Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review


It’s been quite a long time since I could say that a Harry Potter game was pretty good but this one finally did it. It solved all of the big issues I had with the last few games like increasing movement speed, finetuning the battle controls, and actually having a sensible plot. There are still many things keeping this from being a Great game, but I would say it got everything I needed to at least call it pretty good.

With Voldemort approaching more and more, Harry and Dumbledore need to find out where he hid the pieces of his soul. Harry will need to question one of the teachers since they had a history. Additionally, Harry has found a spellbook that seems to have the answer to everything. Is there something shady about this book and is it ethical to use this to ace classes? Those are just some of the questions that Harry will have to answer as he goes through his next adventure.

So lets jump right to the gameplay. There are a few different variations here. The main one here is about running through the castle to get to where you need to be. Unlike the other games where this took eons, you can run anywhere very quickly. You also have an interactive ghost who you can follow to automatically get to the next area instead of having to open a map each time. This was an excellent quality of life update. You also get to shake objects to grab extra crests which power up your moves. I’ll admit that this is the weakest aspect of the gameplay. What should be easy to do is grabbing a shield out of the air but it takes a lot of trial and error.

That said, at times you’ll wonder why you are always running around. I do think there has to be a way for the game to make you feel like there’s more of a purpose to this. Maybe just give you the broom full time so you can fly around or something. Otherwise, you are technically running through the same walls and rooms over and over again which is a bit repetitive. The increased speed and the short length of the game means that this doesn’t really drag on or anything…but it still just feels a bit aimless at times.

The next gameplay style is making potions using the pot. I’ll admit this does take some decent skill after a point since the game punishes you very hard for making even a single mistake. That said, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick. Just know that the game controls are incredibly sensitive so a single movement can have more impact than you might have thought at first glance. The weakest style is Quidditch. It’s a shame because I usually look forward to that style but it’s just rather boring. The only thing you can do is move the control stick as you fly through the rings. That’s it. You can’t go slower or faster so the game is practically on auto pilot.

The best gameplay style is the combat. You get into a lot of one on one duels. Here you fight the opponents with magical spells such as a quick blast, barrier, spell that turns you upside down, and a spell that knocks you to the ground. You have to think carefully about which spell to use and when. Personally I say it’s always worth it to use the last two spells because you can then spam your blasts as they try to get up or back down and it deals a ton of damage. The combat is a little simple but with the ability to dodge and run, I would say it felt pretty balanced. It was a lot more fun than you would initially have expected and it’s an improvement over the last title’s combat system.

The graphics are definitely still sub par though. This really feels like the same animations from the last game so not a lot has changed. Same for the gameplay graphics so it’s clear that no extra development time is going here. If that all went into the gameplay then it was worth it but surely the game could have looked a little better than this if the developers went all out. At least the soundtrack is really solid as always, I’d expect no less.

The game is very short though. You should have this completed in around 5 hours or so. After that, then I suppose you can try to get all of the trophies and crests. That should buy you some time. I wouldn’t say it will buy you a ton of time or anything like that, but enough to help you justify the cost. Play through all the challenges and you’ll feel better. This game can be a little overpriced nowadays so if it’s 30 or more then it could be a tough sell. It’s fun, just short so that’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the better Harry Potter games. I feel like the series has finally started to find its roots again. Bringing back the magical platforming and fighting combat while sprucing them up is the way to go about things. I would definitely say the biggest thing the game needs to fix next is Quidditch though. I didn’t think you could make the gameplay for such a high energy sport boring but this game managed to pull it off somehow. It’s actually a little impressive, in a sad kind of way. If you like the Harry Potter series then you should definitely enjoy this. This could be the last Harry Potter game I play for a while but it’s been a good run.

Overall 7/10

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Stats and Records

Stats time!

