Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

�Hi, Harry, it�s EA�um, we could use a few bucks to get us through the holidays�"

Wait�didn�t this game come out already? Yes, but that apparently hasn�t stopped EA from releasing a new version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer�s Stone for the PlayStation 2. Why? Um�because it�s the holidays and there�s money to be made.

Maybe that�s too cynical (and it�s only $30), but it�s hard to tell why this game exists, at least now�there�s no movie tie-in, and this story (the first book in the franchise) has been told in a PS one video game already. It�s not the same exact game, but the run-around-Hogwarts-and-collect-stuff gameplay is close enough to be a detriment. Among the new bits: button-assignable spells, optional side quests, a bit more variety to the gameplay and, of course, much better graphics throughout (which makes exploring fun�you really get a sense of the school�s scale). But the core still involves lots of non-skippable cinematic sequences, a fidgety camera (and finicky controls), overearnest voice acting, and tepid platform-style action (any game where the first true action sequence takes place in a room full of crates set up for jumping puzzles is trouble).

It�s more interactive and enjoyable than the PS one game, but it still feels like a rehash. Since the old game runs on PS2 hardware, too, why not take a totally different approach to telling the book�s tale here? This is the game that should have come out first to launch EA�s franchise, but being so late and similar, it�s now for hardcore Potter fans only.