Trust me on this one, the book is better than the movie, and it's WAY better than the game.
Order of the Phoenix has no story at all to speak of since it takes the story of Harry's 5th book and therefore if you already read the book it makes the story just a blunt rip off of source material. However, if you haven't read the book and this is your first times playing a Harry Potter game then get ready to have your brains scramblified. The story follows the key points of the movie meaning it has no real plot information and doesn't tell you who they are or what is going on. Each cut-scene of sorts furthers the story but without real back-bone information you traverse through the story with nothing to aid you in figuring out what the heck is going on around Hogwarts. One interesting thing to note is how Harry Potter's voice actors aren't even from the movie; while Rupert Grint reprises his role other actors lend their voice to the young Hogwarts students. While they do great job in getting the voice right their emotion in them is bland and dry. The emotion in their voices is drained away from the story and their tones are everyday voices even when a dark evil threatens the very balance of the muggle and wizard world. What doesn't help is how while the sound is exceptionally amazing the looping of Hermoine and Ron's voices as they follow you through the castle is very dry, repetitive, and will make you pause the game to bring up the sound options menu. Other weird voice actors lend their voices and surprisingly they do great work, portraits sound just like what they look like, and they have the funny and charming emotions of the portraits in the movie; still though their lack of sound variety will get on your nerve especially if you walk back and forth using them.
When you get into the game you'll notice a cut-scene of the opening scene of the movie and it does look spectacular. The shining sun and landscape designs make it look absolutely real and the vivid color design makes it just like the movie, except when you get to the human characters. EA uses new technology to scan the pictures of the real actor's faces into the game. This would seem like a great idea but the faces are just hollow and emotionless. The jagged look of Harry Potter's face in motion looks just ugly as it makes him feel like a robot, these distractions are on all the faces so to sum it up, good luck trying to look away from them. What doesn't help is how creepy the animations are and how stiff they look; it's a great fit for Voldemort but everyone else looking like mindless zombies. The graphics for the game are actually sharp as a tack, the visual flair of magic spells are cast with great effect and the animations of everything is well crafted. The backgrounds aren't always their best but this is Harry Potter, a book and world of dark and untold secrets so it makes sense to murky the visuals a bit. The contractions of brighter colors do hamper the murky visuals so it does make them look disgusting but the animation in characters and even in their lip animations is realistic but still a little stiff. Sadly though it doesn't matter because while the graphics are sharp and amazing the core game-play is tedious and doesn't hold any justice to the film it bases itself on.
The game-play is simple shooter like but with a twist of magic as instead of pressing a button to cast a spell you engage on the PC in holding down the left mouse button or right and waving the mouse in a specific direction to cast the spell. This system works and is very engaging as if you are almost literally casting a spell in real life. The mechanic sadly doesn't work as the game is very strict and if you make one mistake in casting a Stupify spell you'll end up casting a different spell like Protego. The system, as said, is engaging but when you're desperately trying to conjure a Stupify to finish the enemy but end up casting Incendio or w/e it escalates to frustrations. The system can also work against you that no matter how many times you spin the mouse clockwise or counterclockwise it will either not register a single spell and you'll have Harry flaying his arms around like he's trying to swat a fly or conjuring the wrong spell. It also doesn't help that the while engaging you have to maintain the spell in order for it to work. For example, you have to keep rotating the mouse clockwise to cast Reparo but one mistake and it ends up on the ground shattered again. This system is strict and stern and it makes the core adventure feel boring if you're going through the entire castle finding the extras that are sprinkled around it. About the only thing good about the system is that it is engaging making you feel almost like you really are casting a spell and are Harry Potter and it is good that some spells are easier than others. It helps the boring nature of the system rise but only by a small feat, the spell casting system is still pathetic, tedious, and absolutely long and repetitive.
What also doesn't help is how big Hogwarts is. This would be a good thing as it gives more incentive to roam the entire school looking for secrets and portraits to help transport you; sadly though the Castle isn't just too big it's also too bland to give any distinction and have one bit stand out from the rest. If you wander off somewhere and roam around the castle you'll soon keep getting lost and without distinction it will be impossible to find your way back. The map is also atrocious, instead of a simple flat and bird eye view map it's attempted to have a 3D drawn view of the castle. It's impressive but it can get confusing on figuring out which way is which. There are portraits in the game, the portraits are good and are able to help get you to places faster than normal and still stay in sync to the charming voice work. However, the portraits aren't going to let you through without a password; in order to get that pass word you'll have to go out and search for someone who might have it. This means you have to trudge all throughout the castle just find one person to give you a password to another part of the castle that you may have just been at. It's at least easier to move through the castle with portraits guiding you through but make sure to remember where they are otherwise you'll once again be wandering through the castle and will be engulfed in a state of boredom.