Total Game Completed 49%
Total Discovery Points 630/4360
Portrait Passwords 16%
Ghosts 2/4
Flying Creatures 4/5
Characters Met 57/58
Chess Players beaten 0/3
Exploding Snap players beaten 1/2
Gobstones Players Beaten 0/4
Luna’s belongings found 0/5
Fred and George Packages 2/12
Chess statues 1/12
Wizard Plaques 0/15
Animal Footprints 3/3
Teacher Mini Quests 0/4
Top Grade 0/3
Defensive Spells in 1 encounter 5/6
Tidied up Hogwarts 6/66
Hogwart Insignias 4/12

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Review


Harry Potter has had a very interesting history over the years when it comes to video games. On one hand, most of the original games were actually pretty decent. You had some fun gameplay and a good assortment of levels. On the other hand, we then got the Goblet of Fire which was a very weak game. How does this one stack up? Well, I wouldn’t say it stacks up super well. My main issue here is that at times it feels less like a game and more like you’re watching a bunch of cutscenes. The final boss is effectively just about moving your wand a bit to try and psych out the opponent. That doesn’t feel like a real boss battle.

The plot of the game is a little crazy when you think about it because of how random everything is. So everyone knows that Voldemort is coming but the school doesn’t allow people to practice their magic spells anymore. Harry decides to start teaching people subtlety but to do that he will have to recruit everyone into the army. Over half of the game is about assembling the team as you complete a lot of missions and get used to the place. Let me tell you, I did not expect this to be such a big focus in the game. It’s a unique development choice I suppose.

This is a 3D adventure kind of game as far as the gameplay is concerned. There is a pretty big hub world to explore but I’m not sure you’ll really be planning to do a whole lot of that anyway. Most of the time you was wondering from place to place. Fortunately you do have a map to help you locate students and locations, however it doesn’t help for a few missions like where you have to find a bunch of stone gargoyles on the premises. That was easily the toughest mission in the game because of how big the hub world is. In a sense you have to hope you get lucky and you can probably see straight up why this would not be a good idea.

To break up the monotony you can engage in some minigames though. Honestly they are probably better than the main game. One of these games is one of those memory match titles where you have to recall what cards were flipped over and then select them. I always tended to enjoy these back in the day. There are other minigames like Chess and such here that I didn’t really try out but look pretty fun from what I’ve seen. The issue is that the main gameplay style isn’t great. If I had to make a comparison, it’s like a second rate Telltale Game but those have the fun gimmick of making choices during the game. This one has none of that.

The graphics definitely aren’t great. It doesn’t quite look PS3 level that’s for sure. You can tell that any effort that was put into the game was not put into the graphics department. Those guys were really left by their lonesome. The soundtrack is good though. It’s still got that very regal style to it which works very well. It’s memorable which is good and can at least make you feel like you’re about to play something hype…for a little while anyway.

The game isn’t too long. I beat it in around 5 hours. You can definitely bump that up a bit if you do the side missions and knock out the minigames too though. I don’t think you would bump up the playtime a ton though since it’s not like there were a lot of bonus missions. When I beat the game there were only 3-4 left and I can tell you that I did not go out of my way to do any of them.

In a sense I would say Order of the Phoenix feels like a very unfinished game. It’s almost like an extended demo in some ways. After playing Half Blood Prince you’ll see what the completed version is like. I would say this game had a great setup going but it just didn’t. The wand mechanics for moving things around and firing off energy blasts wasn’t even close to being streamlined. Additionally, the walking around took forever. Occasionally the kids would ask you to climb up somewhere to grab something so you’d have to very slowly climb up to the top and then back down.

At the end of the day, what this game is missing are qualify of life upgrades. Something to make the game more fun. Faster run speeds, a smaller hub world, things of that nature. All of those would result in a significantly better game that would run well and would also just be fun. That is the absolute best case scenario. So while the game isn’t as bad as the last one and I wouldn’t even call it a bad game upfront, it’s just not a lot of fun to play. There isn’t any compelling reason to play this game while other, better options exist. It’s for those reasons that I would say it is best to just skip this one entirely.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had potential but the game just didn’t live up to it. It’s impressive how big they made the castle here but they should have added more shortcuts or something. Not having any Quidditch was pretty bad too since that used to be a lot of fun. You get the idea that they just phoned this game in. Honestly it’s not really all that uncommon for movie based games which is a shame. They deserve a better reputation but instances like this absolutely don’t help their case. I already beat the next game though so I’ll have a review for that one pretty soon. Good news is that it’s a lot better and starts to get us back to how this game series should be.

