In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is back for his fifth year at Hogwarts but soon realizes that a majority of the wizard community does not know the truth about Harry’s latest encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic believes that the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore is lying about Voldemort’s return to undermine his power. He hires a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher to keep an eye out on Dumbledore and the students at Hogwarts.
Professor Dolores Umbridge however, isn’t able to properly prepare the students in Defense Against the Dark Arts with the Ministry-approved course material. Harry decides to take matters into his own hands by gathering a small group of students to teach them how to defend against the Dark Arts.
Working closely with Warner Bros., Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix recreates key moments from the movie. Hogwarts is built using the same blueprints from the movie set to create a more authentic feel. Several movie actors have their head scanned for a better image of them in game, and lend their voices to the in-game characters. Throughout the game, there is the opportunity to play other characters as well, such as Sirius and Dumbledore.
The EA demonstration was on the Nintendo Wii. Harry’s spellcasting is controlled by the Wii remote. By mimicking certain movements, such as flicking your wrist or pushing the wand, you can cast spells as shown on screen by the character. A menu is available to you to stay up to date with the spells you collect. Each spell has directions next to it to show you how to cast so you know how to activate it properly. The nunchuck is used to move around and is also used in conjunction with the Wii remote for spell casting. Targeting can be done by pointing the Wii remote at the screen. Through exploring, you collect discovery points which will increase the potency of your spells.
A map is provided in your menu but there is no mini map. Instead, there are footprints to guide you to where you need to go next. You are also able to interact with the portraits on the walls. If you’re at the point where you can unlock a portrait quest, you can use the portraits as a shortcut to other locations by completing the quest.
The graphics on the Wii are as good as can be expected. The characters lack detail when the camera angle zooms out, but they look a little better up close. Character movements seem rather stiff, and during the demo the controls seemed a bit clunky, especially when it came to targeting other students. The good news is, there are no ridiculously long loading times between areas.
The area that we were shown was rather large. You can explore all of Hogwarts as well as the surrounding grounds. There are mini wizard games available such as Wizard Chess, Exploding Snap and Gobstones where you can challenge the best from each house at Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be available on the PC, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and the PSP. The PSP version will have multiplayer functionality where up to six players can compete in magical combat in Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic. The DS version will allow players to cast their spells using the stylus and give the player the ability to feed and pet Hippogriffs and Thestrals in the Care of Magical Creatures mini-game.