Chamber of secrets ps2 is almost the perfect harry potter game : patientgamers

The Harry Potter license is one of the biggest in the world. Millions of readers have enjoyed the books. The same number flocked to see the first movie when it debuted last year and even more are likely be to turn out in long lines for the second. So it makes perfect sense that uber publisher Electronic Arts shelled out big bucks to exclusively bring Potter and his friends to next-generation consoles. That's good and fine, but what of the big question: does the boy wizard's transition to videogames do the franchise justice? As die hard fans of the series, we're happy to report that the answer is a triumphant yes. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for Xbox is not without flaws, but it's still a polished, fun, inventive 3D adventure game that shouldn't be missed by any Potter fan.

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Confront the mysteries of the Chamber of Secrets with advanced second-year magic, challenging quests and dangerous adversaries Greater depth -- featuring Wizard duels, Vari-Power spells, Quidditch leagues and more Take Flight -- hop on your Nimbus Two Thousand and freely explore Hogwarts in full 3D Take part in the same exciting moments found in the book including the Whomping Willow, the Dueling Club and a confrontation in the Chamber of Secrets Come face-to-face with huge creatures like Aragog the spider Play alongside recognizable friends Hermione and Ron, along with new faces like Moaning Myrtle and Professor Lockhart A robust 3D game engine from Eurocom that runs at 60 frames per second 5.1 Dolby Digital

Gameplay The Chamber of Secrets, developed skillfully by Eurocom Entertainment, closely follows the book and movie of the same name. It's Harry's second year at Hogwarts and he's got all new hardships to deal with, from finding the necessities for schooling at Diagon Alley to battling it out in the new season of Quidditch and more. To make matters worse, something's been let loose in the school and it's slowly but surely going after the occupants and killing them. It isn't long before Potter is wrapped up in the mess and even shorter before the whole school is abuzz with theories on how he could be the murderer. All of this is told through various in-game cut-scenes that guide the adventure along. It's up to players, as Potter, to work closely with best friends Hermione and Ron and not only survive the daily affairs at Hogwarts, but also solve the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets.

Eurocom has done a commendable job of really using the license, which so many games fail to do properly. The developer has not only modeled the entire Diagon Alley, complete with all of the shops from The Leaky Cauldron (with underground dungeon) and Flourish and Blotts to The Magical Menagerie and Mr. Mullpepper's Apothecary, but it's also created an immense, fully 3D, realistic Hogwarts. The school is gargantuan, filled with rooms from the Grand Staircase to the various classrooms, library, Herbology Greenhouse and even the Slytherin Dungeon. For Potter fans, this is something of a godsend. It's possible to simply get caught up and explore the various pieces of the universe for hours on end, and this doesn't even speak of all of the quests, character building attributes, enemy and ally interactions, and mini-games -- all of them also neatly sewn into the overall adventure. At one point, gamers are even rewarded with a working Nimbus Two Thousand and they can use it to freely fly around and explore the entire hub world of Hogwarts, soaring above the very highest castle peak or zooming through the architectural tunnels on the way to Harry's next class. It's awesome.

The downside to this type of immense undertaking, though, is that many of the areas are connected by way of load times. Each new massive room needs to be loaded. So, for instance, if Potter runs from the Gryffindor Common Room to the Grand Staircase, there is a 10-second pause involved, and then more loading when players venture into the next separate area. It's frustrating as it happens often and it breaks players temporarily from the universe.


The control scheme for The Chamber of Secrets couldn't be more user-friendly. Harry moves precisely with the analog stick. The A button is used as a general action execution, from opening doors to interacting with schoolmates. Meanwhile the X, Y and B buttons can be used for various spells by players. L button is used to center the camera and to lock onto enemies (you can then easily dodge in all directions) and R offers a free look mode to check out the various environments. Jumping is automatic. The scheme is highly intuitive and we're very glad Eurocom chose to go with it. On top of everything else, Harry can perform a number of environment sensitive moves, from sneaking around walls (a la Metal Gear Solid) to shimmying across ledges and more, and all of these work without a hitch as well. It all feels very tight and proper. When the case calls for a different scheme -- flying around on the Nimbus Two Thousand, for instance, the developer has kept it simple: A makes the broom zoom around, X offers a speed boost, and the analog stick controls the direction. As a result, it's quickly learned and likewise feels great.

Of course, the meat and potatoes of the game are its many quests and the often-connected spells that Harry acquires as a result. Each day at Hogwarts is a different one and the game knows this better than any. During the morning and afternoon, Harry goes to class and learns to do spells, or plays in fast-paced games of Quidditch. Usually learning a spell in class is more or less an adventure in and of itself, as the character must make it through a puzzle-heavy quest presented by his teacher. If he successfully completes it, a new spell is waiting at the end, and later in the game that magic can be used to defeat another barrier. It's smart, tried and true game The puzzles are not quite as tricky as they could be, but they're probably more difficult and easily more satisfying than the lot featured in most adventure games -- certainly any targetted at a younger audience. The challenges often test the very skill of the player, with lots of platform jumping, shimmying, and the proper usage of the correct spell to make it past an object or enemy -- it's good old-fashioned action adventuring and Potter fans are sure to love it. Meanwhile, by night Harry explores the very grounds of Hogwarts, journeys into dungeons, and must usually retrieve some sort of spell or book at the request at his demanding, but rather useless friends Hermione and Ron. There's a real sense of atmosphere as the character runs along dark dungeons, illuminated only by one of his spells, and it's here that the occasional dark and moody cut-scene interrupts the action to forward the story. It's very well done.

