In a sense, the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban PC game really is magical…It can make hours disappear. It’s all too easy to lose yourself in finding all of the secrets and wizard cards or in completing one of the many challanges necessary to “beat the game.” Like any good computer or video game, it creates a world within itself.
In making Prisoner of Azkaban, EA Games corrected, but did not perfect, many of the flaws of its earlier Harry Potter PC games (Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets).
Gameplay had been previously limited to first-person play as only Harry, but Prisoner of Azkaban allows you to play as Harry, Ron and Hermione. Unfortunately, the game still chooses when you play as each particular character, which still strictly limits the inherent possibilities in gameplay. In other words, each time you play the game from the start, you will be playing the same game over and over.
Prisoner of Azkaban also contains much more mini-games than its predecessors. While working your way through the main plot, you must go back and beat various mini-games, such as flying Buckbeak through five obstacle courses (much harder than it sounds), and defeating everything from Pixies to charmed books. These mini-games add an exciting dimension to the main storyline.
But most importantly, Prisoner of Azkaban is much more of a challenge than the earlier games. The individual spell challenges each require mastery of a different skill, from luge body sledding to flying a charmed dragon statue. However, there is one aspect of the game that is surprisingly easy…facing the Dementors. Defeating the feared creatures from the book and the movie requires little more than moderately quick reflexes.
The graphics are what really makes Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban special. Flying Buckbeak is absolutely breathtaking due to the beautiful landscape. Similarly, the amazing graphics make exploring the Hogwarts grounds as appealing as playing the challenges. Because of this, Prisoner of Azkaban is not a game that you want to hurry through, making the PC game definitely worth its price tag.
If you have a PC and you or your children like Harry Potter, buy this game. You won’t be disappointed. However, one warning: Make sure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements, especially regarding RAM. If your computer doesn’t have 256 MB of RAM, the game won’t even install. But once it does install, get ready to enter the world of Hogwarts!