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June 18, 2004
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
2/6/2004EA GamesEA Games1-4GEasy
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
110KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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The three game heroes.
Before I start this review I have to mention that I am not a fan of Harry Potter. I've never read the books and really only found the first two movies mildly interesting. As I type this my wife is sitting in the Gold Class cinema watching the third movie, I couldn't even be bothered going. So it was with little interest that I approached this game, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is based on that third game. What I discovered was a game that while unlikely to set the gaming world alight will certainly make Harry Potter fans very happy indeed.

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Using magic.
As pretty much anyone who is reading this will have read the books or seen the latest movie this game is based around the events that take place in the third story. Sirius Black, who killed Harry's parents, has arrived and he's out to spell grave danger to Harry. This game follows the plot of the movie and books pretty closely (according to my wife anyway) and while the game fleshes out a fair amount of the storyline for novices I (as a novice) still found myself somewhat confused a times.

As with previous games in the series Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is played from a third person perspective, but the biggest difference from previous titles is that you can now switch between Harry, Ron and Hermoine during the game, each of which have different abilities. Harry, for instance, can jump further while Ron can find hidden areas and Hermoine can crawl into smaller spaces. It's nice to see Electronic Arts adding a little more variety into the game. The addition of the Dementors also adds a nice touch to the game with an evil presence ready to suck the life out of Harry.

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Time to fight, Hermoine.
The Playstation 2 version has one big addition missing from other version of the game - Eye Toy support. That's right if you haven't had your fix of mini-games from Eye Toy: Play and Eye Toy: Groove this game will keep you laughing as you play mini-games such as Chocolate Frogs, Exploding Snap, Seeker Practice, and Zonko's Joke Shop. It certainly is plenty of fun if you've enjoyed the peripheral to date, but those who haven't had the enjoyed the peripheral in the past aren't likely to be converted through this game.

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Nice locations.
There are several fairly moderate problems with this game which will stop it from becoming a game which anyone will enjoy. Firstly the AI isn't the greatest with the characters floowing your lead character occasionally getting stuck. The game also provides too many hints and clues making it a romp in the park for seasoned gamers, although the game is aimed at the younger market obviously - and for them the hints will probably be welcome.

Graphically Harry Potter is a mixed bag. Some areas like Hogwart's school is wonderfully detailed with some nice texturing. The characters are well modeled whiel their animation is a little on the stiff side, especially when compared to games like Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

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One of the Eye Toy mini-games.
As with most Electronic Arts titles quite a bit of effort has been put into the sound. The game doesn't include the actors from the movies for the voice work, but the stand-ins do a very acceptable job. The music is taken straight from the movie and is comprised of wonderful orchestral music.

This game is much more enjoyable then the previous Harry Potter games, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a great game. Yes, it has adequate graphics. Yes, the gameplay is functional. Yes, it follows the plot of the book and movie. The problem is that it's still quite a stale game that is obviously aimed at the younger audience. The problem is that the movies, and you can see by their monsterous grosses also appeal to older audiences, something which this game will struggle to do. is certainly one for the Harry Potter fans.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSNice models and locations but very average animations on players.
SOUNDOrchestral sound and adequate voice overs ensure adequate quality.
GAMEPLAYToo easy and requiring better AI, but it's an enjoyable title.
VALUEPlenty of mini-games and Eye Toy Support, but you won't play twice.
OVERALLThis could really be classed as a "safe" game. Electronic Arts haven't taken any risks but they know their audience and have modified the game to suit them. Easily the best Harry Potter game to date.

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