The Harry Potter franchise made a fairly passable jump to game consoles last year when EA released games based on the movie adaptation of the first novel in the series. The franchise's rich tale of a young boy's adventure as a wizard-in-training has all the gameplay and story elements needed for a video game pretty much built in. While the book that the film was based on has had a far-reaching appeal that's crossed age barriers, the games were definitely skewed toward younger players. Fortunately, the follow-up, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the PlayStation 2, manages to come far closer to capturing the franchise's appeal. Offering a polished mix of strong graphics and solid gameplay, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a marked improvement over its predecessor.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets follows a pretty standard linear structure that suits the story well. The action is broken up into daylong increments. You'll be given objectives to complete at the start of each day, ranging from clearing gnomes out of a garden to attending class and learning a spell. You'll find that your to-do list will grow as you complete tasks, resulting in some long, adventure-filled days. While the game does take some dramatic licence, fans of the movie and book will be pleased to be able to participate in many of the key action sequences integral to the story. Your time in the game will be nicely balanced between exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat. In addition to the main set of objectives you'll have to complete to progress through the game, you'll also find a meaty selection of minigames you can play, such as Quidditch, assorted gnome-centric diversions, broomstick races, and side quests to track down collectible Wizard Cards.
The game's audio offers a more consistent experience, with a solid level of quality throughout the game. The voice acting is strong, and the musical score is effective at maintaining the tone of the game.
- Flipendo: Triggers switches and moves objects. Harry begins the game with this spell, which he learned in the previous game.
- Alohomora: Unlocks mechanical locks, including those found on doors and locked chests. Harry has to purchase the spell at Fred and George's shop.
- Lumos: Illuminates the caster's wand. Harry finds it in Knockturn Alley.
- Skurge: Clears ectoplasm (an "unpleasant greenish substance left behind by certain ghostly beings", in the words of Professor Flitwick) out of doorways and off floors. Harry learns this spell during a late-night adventure.
- Expelliarmus: In wizard duels, deflects spells cast by the opponent. It is learned in Defence Against the Dark Arts.
- Diffindo: "Dead-heads" Venomous Tentaculas and Spiky Bushes. It may be used to sever certain vines, ropes, spider webs, and hanging tapestries. Harry learns this spell during a late-night adventure.
- Avifors: Turns statues into birds. Learned in Transfiguration.
- Incendio: Shoots a blast of blue fire from Harry's wand. Used to light torches, clear away spider webs, and in combat against spiders and fire crabs. Learned in Charms.
- Locomotor Mortis: Prefects cast this spell at Harry if they see him wandering around the castle after curfew or in restricted areas. It locks his legs and holds him in place until they catch up and discipline him. Harry cannot learn this spell.
- Ron Weasley: (Voice: Greg Chillin) Harry's best friend, usually seen leading Harry to class or to the Quidditch stadium, or in cut scenes.
- Hermione Granger: (Voice: Emily Robison) Harry's other best friend, a brainy girl who is rarely with Harry most of the game, except in cut scenes. She is petrified toward the end of the game.
- Ginny Weasley: (Voice: Victoria Robinson) Ron's little sister, who Harry has to rescue at the end of the game. Harry also has to find Ginny's quill, brass scales and spellotape in Diagon Alley.
- Fred and George Weasley: (Voices: Lewis MacLeod) Twins, older brothers of Ron and Ginny. They play as Beaters on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. They give Harry a refresher on the Flipendo spell, teach him how to toss gnomes, and once back at Hogwarts, they open a shop in Gryffindor Tower where Harry can purchase items like Stink Pellets and Dungbombs, Famous Witches and Wizards cards, and the Alohomora spellbook. The shop is only open at night and on the last day before entering the Great Hall.
- Neville Longbottom: (Voice: Gary Fairhall) One of Harry's roommates; a clumsy, forgetful boy. He gets trapped behind a tapestry, and Harry has to find the Diffindo spell in order to free him.
