Potter gets played

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
EA Games

Movie-based video games are but a facet of the corporate entertainment marketing machine. See, movie studios pay millions to marketing firms to produce a surplus of hype — commercials, newspaper ads, billboards, press etc. This, in turn, translates to free advertising for the game developer fortunate enough to land a film's licensing rights. The formula works; according to marketing research group NPD, the first two Spiderman video games grossed $300 million total — record numbers at the box office, record numbers for film's licensee, EB Games.

But, the video games often receive piss-poor reviews and are little more than extended movie teasers. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is no different. The game follows Harry's descent into the Dark Arts — fighting skills. Accompanied by the bumbling Ron Weasley and egghead, super-witch Hermoine Granger, gamers scour Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, performing defensive magic while recruiting an army. (It's kind of like Kiss Army only less obsessed with the cunnilingus skills of its leader.) EA's virtual Hogwarts is damn impressive but by the 15th trip down the Castle's grand staircase and through the all-too-similar corridors, it gets tiresome.

HPATOOTP quickly becomes a game of fetch between game and gamer. In short, the Phoenix's gameplay is suffocated by plot molding and movie teasers. Then again, EA is aware critics, like myself, will give the game a shit review, but why should they care? You'll buy it anyway.

Dustin Walsh is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]