Earlier today, at its Summer Preview event in San Francisco, Electronic Arts showed off the latest Nintendo Wii version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was only a few weeks ago that we last saw the game in action, but today's presentation still afforded us an opportunity to check out some new stuff and to see that progress has been made.
Unlike the build of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that we saw last time, this one didn't feature any of the usual cheats and debug options that are used to show off later areas, and so the Hogwarts that we were shown looked much as it will the first time you play the game. The school didn't look radically different, but there were a large number of locked doors with signs on them that, while not particularly pleasing to the eye, will save you the bother of trying and failing to get through them. We also noticed that most of the animated portraits, which we previously learned will offer quests and unlock shortcuts for you, were asleep, perhaps because you'll only be able to use their shortcuts to get to areas that you've already visited using more conventional means.
As we mentioned in our previous preview, Hogwarts is a large and confusing building that will certainly take a while for you to learn your way around. The promised navigation assistance option that will let you follow footprints to your chosen destination has now been implemented, and we're pleased to report that it appears to do its job both admirably and unobtrusively. After setting your destination, you'll notice a set of five or six dark footprints appearing at your feet and pointing you in the right direction--they vanish when you walk the right way but reappear anytime you stray from the most direct route to where you want to be.
We got to see a number of Harry's "charm" spells (as opposed to combat spells) being used during today's presentation, including accio (pull), depulso (push), reparo (repair), reducto (blast), wingardium leviosa (object levitation), and incendio (fire). Additional spells will be unlocked as you progress through the game, and we learned tonight that the pause menu will feature an option that reminds you which gestures you need to make to cast them. None of the gestures that we saw today were complicated--reparo is performed by making a clockwise circle motion, for example--but it's good to know that trial and error won't be your only option if you forget which gestures do what.
Our presentation came to an end in the area of Hogwarts known as the transfiguration courtyard, where Harry challenged a student from a rival house to a game of gobstones. A lot like marbles, gobstones challenges you to knock colored stones out of a chalk circle while keeping yours inside it. On the Wii, gobstones will be played simply by positioning the camera so that it's pointing in the direction that you want to roll your stone and then flicking the Wii Remote while holding and then releasing the B button. The minigame--which is one of three, the others being exploding snap and wizard chess--looked like it will make for a fun distraction from the regular game, and we're looking forward to checking the other minigames and bringing you more information on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix just as soon as we get our hands on a copy.