This article focuses on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube versions of Electronic Arts Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban video game.


It's a safe bet that much of this game's potential audience is already familiar with the storyline from the original novel, or they soon will be when the movie version is released. If you're not, Prisoner of Azkaban recounts Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a year that is dogged by the feared criminal Sirius Black. Black, the eponymous escaped prisoner, was somehow involved in the death of Harry's parents and he is making great efforts to reach and presumably kill young Potter as well. As with all the stories in the Harry Potter series, this one has more twists and surprises than you can shake a stick at, so if you don't already know what's going to happen, you'll be in for some surprises. The game mostly does a decent job of following the original storyline, though some liberties are taken to create new playable sequences. Meanwhile, some events from the book are only touched upon in passing, giving the story presentation a sometimes disjointed and hurried feeling. The game's story works pretty well, but it's better experienced as a companion to the book or movie, rather than as a standalone narrative.

The gameplay in Prisoner of Azkaban has been expanded upon from previous Harry Potter games, primarily because you can now play as not only Harry but also his best friends, Ron and Hermione. You'll progress through the storyline by pursuing basic quest goals that will have you attending particular classes, searching for key items, and helping out those in need. Once all your goals are completed for a given section, you'll have the option of ending the day and moving on to the next chapter or simply roaming around Hogwarts and exploring. The game's basic control scheme lets you map two spells to your action buttons, and a lock-on ability lets you dodge and keep your aim focused on a particular enemy or item of interest. You can switch between the three characters at the touch of a button, although sometimes you'll be limited to just one or two of them as situations dictate.



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