Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
Harry Potter fanatics clamoring for an accurate re-creation of Quidditch, the wildly complex wizarding sport, can finally simmer down. EA has crafted a remarkably playable title that captures the intensity of this creative, chaotic broomstick ballgame. Like all of EA's Potter games, World Cup approaches the fiction with astute reverence, so every character, ball, and broom looks just as you'd imagine. And while most sports sims suffer from repetitive graphics (if you've seen one football stadium, you've seen 'em all), here, you get a crazy variety of colorful Quidditch pitches in places like the sun-parched Australian outback and a Spanish bullring. The snazzy visuals will initially draw you in, but you'll stick around for the instinctive, responsive game-play. Passing, shooting, and tackling are a breeze, and the climactic race to snag the golden snitch that ends each match offers tense thrills. What's weird (and kind of lame), though, is that when you first start the game, you don't have access to several key abilities, like dodging, special shots, or bludger tossing. You must earn these abilities by playing through the single-player game, so don't even bother playing Versus matches until you've unlocked them.
Like all Potter-heads, I couldn't wait to jump on a Nimbus 2000 broomstick and catch the snitch. Quidditch World Cup successfully delivers that experience. The fictional sport's sights, sounds, and feel are spot-on in this game, and the unlockable items will keep you playin' for hours. Next time, though, I'm hoping for more game modes, such as co-op, team creation, or even online play. Still, World Cup will satisfy both hardcore fans and those whose vocabulary doesn't include words like quaffle or bludger.
'Close, but no golden snitch' is how I'd describe World Cup. Once you figure out all the special moves and techniques, the single-player game is a blast. Problem is, your performance during each match rarely matters, as winning almost always comes down to simply grabbing that all-important 150-point snitch. Authentic Harry Potter? Most definitely. But it's far too limiting to give Quidditch the staying power it needs for serious gamers.