Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Developer:  Know Wonder
Publisher:  EA Games
Year Released:  2003

Review by Steve Ramsey with Emily and Clare (January, 2003)
Steve says:
More of the same is never too much, at least where Harry Potter is concerned. Not yet anyway. With a much-awaited fifth book imminent, the second movie still on the screens, and countless items of merchandise no doubt received and given for Christmas, the latest software instalment gets in on the action and adds to the fun of the first.

At our house, Harry has been making his way towards revealing the identity of the heir of Slytherin for several weeks now. Other holiday events and visits have intervened, but both Emily and Clare continue to return to the quest. Each has started their own game, but often embark with the other in tow, or with the help of a visiting friend or cousin. All players have seemed to respond positively to the adventure.

The game is very similar to The Philosophers Stone. It certainly looks the same, which is a very big plus, and plays almost identically. As such, I won't repeat myself here - hop over to the earlier game review for more detail.

There are some refinements in spell learning, and Quidditch has been made a bit easier (and apart from a practice session you can avoid playing altogether), but you still get to run and leap and smash your way round Hogwarts, collecting and trading Bertie Botts Beans, wizard cards and other items. Your favourite friends and villains and ghosts are all present. Mostly you will explore within Hogwarts, but you will find yourself outside now and then. Despite the sameness of the setting, Hogwarts remains testament to the fact that for some things, familiarity does not breed contempt.

You can focus on achieving each objective, and the game will gently propel you in the right direction, but there are plenty of hidden passages and secret openings to find if you explore more thoroughly. Greater exploration will increase your bean and card tally, as well as your ultimate "score", as well as adding another dimension to the game play. Have you really completed the game if you defeat the basilisk, but haven't found all the wizard cards? That will be a matter of individual opinion.

With some notable exceptions, the story line seems to follow the plot of the movie, being a truncated (though reasonably faithfully so) version of the novel. I also thought at times it was rather wordy, at least for smaller or impatient players, but in all things Harry it seems that leaving things out is the bigger sin, so dialogue is essential.

Like many third person three-dimensional games, camera view can occasionally be a pain, but it is quickly rectified. It is mouse and keyboard driven, and you can configure the keys to suit yourself. Some handy little options (like auto jump) will make many of the trickier arcade-like sequences easier for the novice. At certain points in the game, autosave will kick in, but regrettably you can still only save at a game save book, and as there is no second chance option, you may find yourself repeating sizeable chunks if Harry expires.

It is probably fair to say it is at the easy end of the action/adventure/arcade scale, the difficulty of the foes increasing as you play. The battles with Aragog and the basilisk can take some winning though, particularly if health is low, and there is an arcade sequence with a big boulder that may hold things up for a while. However being relatively easy means more of Harry's fans may appreciate its attractions. If you liked the first game, there is no reason you won't like this.

Emily (aged 13) says:
Well I still haven't played the game all the way through myself, but I played the end with Clare. I like the game a lot. A few of my friends, Roxy and Jay, have played it with me when they were over and both seemed to like it too

The game is a bit different to the book, but I haven't seen the movie yet so it may have been closer to the movie. The plot still gave you the main idea of the book though.

As well as the main story line there are other things in the game such as:

  • Wizard duelling with spells - I liked that a lot!
  • Quidditch - I liked that too. It was a lot easier in this game than it was in the first, which I thought, made it more fun.
  • Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans - If you had enough you could trade them with Fred and George (and a few others) for certain items. You could find the beans and the traders around the castle and its grounds.
  • House Points - If your house had the most house points at the end of the week you got a chance to enter the Bean Bonus Room. You got house points by completing challenges quickly, and learning spells.

In the first game to learn a spell you had to move your wand around a shape. In this game the wand will automatically move around, but you will have to hit the correct arrow key as the wand moves over it. I liked this way better.

The graphics and sound were good. The characters looked like those in the movie, and all the rooms and corridors were very detailed. There were good sound effects and music to help set the mood.

I didn't like that if you wanted to save you had to find a save book. There were a few around Hogwarts, but if you were in the middle of a challenge you had to complete a certain amount before they gave you a save book.

I also didn't like that if you wanted to load a different game you had to quit and then restart it again.

It was a lot like the first game but because of some of the changes I talked about I liked it more. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

Clare (aged 10) says:
I like the game a lot. My favourite part is the weekly house ceremony when you get to go in to the bean room.

I couldn't understand the very first challenge you do with Professor Lockhart because he didn't give me enough instruction. So I was very happy when I finished the challenge. After that, my house had the most house points and I got to go in the bean room. The unfortunate thing was you only get as much time in the bean room as you have more points than the second best house for the week. I only had two more points so I only got two seconds.

Jumping over big gaps or on to moving things is a bit hard so I turned on auto jump, which made it a lot easier. Learning spells is pretty easy; you just need to be familiar with the arrow keys. It was better than tracing, which was harder to stay inside the lines.

I had to get Emily to defeat the basilisk. I had used up all 8 of my health potions before I beat Aragog (not in the movie or the book) which was very annoying. It meant I was struggling with health in the chamber.

There are lots of things that will try and take Harry's health such as pixies, gnomes, crabs, big spiders (some little spiders crawl on top of you and get bigger and bigger), slugs and some plants.

You can get more health with chocolate frogs and potions (wigen tree bark and flobber worm mucus). And if you get enough bronze wizard cards you get an extra "lightning bolt" life and you can then have more health and it is harder to die. I had 4 lives.

I have started again and am going to try and get lots of beans and find all the cards. I will also get a lot of health potions. I give this game an 8 and a half out of 10 and I rate it for ages 9 and up. I think it helps if you like Harry Potter. rating:  

Copyright © Steve Ramsey with Emily and Clare 2003. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 95/98/2000/Me/XP
PII 300 Mhz, 64Mb RAM, 4 x CD ROM, 600Mb disc space, DirectX 8.0a 100% Compatible Sound Card, DirectX 8.0a 100% Compatible Video Card with 4Mb, Mouse and Keyboard, Direct 3D accelerator video card recommended.