Review by Tricky

Reviewed: 07/14/04

Not bad, a few good things, but alas overshaded by some flaws

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

With this game the third story of Harry Potter has been put into a computer game. Since the 3rd book of the Harry Potter series is by far my personal favorite, I was really waiting with great anticipation about this game. Alas I need to say I'm a little disappointed. Let me go into the deep of things to tell you why

Gameplay
Here lies the biggest flaw of the game. And that's a true pity, if we take in consideration we got a few nice expansions. To start with a good part is that we can now aside from Harry also control Ron and Hermione, and all three have one unique spell to use. What I didn't like about this is that you cannot choose yourself whether you want to play with Harry, Ron or Hermione. The computer decides that for you.

The terrible point however lies in the "Required Achievements". This game is not just the object to end the story well, but to complete all required achievements. Some are hell to finish with as a result the game will start to bore the hell out of you once the story is completed. And the story is terribly short, those achievements were only put in to hide the fact that the game is so short.

Another thing is that Hippogriff flying is in the required list. It was nice if it were a bonus part, but not as a required part.

And so I can name a few others.

Story
The original story was my favorite in the series, so I knew I could expect nothing but disappointment from that since the game creators had to cut in the story terribly. And many vital parts the book has are not covered in the game. Pity.

Graphics
For some reason my brand new 3D card was deemed "too old" by this game and thus it choose to do software rendering. Why my card was "too old" will remain an eternal puzzle, but it leaves me nothing then to judge the graphics with the software rendering which I can call nothing but "crap". Of course it cannot match the graphics as they would be with a 3D card, but this is really bad. Some textures are not shown and leave nothing but a black field, giving me an almost empty screen to walk in, some textures become really ugly when on a distance and so
on. It's better than nothing I suppose. I must also say that some things (like the chocolate frogs for example) look way better in the old games, even with a 3D card.

Sound
The sound is not super, but acceptable. The music has some very good tunes, but the sound effects are acceptable, but not outstanding.

Some technical aspects
The game takes very much Hard disk space, this may obviously be to save time during running the game. However the loading times are still unacceptable. It takes so long to load between two locations of the game, that you can easily fix yourself a can of coffee between loading new locations or whatever else you have to do. Taking 5 minutes to load a new location is no exception.

Play time/Replayability
A huge part of the play time lies in the loading time, and doing some boring stuff to get your requirements in order. If you ask me that won't encourage you to play the game again.

Final Recommendation
The game has some good basics, and you'll easily start to play if you played the previous games. However the game does not reach the level of the first two games. Buying the game is not a waste of money, but game as a few terrible flaws you have to learn to live with.

Rating: 6/10

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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