Overall 5/10

Warriors Orochi 3 Review


Warriors Orochi has always been a pretty fun series. There was a huge gap between when I played the first two Orochi titles but this time I was determined not to wait so long. I took the plunge and grabbed Orochi 3. Fortunately the PS3 is region free so that worked out pretty nicely. Orochi 3 definitely has a very strong plot and it features time travel so that’s a win win. It’s certainly the best Orochi game so far.

The game starts off with Orochi returning but this time as the Hydra. This 8 headed dragon crushes the entire planet to the point where within 10 minutes of the game’s start there are only 3 heroes left alive. The rest of the Dynasty and Samurai warriors cast have been obliterated. This desperate mission ends in failure but the heroes are saved by a goddess known as Kaguya. She has the ability to time travel part of the way into the past but not so far back that we can prevent Orochi from returning. Using this bonus time we have to alert everyone to the true danger and bring the world to an era of peace. Then we will return to the place of the final battle only this time we will have more of a full roster at the ready. Can the heroes stop Orochi once and for all?

I love crossovers, beat em ups, and time travel. Mix all of that into one game and it’s not surprising in the slightest that this is an absolute win. First off, the story is just very grand in scope. Seeing this dragon show up and just decimate the cast was intense. Especially since these characters are all quite powerful in their own right. It may be a little hard to buy that they would all lose like this but when you factor in that they’re always fighting among themselves they probably were weakened by this point. While the game ends with everyone finally being at peace, something tells me that won’t last for the sequel.

The main campaign is fairly long at 29 levels and there is a good amount of replay value here as well with all of the bonus levels to tackle as well. Getting everyone to level 100 will take ages too although I don’t think there’s a trophy for that so no need to force yourself. There are over 100 characters after all so that’d be pretty crazy. By the time I beat the game I only had 1 person at level 100 so I think it’s safe to say that getting everyone over there would just be too long. I’d say the story mode is maybe around 7-8 hours. I didn’t count exactly and they don’t store the playtime but that sounds about right to me.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard 3D combat system so you will know what to expect. You rush into battle and slam into enemies using both standard and power attacks. You have super attacks as well but I recommend keeping that in your pocket as a combo breaker in case a boss lays a good hit on you. Typically they go down pretty quickly but if they do start a combo they can take off huge chunks of your health in an instant. You definitely want to respect their power and keep some distance between you and the boss. At least I would recommend that.

One of the most handy tools at your disposal is your horse. I recommend summoning him as much as possible so you can run through the battlefields at top speed. Doing this will help you reach your objectives quicker. After all, aside from conquering enemies you also have to protect your comrades. My strategy in each level was to knock out all of the officers but mainly not worry about the minions. I would still average around 1000 KO’s per stage so those come naturally but getting rid of the officers is key or your allies will end up defeated and you will have to start the level from scratch. Let me tell you, you do not want to start the level from scratch to be sure.

Naturally the graphics for this game are absolutely stellar. The character models are on point and the level designs are really striking. This is the kind of PS3 game where you can tell they spared no expense. It could easily pass for a PS4 title. Likewise the soundtrack is excellent. It’s no surprise as the Orochi games tend to sound quite excellent but this one really manages to even go above and beyond. The battle themes really get you into the action so you feel ready for what comes next.

When you’re not fighting there are still other bonus things you can do as well. One of those is buying new weapons or fusing your older ones into weapons with more slots and abilities. Your weapon is quite important in this game so I recommend working on that right away. Don’t worry about the money it costs because by the end of the game you’ll be swimming in it. At the very least there was never a point in the game where I was low on funds. There is also the tea shop where you can increase your bonds with the other characters but I never really tried that out. I think the bonds mechanic increases your strength when you fight with allies but admittedly I never really tried this out. I tend to run ahead of the others to try and shield them from danger while also getting the fun fights for myself.

