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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone


by Hilary Williams

Based on the book by J. K. Rowling and film of the same name, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone offers fans a further extension of the phenomenon enjoyed by millions of readers. Players join Harry as he explores the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learning new spells and collecting magic beans and collectible cards.

3D gameplay graphics are from a third-person over-the-shoulder viewpoint, with the detailed game world including expansive outdoor scenes and eerie indoor and underground areas. In a few instances, objects seem to pop up out of nowhere and obstruct the camera view, but most items are easy to see, with bright colors and good lighting. Surprisingly, characters' lips don't move when they speak during cut scenes, an aspect that seems amateurish in light of the otherwise nicely done graphics.

Perhaps the best feature is the completely customizable game control scheme, which allows you to maneuver and manipulate Harry using either the mouse, keyboard, or both. With the freedom to select which mouse button and/or keys perform certain functions, the game is easy to handle for those with specific preferences. An auto-jumping feature is provided for less experienced players, though it can backfire when Harry jumps onto the edge of a cliff, barely hanging on, only to automatically leap into an abyss.

The game incorporates much of the storyline from the book and some music borrowed from the movie soundtrack by John Williams. Not all the actors from the movie lend their voices to the game characters, though, but some characters in the book that weren't represented in the movie are included. It's a satisfactory amalgam of the two mediums.

In a concession to the intended audience, Harry never dies during the adventure but faints when his health meter hits zero, at which point he revives at the last checkpoint. Chocolate frogs build his health up during his exploits as he runs into all types of obstacles including hostile students, magic-wielding characters, fires, and more.

The puzzles in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's are fairly straightforward, though not always completely obvious. The simplicity may bore more seasoned adventure gamers, but it makes the game more accessible to a wider audience, including adults who can enjoy the game as well as children.

Graphics graphics rating

The excellent 3D graphics are marred by occasional unfriendly camera angles. Characters' lips don't move during cut scenes.

Sound sound rating

Ambient sounds, from tweeting birds to dripping water, are a nice touch and enhance the otherwise clear presentation. The strong English accents may be difficult for some to understand, but subtitles are provided during character speech.

Enjoyment enjoyment rating

Harry Potter fans, both adult and children, will enjoy the gameplay, though some gamers may feel the game isn't complex enough.

Replay Value replay rating

With many hidden areas to explore, it's likely a few could be missed in the first play. However, since gameplay is fairly linear, once everything has been discovered, replays can become monotonous. However, the Quidditch mini-game can be played in a league mode once unlocked during the regular game.

Documentation documentation rating

A very thorough manual provides good game coverage in most respects.