- Draco Malfoy: (Voice: Lewis MacLeod) Harry's arch-rival, usually found sneaking around at night. Harry also duels him at the Duelling Club. He is also in the clip where Harry (in the figure of Goyle) is in the Slytherin Dungeon to talk with Draco.
- Myrtle Warren: (Voice: Victoria Robinson) a ghost who haunts the first-floor girls' bathroom.
- Albus Dumbledore: (Voice: Benjamin Stone) the Headmaster of Hogwarts. While normally absent from a good part of the game, he features prominently in a cut scene in which he tells Harry that he does not think that Harry is the Heir of Slytherin. He also appears at the end of each day to announce the latest house point totals.
- Professor Snape: (Voice: Allan Corduner) the Potions master. Known for being unusually strict, he is usually to be found in the dungeons, near his classroom.
- Professor McGonagall: (Voice: Ève Karpf) the Transfiguration teacher.
- Professor Flitwick: (Voice: Allan Corduner) the Charms teacher.
- Mrs Norris: Argus Filch's cat and acts as the caretaker's assistant. She is petrified near the begin of the game.
- Professor Lockhart: (Voice: Mark Lowenthal) the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. His classroom is located on the third floor. He also is in charge of the Duelling Club, and accompanies Harry and Ron into the Chamber (excluding the home console and GBA versions).
- Rubeus Hagrid: (Voice: Jonathan Kydd) a very large half-man, half-giant, usually found in his cottage in the grounds. He is also seen in a cutscene where he is taken away to Azkaban. In the home console games, he can be found in the Leaky Cauldron.
- Aragog: (Voice: Fred Ridgeway) An Acromantula that dwells in the Forbidden Forest.
- Professor Sprout: (Voice: Ève Karpf) the Herbology teacher. She teaches in the greenhouses, which are located on the right-hand side of the grounds.
- Madam Hooch: (Voice: Ève Karpf): the Flying teacher. She teaches a flying lesson in an outside lawn area, and thereafter is always found there during the day if Harry wants to try to improve his score on the flight training course.
- Oliver Wood: (Voice: Lewis MacLeod): Gryffindor Quidditch team Captain. He calls Harry to his first Quidditch practise of the year, and thereafter is always found at the Quidditch stadium during the day if Harry wants to try to improve his practise time for catching the Golden Snitch.
- Percy Weasley (Voice: Lewis MacLeod): a Gryffindor prefect, older brother of Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny. Percy can be found in the Gryffindor Tower study room at night; he does not like to be disturbed, and will throw Harry out of the room if he catches him. The only way to reach Fred and George's shop (see above) is through the study room.
- Lucius Malfoy: The father of Draco. He is seen in Borgin and Burkes and then in Diagon Alley. He is also mentioned during Harry's Quidditch training. The last cutscene he appears in is the one where he fires Dumbledore and arrests Hagrid.
- Tom Riddle: The young version of Lord Voldemort. He is controlled by his diary. The diary is destroyed during the showdown in the Chamber of Secrets and Riddle is destroyed with it.
Behind the scenes
- Colin Creevey and Justin Finch-Fletchley are omitted in this and the computer version of the game. Dobby is also absent in this version, with a brief appearance at the beginning of the computer version.
- The Duelling Club happens in the Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom instead of the Great Hall.
- Sir Nicholas and Hermione are the only people who get petrified by the Basilisk.
- In the PS2 and computer versions, the Basilisk lands on the diary while in the Xbox/Gamecube version, the Basilisk's fang flies up in the air and lands on the diary. In the book and movie (as well as in other game versions), Harry stabs it himself, using a sword in the GBC version.
- Hufflepuffs wear purple robes rather than their usual yellow.
- In this version and the computer version, Ron states that the Ford Anglia is parked in Charing Cross Road. This is a real London street and the location in the Harry Potter universe of the Leaky Cauldron.
- Hermione is present during the House Point ceremony even though she was attacked by the Basilisk, especially since she, unlike in the movie/book, recovers much earlier.