Overall, Warriors Orochi 3 is fantastic. It’s a top tier game filled with a lot of life and action. The story is a lot of fun, the graphics are top notch, and so is the soundtrack. There’s a lot of replay value here and the gameplay is a blast. You can easily have fun just playing the levels over and over again. I can see how people would sink dozens and dozens of hours into these games. It would make for a fun ride to try and platinum it, but the trophy for beating all of the levels on chaos difficulty sounds a bit daunting. Maybe someday. Now just one more Orochi game and I’ll finally be caught up!

Overall 9/10

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review


After playing the first game in the Dragon series I was expecting pretty big things here. Unfortunately it just wasn’t to be. The sequel really ended up fumbling the ball here. The main issue is that the gameplay has been completely changed so now you’re riding a dragon in a very limited environment over and over again with no story. So this feels like more of a free to play minigame than an actual title. If they had only kept the cool action combat from the first game then this could have had potential.

So the game starts off with showing you how to fly. You fly around the world in 3D. You can go up, left, right, and down. You can fire off fireballs as well and during the races you can use items to boost or throw things at people. That’s the extent of the gameplay. So what’s the goal of the game? Presumably it’s to play all of the tournaments and events but they just keep on spawning. There are trophies for getting golds in everything though so eventually they should end. Honestly what the game could have done right off the bat to make things more interesting would have been to just have added a little story here. Maybe a cutscene where the bully is teasing us for not being able to fly so well so the main character wants to prove him wrong. At least that gives you a reason to keep on playing since you have to show them what’s up. Without that in the mix, it just doesn’t feel the same.

There are 4 main kinds of minigames. The first is the classic ring challenge. You have to fly through a bunch of rings within a certain time frame. Fly through them all to get a perfect score or at least go through most of them in order to pass the challenge. It’s a very basic game and while it’s not bad, there’s just nothing to it. So having to do this over and over again isn’t exactly thrilling when you think about it. Next up is..more rings. This time you have to get to the goal at the end of the level and you fly through rings to extend the timer. You’ll want to fly through as many rings as possible so the timer doesn’t run out too quickly. I mean…it’s a different variation at least but I wouldn’t say there is too much to it.

Next up is a minigame where you have to try and blast cardboard cutouts of villains. You have to make sure not to blast heroic ones by mistake. The idea is to blast them all very quickly before the time runs out. This one is a little tricky with how many points they want you to grab. A few mistakes will definitely be too much for you to come back from so you will want to keep that in mind. Finally we have my least favorite minigame which is one where you have to pick up Sheep and deposit them either at the finish line or in their pen. It’s really hard to land to grab the Sheep without crashing. The game is quite sensitive about the crashes so when it happens the pilot is completely thrown off of the dragon and ends up crashing somewhere after a full cutscene. It’s certainly not something that you want to see happen but it’ll probably happen quite a bit by the time you’re done with this minigame.

Aside from the challenges then you will also encounter occasional tournaments. These basically just fuse the minigames together only now you are playing against computers. The A.I. is actually pretty good in these. Mix that in with all of the luck factors in the game such as items, and sheep spawning in the wrong places and you are going to have a tough time winning. Not that winning seems to matter though. Whether you come in first or last you progress to the next challenge on the list. At least that means the game is relatively low pressure right? It also means that each level feels like it doesn’t matter though which is an issue. The tournaments also feel a little too long. They may only have 5 events but they feel like they end up dragging on quite a lot.

For the first time since Ninjabread Man also expect to hear the same voice clips repeated forever and ever. The main character just can’t stop talking while you are flying on the dragon. He’s constantly yelling and panicking. If you’re in first then he’ll be bragging the whole time. Either way the actor seemed to only want to record around 5 lines or so which means that he has to keep running them on loop the whole time. Not the best way to handle things, in that cast the developers should have turned down the voices a bit. He shouldn’t need to talk all the time unless you can record a ton of lines.