Then, the spells. Potter can cast magic to knock enemies and objects backward; to temporarily light up areas; to rip apart materials, ropes and plants; to repel spells at opponents; to clean up ectoplasm that blocks doorways and areas; to turn small objects into birds, to transform and more. The spells are fabulous, ripped directly out of the books, and have a real bearing in the game universe. As players progress through Hogwarts, they will notice several areas that they can't reach because they don't have the correct spell, so there's always the incentive to get it, come back, and explore beyond the previous blockage. Again, it's classic and it works. The fact that these spells can be quickly to buttons makes using them all the more intuitive, too.

The Chamber of Secrets is, in fact, deeper than readers probably realize. First, there is the overall mystery to solve, which spans several major quests and spells. This alone will last gamers a good number of hours. Then there are the Quidditch matches, which have a bearing on the character's abilities and points. Beyond these, there are collectible cards that detail all of the characters in the universe that are earned and found throughout the adventure. Every 10 cards gains Harry more stamina, a nice plus. There are also lots of mini-games, from dunking gnomes in water to competing in contests to see how far one can throw them. There are even various races on broomstick.

As far as single-player adventure games go, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is one of the more compelling ones on Xbox. The title doesn't bring a whopping amount of innovation to the table, but it does at least know what works. If more licenses could materialize as videogames this solid, the world would be a better place. Graphics Eurocom has done a magnificent job of capturing the look and style of the Harry Potter universe for Xbox owners. The Chamber of Secrets is a feat in terms of realizing the locales from the books and movies. Diagon Alley looks like Diagon Alley. Hogwarts looks like Hogwarts. And all of the characters look exactly as they should. It's really that simple. But for the purposes of this review, let's go into a little more detail.

An impressive 3D engine spits out large, detailed environments to realize the worlds and atmosphere of the Potter universe. As players explore Diagon Alley, they will notice that Gringrotts Bank stretches seemingly forever into the sky, and that the architecture of the white building is slightly misshapen, a little crooked, just as it is in the movie. The alley itself is filled with wizardry folk and features all of the famous shops, modeled inside and out, in intricate detail. The art sense is excellent. Levels are very colorful, crisply textured and look great.

Meanwhile Hogwarts is a beast. There's so much to see that it's a feat in itself. Everything is modeled. Everything. One of the more impressive visual displays, though, is the hub world itself, which at one point Potter can zoom around in his broomstick. As players soar above the castles and look around the huge world, everything runs silky smooth and looks fabulous.

The game uses a number of tricks to realize huge cathedrals that display different shades of color on Potter as he runs through the ambient locales. There are areas that are fully dark until illuminated by a series of real-time lighting effects. There are beautiful mirror and floor reflections, transparencies, and advanced particle effects for everything from smoke to fire and spell work. The camera is generally very solid, shooting the action from the appropriate direction -- and the L-trigger lock-on system can be used to right the angle whenever players want. On the other hand, some of the stealth areas where Harry must sneak by prefects require the use of the right thumbstick to see, and these are occasionally a little bothersome as it's hard to center the right angle needed.

Meanwhile the character is of course top and the animation brilliant. Harry, Ron and Hermione move with cartoon-like fluidity, with detailed animation for everything from running to jumping, shimmying, hanging, falling down and more. It all looks great. Some of the facial animations and such are highlighted in the various cut-scenes, which are likewise very well done.

So what's our gripe? Uh, well, we don't really have many. Thanks to the power of Xbox, Chamber is scant framerate drops. But for all that beauty, some of the texture blur up close and Eurocom hasn't managed to wipe away all of the jaggies, though the majority of the game looks as smooth as a babies rump. Quite simply, The Chamber of Secrets is a handsome, colorful game filled with amazing detail and beautiful lighting.


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Sound Top form. The game capitalizes on the license for a virtual ton of voice acting, great sound effects, and inspirational music. From the various dialogues between Harry, Hermione and Ron to the background announcing at the Quidditch matches, the sound quality is excellent, the voice acting superb. It's so well done that it often sounds like the real voices of the Potter actors from the films (but it's not). Cut-scenes are well delivered, made all the more moody and atmospheric by haunting background music and monstrous voices from beyond. With such high quality aural delivery, it's not hard to succumb to the storyline of The Chamber of Secrets, as readers of the books will know is a good one. All of this comes in 5.1 Dolby Digital and the sound is spaced beautifully so that footsteps from behind and to the right of your come from the proper speaker. A break job artistically and technically.

You never know what to expect from a videogame based on a popular license. But, to me, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets hasn"t fallen victim to any of the unfortunate failings that become so many of these types of games. It"s, in fact, a very well done 3D adventure game filled with a fun quest, challenging puzzles and an intuitive control scheme and magic system. It reminds me a lot of Zelda, actually, which is a great thing. That"s not to say it"s perfect. Some of the puzzles lack the intensity of those in Zelda and there is a level of redundancy in some of the challenges, but for the most part it"s all still something of an addiction.I think that just about anybody will get his or her money"s worth with this game. But for genuine Potter fans, this is an absolute must buy. The way in which developer Eurocom has brought Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Quidditch and the cast of the Potter books to life in videogame form is brilliant. There is so much to see and do in the Harry Potter universe here that the game is practically a virtual library of Potter related locations, items, and characters. And the topper is that the Chamber of Secrets storyline is presented with equal flair and detail.A shining example of how licenses should be realized in videogame form. Do not pass up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Highly recommended.