Combat is mildly fun even with the sloppy and sometimes unresponsive spell system. Battles are easy to figure out, just shoot a bunch of spells at a given target and once he or she is down on the ground take them out with Expelliarmus. Battles are sadly only fun because of the flash and amazing tricks that Harry can conjure up; but otherwise battles are really tedious, and just plain shallow. Battles take no strategy in winning especially when Ron and Hermoine act like mindless slaves and help you beat up the kids of Hogwarts. All you need to do to win a battle is simple spell spamming and then use Expelliarmus , and sometimes the battles are just dull because you can cast stunning spells. Spells like Levicorpso and Patrifacis Totallis are spells that will have your opponent in a stun state or an upside down state unable to do anything and still take spell damage. Battles are also limited, for huge fans of Harry Potter you may be sad to see how Harry has not yet learned how to use Avada Kedavra or any other dark art spell. This makes sense but later in the game you take control of some more experienced wizards. In one battle you become Serious blasting away the Death Eaters and in another sequence you become Dumbledore, all with the same spells that Harry uses. It seems fine for Harry to be limited to magic that only he knows but Dumbledore and Serious are much more experienced "players" and their limit makes the game less varied. In fact the entire game lacks variety in many key locations as the visuals, while stunning, lack distinction, objectives seem to stay in the general range of simplicity, and characters that you meet may end up being in a different class. These limits hold the game back from its true potential of standing out in the crowd of action adventure games.
Yes fans, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is an action adventure game. Hogwart's students have seen Umbridge's tyranny and want her out and so Dumbledore's Army is formed but to get them to join you must complete their objectives and only then will they help you out. Some of these can be somewhat tense such as one where you must fill the Hogwarts mail boxes of wizards with packages and must quickly get out of their before Filch comes up. Sadly though, the objectives soon just become boring, and you'll wish that some of the students would instead do some of their work rather than you having to clean up their mess. The objectives may require you to run around the castle to help them find a talking statue that they need for a project, get a camera that someone flew up to the roof, or even just finding a portrait so that they don't need to climb up all those stairs. Traveling around Hogwarts is still a snoozefest so you'll be wishing for the objective to be over rather than engulfed in the adventure. Controls are still clunky so spells will be hard and may frustrate you when you constantly cast spells and to no avail will you get anywhere. All this adds up to the objectives being boring and broken in so many ways; it's kind of a shame since recruiting kids for Dumbledore's Army is pretty much most of the game.
For serious collectors fans you may be pleased; or not, that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has what you're looking for. People around Hogwarts have a game or two to play with you and in doing so will have you end up getting prizes, experience, and rewards that you can view in your reward room. The games are verily fun but also verily easy and some of them are just boring like a chess mini-game. Sure, out of all the games to pick for a mini-game you have to go with the most boring, time consuming and little feeling of reward game out there. At least these are playable and they do contain the Harry Potter charm of magic infused into the game. Sadly though the mini-games may be a bit ear aching as their vocabulary in instances are a bit limited and you may just want to kill them even when they compliment you. Of course if you aren't wanting games but rewards well there is that, collectibles include movies on the making of the game, animated trophies, and concept art. There are also tests that you can take outside of the main mission where teachers want you to do simple tasks of spell casting and reflex testing. It also may be bad but there is something utterly exciting of taking a giant object around the teacher's room and flying it right at them. Still the wonky controls plaque these games and in time tests that can really be a big problem. Aside from that there really isn't a whole lot of incentive to keep playing the game, and it makes the adventure of boredom that you had to endure feel like it was meaningless, and a waste of time.
There are some genuine moments of decency and sometimes goodness in Harry's adventure into the game world. It at least sticks to the source material verily well and it is good to hear the some of the actors of the movie giving their performances in the game and they do a solid job at that as well. Plus the sound design is also very well put together as spells are given recognizable tunes and the music also holds up verily well especially in tense battle situations. Graphics are generally hold up great as well as towers and even Hogwarts could be in the background but as you get near it you will actually see it enlarge as if you really were getting close to. Technical proficiency is sprinkled throughout the game as the animations of running, walking, climbing, and even speaking are animated with a certain realistic charm that can draw some people in at how amazing the game runs. Combat is flashy and fun and voice actors all hold up well even though they aren't the real cast of Harry Potter. Another good thing is that at least the castle uses the portraits so that you can get around the castle easier. The game has some things in it that are good, but the problems are consistent and will never leave making the entire journey just feel long and boring with a few moments of fun sprinkled in it.
These moments are sucked away to fast sadly as you go tediously walk around the castle, engage in boring combat, and have to stare at the same ugly faces of Hogwarts and the bland art design of Hogwarts. Hogwarts is brought to life in the 3D world but the color scheme is atrocious. Bland gray and tan backgrounds simply look disgusting and even with the portraits all around some of the color has just been washed away. It's a good thing then that at least the spells add in some of the color that is missing from the background.
-Animations are fluid and realistic
-Flashy combat looks good
-Voice actors are actually pretty decent
-Sound design is very good
-Faces look incredibly realistic
-Some rewards to get
-Has a certain Harry Potter charm to it
-Portraits are great to cut down some run time
-Mini-games with a Harry Potter twist to them
-Boring backtracking and forward tracking
-No skill or strategy in battles
-Voice actors really don't give it their all
-Facial animations stifle
-Big castle that will make you get lost
-At least watch the movie or else forget the story
-Spell system is clunky and finicky
-Controls are awkward
-Objectives are the biggest part of the main mission
-Elder wizards are also limited
-Go through the castle to use a portrait
-Looping voices will get on your nerves
-Boring objectives that result in more tedious backtracking through the castle
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a broken down mess, it's controls are incredibly clunky, it gets tedious way to fast, and the castle is long and that increases the tedium; overall, it's just plain tedious and boring. Harry Potter's epic saga is a great work of literature and the movies do it justice, the games on the other hand takes all that was good about the books and curses them. It may be more than 850 pages but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is much better read than played.