As for the graphics, they’re okay I suppose. They haven’t really changed since the first game but at the same time it’s a bit hard to judge because there isn’t a lot to animate in general. Pretty much all of the levels take place in the exact same environment to the point where I feel like they started reusing backgrounds almost immediately. The hub world is rather small as well. At least that helps if you want to find all of the collectibles although without a map or anything that sounds a bit tedious at best. There isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of either so the film couldn’t even try to save itself that way.

It’s hard to say how long the game is since it just keeps on going and going. I played it for a few hours and I think that’s a reasonable point to stop. Of course if you do enjoy the game I suppose there is a decent amount of replay value to be found. For starters you can try to grab all of the PS3 trophies. Earning that Platinum seems like it won’t be too tough but that it will take some decent time so prepare for that. Beyond that I guess that’s about it.

Overall, How to Train Your Dragon 2 definitely just wasn’t on the same level as the first one. Gone are the fun dragon battles and all of the excitement that the first game left on the table. This title feels like the developers just didn’t know what to do with it. As a result the whole product suffered quite a bit. If they made a third game or if they ever make one, I hope it goes back to the combat gameplay of the first. If not, at least it should involve platforming and have some kind of story. Just being a minigame title without much variety with gameplay is a losing strategy.

Overall 5/10

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Stats and Records

Stats time!

Toothless Tokens 48%
Mouth on Fire 25%
Dragon Surfer 65%
Commander of the Skies 35%
Watch your Melon 37%
Fearless Rider 100%
Beard Trimmer 25%
Cave Dweller 14%
Skydiver 100%
Dizzy Rider 82%
Fire Breather 100%
Like A Chief 75%
Watch where you’re going 5%

How to Train a Dragon Stats and Records

PS3 Trophies 12/48
Play Time 3h 41m
Game Completion 57%
Money Earned 9520
Items Collected 231
Recipes 6
Animals Caught 22
Fight Record 21-0
Trainings Won 18

Mini Game High Scores

Ice Sculpting 95, 55, 35
Fire Torch 14 0 0
Quiz Challenge 7 1 0

Dragons

Night Fury Level 14
Hideous Zippleback Level 12
Cronckle Level 13
Monstrous Nightmare Level 12

Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice Review


It’s been a little while since I played Disgaea 2, but I’ve been meaning to jump into 3 for a while now. The strategic gameplay of the series is always a blast. It really brings you in for a big challenge from start to finish that’s for sure. You have to consider a lot of angles when playing. While the core story is definitely a bit weaker than the first two, it makes for a great game either way and one that you don’t want to miss.

The game starts by introducing us to Mao. He’s the son of the Overlord and his goal is to rise to that position by destroying his father. The reason he wants to do this is because the Overlord broke his video game console a while back. To that end, Mao has decided that he will need to figure out what powers a hero since heroes usually take the Overlord down. Once he is able to figure that out then he will be ready to roll. To that end he captures a hero named Almaz and steals his title. Now, this gets a little meta and the game isn’t afraid to break the 4th wall but bear with me here. So effectively everyone has a title which actually affects how you act and think. Now that Almaz’s title has been taken he is slowly becoming a demon. He has to find a way to get into Mao’s heart (Which is located as basically a department store that you can walk into) to steal his title back. Will either of the characters get what they want?

Most of the game takes place at school or on campus as Mao tries to locate how to find a lot of power. Heroes are almost mythical in the demon world because of how rarely they appear. Everything is backwards in this world so to be an honor student you need to keep on cutting class and just being mean while the delinquents are people who attend class and are nice to others. It’s a fun dynamic and there are 3 little minions who show up in basically every chapter of the game to try and cause trouble. They’re always fun to have around for sure.

