By Jeff Jensen
Updated July 22, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
Courtesy of Electronic Arts Inc.

Wii, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, PC, Mac, PSP, Nintendo DS

Finally! A videogame offering the vicarious thrill of…attending high school. Bullies, tedious classwork, sweaty intramural sports, and flush-faced adolescent flirting — grade-A fun, no? Of course, this is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry we’re talking about, and sarcasm aside, EA’s adaptation of Harry Potter and the Hafl-Blood Prince (the movie, not the book) deserves high marks for conjuring an impressive you-are-there illusion. Players can stroll from the Gryffindor common room all the way to the Quidditch pitch — a journey that takes you down the moving staircase, through the Herbology greenhouse, and into the clock tower and farther still. The re-creation is well rendered, but alas, while you can walk it, you can’t touch. Once a Potter game allows for real interactivity with the Hogwarts environment, it will have graduated to genuine magic.

The rest is just okay. The game — way easy and kid-friendly, save maybe for Ron’s frequent use of ”Bloody hell!” — is fat with stiffly animated ”cut scenes” of Harry and friends, and thin on challenging gameplay. The follow-the-leader potions-making games are drudgery, but the spell-casting duels will get yout Muggle blood pumping, especially if you’re using a Wii wand. I eagerly anticipate the day when voice-activated technology is added into the mix and you can ”Stupefy!” by actually yelling ”Stupefy!” That’s the thing with this Prince” For better or worse, it’s good enough to get you dreaming about an even cooler Harry Potter game that could come someday. B

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