I'm sure someone thought a Potter-themed Gears of War clone sounded great at some point. Given the critical panning previous games in the EA movie-license series have suffered, there was definitely a good reason to change things up. Half-Blood Prince and Order of the Phoenix both used a superbly recreated Hogwarts, but that virtual play area hid two fairly dull gaming experiences. With Deathly Hallows - Part 1, EA turned up the action ten-fold but shipped a buggy mess of a game that was shallow and repetitive. The sequel is significantly better in terms of production, but the game still suffers from boring combat and too many of the best moments being conveyed via cutscenes.
If you missed the 5/10 scoring Deathly Hallows - Part 1 it's worth pointing out how EA managed to take Harry Potter and turn it into a third-person, cover-based shooter. Here your spells are essentially guns. Stupefy is your pistol, Expulso is a machine gun, Expelliarmus is a shotgun-like blast that breaks through an enemy's Protego shield and Impedimenta lets you target enemies and blast them with homing missiles. It just about works from a gameplay mechanic point of view, but as far as staying true to the Harry Potter license Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 are the worst to date.
The game's story is centred on Harry and co trying to destroy Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes, which has let EA create a game in which you play as a variety of characters during a pitifully brief four-hour adventure. As well as sections in which you play as Ron, Hermione and Ginny, you even get to take part in a battle as Molly Weasley.
None of these characters offer anything different, though. You're almost always just hiding behind cover, popping out to shoot enemies with your gu... erm, spells. There's a tiny element of depth to be found in the way you need to use Expelliarmus to disable enemy shields before shooting them, and certain objects in the environment can be shot to cause damage, but that's really about it.
Outside of these by-the-numbers Gears of War sections, some variety can be found in the sniping section - yes, there's even a sniping mission - in which you need to provide cover for Seamus Finnigan, and a number of Uncharted-inspired 'run away from the camera while stuff goes on behind you' sequences. The latter provide some of the game's most exciting moments, but can't make up for the lacklustre missions and combat being offered elsewhere.
A late sequence in which you play as Ginny is quite possibly the worst offender with regard to tiresome gameplay and boring combat. Here you're tasked with fending off wave after wave of enemies while the others are busy dealing with bigger problems. It's so dull and devoid of creativity you'll probably curse when you realise there is yet another round of enemies to take on, all while you hide behind a wall at the far end of a courtyard.
For whatever reason many of the story's best moments are simply played out in non-interactive form, including a ride on a dragon that could have made for an exciting on-rails sequence. You do get to fight "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named", but it's not nearly as much of a spectacle as it could have been. While it's a multi-stage affair, it takes little to no effort other than spamming Expulso and occasionally blocking - as a result there's little to no sense of achievement when it's all over.
Once the campaign is done and dusted you can replay sequences in the Challenge Mode, in which your completion times are recorded, but the fastest time element doesn't suddenly make a bad game a good one.
The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 does redeem itself somewhat thanks to some smart presentation, easily making it the most impressive looking game in the series. It lacks some of the charm found in the open environment of Half-Blood Prince and Order of the Phoenix, but character models and environments are far more detailed overall. If you're a big fan you'll likely get a lot of enjoyment from how well the world has been recreated, but then also find how the license has been forced into a shooter shell hard to swallow.
Harry Potter could clearly be turned into a good video game but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 isn't that game. You could catch of glimpse of EA's latest and think it looks quite smart, but play it and you'll wonder how a series so full of ideas and magic lacks even a tiny spark of imagination. You'll grow tired of the combat as soon as you realise there's zero challenge, groaning every time something cool happens in a cutscene only for you to then trundle through yet another repetitive shooting sequence. Some dull padding could have been explained if the game was more than eight hours in length but it's a measly four hours long. In a game that short, every moment should be pure dynamite.
At the end of the credits you're shown a montage video of all the games in the series, clearly intended to get you reminiscing about the good times you've had. It just made me see how much of a missed opportunity the Harry Potter games have been.
Xbox 360 version tested.