"A game the whole family can enjoy"
J.K. Rowling is one of the most famous writers in the world due to Harry Potter and over the past two years we've seen game releases from EA. This year there was no film so EA had a predicament, how to use the licence without having a film to back it up. There may be a Rugby World Cup in progress at the moment but EA want you to check out another, the Quidditch World Cup and whilst it isn't the greatest game that EA has ever released, it does have some redeeming qualities.
The game features three main game modes; Hogwarts, World Cup and Exhibition. Exhibition allows you to choose two unlocked teams to play a one off game with each other. Hogwarts is the first mode you have to complete and this is a battle between the various houses such as Gryffindor and Slytherin. You don't have to use the team which Harry plays for and the prize for winning the cup is two tickets to the World Cup of Quidditch. This obviously then unlocks the World Cup game mode.
The World Cup game mode is a league between nations such as England, Spain, Australia, France, the USA and others. It is basically the same as the Hogwarts cup except that there is many more teams and the games seem to drag on longer. Drag, because after a while the game does become incredibly repetitive and the only desire you will have to score is to unleash the golden snitch so you can finally get the game out of the way.
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is based around the sport of Quidditch which J.K. Rowling created with her franchise of books. In Quidditch teams of young wizards fight to score the most points. For a real world comparison, Quidditch is probably best described as a mix of Aussie Rules football and European Handball. Each end has three goals and placing the quaffel through the goal scores ten points. Each team has a goal keeper and it is up to that player to try and stop the other team from scoring. The goal keeper can not be tackled.
Each team is made up of chasers, beaters, seekers and the keeper. The chasers are the ones who score the goals and try and get the ball from one end to the other. The beaters stop bludgers from hitting the chasers whilst a game is in progress, the seeker tries to catch the snitch once its unleashed and the keeper as mentioned before tries to prevent points from being scored. As points are scored and time wears on then the Golden Snitch bar will move, when the two sections join the snitch is released.
This is where the second part of the sport is initiated. Once the golden snitch is released it is up to the seekers to try and catch it. It is worth 150 points to the team so it can turn the tide of matches. Although because Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is on the easy side, most of the time it won't matter. This is possibly the biggest problem with the game, it's just to easy. The game is aimed at a younger demographic but even so, it should not be as easy as it is. Admittedly once the World Cup mode is unlocked, the game offers a slightly tougher challenge but even then 400-10 or 20 score lines before the golden snitch is unleashed are the norm.
Because Quidditch isn't a real world sport EA has included numerous tutorials for players to complete. They teach you how to fly the broomstick, score goals, tackle players, unleash and control a bludger and perform combo moves. The controls are quite simple with the face buttons being used to shoot, pass, tackle and the triggers used to execute special moves. For instance holding both triggers and double tapping A will execute a move not to unlike a bicycle kick in soccer.
Each of the World Cup teams have been crafted around a general stereotype. The Aussies home stadium is in the outback and they talk with slang at times, whilst the English have a much more standard stadium and talk with an accent. The stereotypes add character to the teams. The World Cup is a league format and we can't help but think that this was decided upon to extend the games longevity. Anyone who is adept at gaming could probably clock this in a few hours, if they have the patience to play through the long matches.
The animations of the characters is quite good with one exception. When performing moves such as a dodge, pass or shoot the move is performed in real time during the game. However when a special move or team special move is executed the game cuts to a CG rendered movie, which can't be skipped. Being able to perform these moves during actual gameplay and also perhaps being able to somehow defend against them could have added more depth.
On the graphics side of things, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is quite impressive. Featuring the unique stadiums, rock solid frame rate and great animations the game really does look good on the Xbox console. During matches after points are scored players may be shown celebrating or the crowd cheering but again unfortunately in a pre-rendered CG scene.
Sound wise the game is great with players giving each other smack talk although "may the best team win" may not be the most demoralising utterance we've heard in a game. The main theme is a classical tune typically used during epic war games.
Multiplayer is offered on the same console only and also only features two players despite the fact the Xbox has four controller ports.
Credit must be given to EA for being able to flesh out a fantasy sport into a full blown video game. The sport looks to have been replicated almost perfectly and the stadiums and players look great. The only major down side to Quidditch World Cup is that it becomes very repetitive, very fast and is incredibly easy. One for the hardcore Harry Potter fans only but if you're a parent and you want a game to enjoy with the kids then you could do much worse then Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup.