy Advance, just in time for the new Harry Potter film. We'll bring you more on the game as it becomes available.