With a great new control scheme, and new locations, what's not to love?

User Rating: 9.5 | Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince PS2
As an avid fan of the Harry Potter franchise, I have had a pretty all inclusive experience. To say the least, I've read all of the books, watched all of the movies, and played all of the games, and in this experience, I have noted something about most of the games... They suck. Now, that's not to say that each of them don't have their good qualities, but the overall quality of the games is absolutely horrible... That changed, however when they published Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Sure, the controls were a little squirrelly, and there was no real good way to go about remembering which spell was which way, but it was graphically better, along with the game play being tons better.

So that brings us to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I walked in to this game with an expectation of a repeat of OOTP, but boy was I wrong. The new control scheme for duels made spells easy to remember, as well as creating a feeling of power behind the controller. It gave a sense of awe to see spells flying as fast as my thumb could move forward on the control stick. There are also fewer spells for use outside of duels, which makes things MUCH easier to remember.

Alongside the new control scheme, there are a couple of new "minigames" if you will. First is the new potion system. Since potions are so utterly important in this installment of the HP series, you, as Harry, are tasked with making potions. The mechanics are pretty simple: press "x" to pick up/drop items, use Left Stick to move items over cauldron, use Right Stick to pour liquids into/stir/heat cauldron. There is, however, a timer which, if it runs out, you will be forced to restart the ENTIRE potion. It is just that much incentive to get it right the first time, because, trust me, some of them can get rather tiresome getting down to the last ingredient and having to start over after five minutes of d*#king around with it.

The second "new" minigame is Quidditch. You are tasked with playing Quidditch as the seeker in this game. I, personally, was overcome with joy when I heard of this feature. I hadn't played a good game of Quidditch for years. Now, don't get me wrong, the "fly through the star" aspect of it didn't give as much freedom as Quidditch World Cup did, but it did give you the thrill of the pursuit. The nearly constant commentary about how the game is progressing from Lee Jordan in the background is also a good way to keep yourself entertained, though it does seem to repeat itself quite a lot throughout the same match.

The only thing that I would have to say detracts from this game are the slight deviations from the book that come with adapting it for the big screen picture. There are a few things, such as the use of Levicorpus, (a purely nonverbal spell which is being used as a verbal spell,) which was also used in OOTP that are minor, but, once again, for a die-hard HP fan, very noticeable.

Overall, I would definitely say that this is the best game of the series yet, and I hope to see the same, if not better, from Deathly Hallows.