By Shaan Khan (16/09/21)
Courtesy of Ravenclaw on Reddit
When movies adapted into video games were done right. Not where you steal the likeliness of characters and environments then throw them onto a 2D side scroller. Movies capture the realities of 3D and to feel like I’m in Hogwarts, you need 3D graphics, physics and art design that are all authentic to the world—Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on the PS2 was just that. A stellar classic built from the ground up to tell the 1-to-1 story of its counterpart movie but in an interactive way with additional storylines on top.
Being immersed is what I remembered as a kid playing the Harry Potter games; re-enacting movie scenes through gameplay gave more gravitas to the source material. I could honestly feel like how it was to be Harry Potter when sneaking into the restriction area or facing off against the fully-grown mountain troll in the girl’s bathroom to save Hermione.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a video game within the series that I hadn’t visited, but right off the bat when playing through the first scene, the game has you hurling dwarfs into the air, a spell that turns a washing machine violent and sentient, which you must battle! Finally, the immediate reference to chocolate frogs and jellybeans—all invoking a sense that I’m in for a fun and nostalgic ride from developers that know all too well what makes the Harry Potter universe what it is.
Spells to this game is what guns are to Call of Duty; they’re intrinsic. Throughout the wizardly adventure, you’re acquiring, constructing & conjuring spells; there’s many to add to your repertoire and of course, more creativity to what they can do opposed to metal machines and their shooting bullets.
With such a wide selection of spells, simply hitting the X, □ or O buttons isn’t going to conjure them all, so combo inputs are available, offering a well-invited skill gap to the game that’s honest to the source material since its no walk in the park to hit off any spell that you want, its why there is a school for wizardry in the first place. There’s access to training in the game to get you used to making spells for when you need to use them in the story.
In total, there are 8 spells you can unlock; that’s more than other Harry Potter games where you only have 6.
Boss battles are unique to the core gameplay experience since you’re not just freely aiming and summoning spells with the wand. You’ll have to focus on highlighted weak spots on the enemy and at times, get caught up in a game of tennis with a dangerous spell projectile to see who can overpower who first.
Map & Environment
Even to this present-day, the world of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is both impressive in terms of scale and detail. Hogwarts can be explored for hours; you can search for collectables such as silver sickles and admire all the weird and quirky spaces, such as the endless stairway with endless paintings of wizards all over the walls. The subtle sombre of winding corridors and unlit areas is captured perfectly; it sets the mood for stealthy gameplay as you try not to get caught and uncover secret passages.
Courtesy of Tom Owens on Keengamer.com
The soundtrack offers ambience and smoothly transitions to match the style of gameplay, whether it be action-filled or stealthy.
However, an annoyance for most modern gamers playing this will be dealing with the painfully slow loading times that constantly bother you when you’re going from room to room.
As you adventure Hogwarts, there’s nothing quite as exciting than turning up to the Quidditch pitch for the first time. You can’t ask for a better minigame. Mount onto your broomstick, chase the snitch, and make it through all the rings for the highest score. The controls are unsteady and rightfully so, although it only takes a moderate amount of focus not to miss, not how I remembered it as a sweaty-palmed kid feeling ecstatic that I made it through every ring!
Courtesy of Monmi90 on YouTube
Every level and minigame comes with a ranked challenge to compete with yourself for the highest score. Also, your scores will go towards your house and it’s the geeky child in you that cares to beat out those pesky Slytherins to obtain bragging rights.
Story, Lore & Cutscenes
While loading times are a farce, they don’t intervene as much with the transitions between cutscenes and gameplay like they do loading into new areas. In fact, they’re smooth to make you appreciate the cinematic nature of the game’s flow. Sadly, cutscenes are not skippable so it can be annoying when you need to restart a level.
Aside from the relevant cultural references to the Harry Potter movies spread out all around the map, you can also uncover Wizard cards that build upon the lore by giving you background information on 101 Wizards in total!
With the new Harry Potter RPG game in development by Avalanche Studios, the 2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (PS2) is a good game to revisit to rekindle your connection with the series and get you excited for what lies ahead for the future of Harry Potter in gaming.
However, if you lack patience, then this game’s outdated elements will frustrate you, such as coming across a dozen stacked barrels and only being able to destroy one at a time to secure collectables! It’s tedious and so is constantly having to refocus the camera each time you turn and those loading screens…oh, how I’m happy loading screens are fading out of existence within next-gen gaming.
- Casting spells as combat gameplay
- Detailed world to explore
- Authentic to the source material
- Annoying camera controls
- Long loading times
- Tedious gameplay to uncover collectables
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