As a main character Mao is decent. He has his entertaining moments and I do like that he is always trying to set the record straight that he has no friends. The guy has a lot of secrets and a fascination with live experimentation so even by the end he isn’t a true hero. Still, he does end up fighting with the villains so you are at least glad to have him on your side at the very least. Almaz is the other main hero and he’s pretty fun. His plot is about getting Princess Sapphire to finally notice him but he is content to stay in the shadows until he works up the courage. He protects her from a distance and all. A one way romance like this can always be rough but at least the demons aren’t too hard on him about this.

Sapphire is a solid Princess though and one of the better ones of recent years. She has the brilliant idea of going to destroy the Overlord before he even thinks of kidnapping her. That’s pretty proactive so I can certainly get behind that. Princess Peach should consider capturing Bowser next time instead of waiting for the inevitable. She can fight which is always a pretty good skill to have as well. Her super strength punch and Buzzsaw even scare Mao at times.

Mao’s rival is a solid character as well. As leader of the delinquents you’d expect nothing less. One supporting character who could be annoying most of the time was the cook though. Literally all of his lines are using food lingo. I can appreciate good puns and all but I felt like he would never actually get to the point so he didn’t really serve much of a purpose at times. He gets a lot of hype and is apparently super strong but the game doesn’t do much with that concept.

As an RPG there are tons of other characters of course but those are the big ones. You’ll enjoy the story, there’s a lot going on. For the gameplay, it’s the same as in previous titles. You control up to 9 characters and maneuver them through a chess board of sorts. The idea is to take out the opponent fighters. Sometimes this will be straight forward and you just run to take them out while at other times there are a bunch of obstacles to get past. The levels become more like a puzzle as you have to decide how to attack the enemy. A good strategy is just as important as your level ups here.

The game holds nothing back so you will likely need to go replay levels a bunch before clearing the game. It’s difficult to level everyone up here since only the character who beats the enemy gets the level up this time. So by the end of the game I had 4 really strong fighters and my other guys were scrubs. It was worth it though. Then you want to save money to buy excellent equipment. The equipment will really come in handy since it boosts your stats massively. For example you can switch out your weapon with 100 attack power for one with 700 and suddenly you’re blasting through everyone. The toughest part is always choosing between buying a new weapon or new armor. I always prioritized weapons first since it makes the grinding quicker but ultimately you will need armor or you will fall. My strategy is to sell off all the equipment of all my other fighters and only stick to 4 but of course this is risky. It’s a great way to raise funds short term though.

There’s a whole lot of depth to the gameplay as you can also upgrade attacks here. Doing so makes them more powerful but drastically costs more magic meter as well so sometimes getting it too strong can actually be a bad thing. Then you can go to class to have the students give you money or unlock more levels at the shop. There is definitely a whole lot to consider here. The main story took me over 20 hours and there is a sizable post game story as well. This game can easily last you 50+ hours so there is a ton of replay value here. I would definitely recommend sticking with it

Naturally the soundtrack is also pretty solid. You’ll recognize a theme or two from the original game in addition to the new ones. Then you’ve got the solid graphics which go all out with the special attacks as always. It really knows how to make everything look really high tier. I do low key wish you could skip the cinematics on the special moves eventually since it takes up some time but I suppose after putting so much effort into the attacks they don’t want people just skipping them each time.

Overall, Disgaea 3 is a solid way to end the trilogy. The game has a lot of heart and depth to it. It’s a very complete RPG that excels in all areas. While I would say that the first two defeated it, you’ll definitely be invested in the game. It may be very difficult but you always feel like you have hope even if you need to go back and earn some more level ups again. Sometimes that’s just something you have to do. Going back to get stronger is a noble quest at all times.

Overall 8/10

Midnight Club: Los Angeles Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 20h 13m
Total Game Complete 70%
Total Agro hits 13
Total Agro special abilities 7
Burnouts 1
Collectibles 7
Cops activated 31
Cops lost 8
Arrests 9
Consecutive Wins 8
Opponents hit 954
Props hit 4462
Traffic Hit 2011
Nitrous 580
Damage Out 25
Races Completed 215
Wins 164
Wipeouts 343
Hours Cruising 5h 51m