|System: PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Headstrong Games / TT Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 14, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
The Lord of the Rings is a story that has been told countless times in books, movies, and a plethora of video games. In the most recent offering, The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest, players will get the opportunity to relive the important moments and battles of the trilogy from Aragorn's perspective. Offering the use of motion controls for combat, including Sean Astin as the voice of Samwise, and adding cooperative play are all things that help make Aragorn's Quest enjoyable, but whether those things trump some of the game's shortfalls is another story.
Aragorn's Quest takes place several years after the trilogy ends. Middle Earth has been saved from Sauron and peace has returned. Samwise has returned to The Shire and formed a family, having three children of his own, one of which is named Frodo. The game starts up with Samwise preparing a festival to honor King Elessar (Aragorn), who is coming to The Shire.
The player takes the role of young Frodo Gamgee, who is tasked with helping his parents prepare the festival. The tutorial is embedded in the game by having the player help setup events at the festival, each one focusing on a particular type of combat--using your shield or sword, firing a bow, riding a horse, etc. There are a number of delivery quests the player does as well, which involve nothing more than talking to one NPC and then another. While these may not seem very interesting, they aren't required either, so they're really just there if you want extra coins.
As Frodo, the player also gets invited to play with his friends, who are very fond of reenacting various adventures from the trilogy. For example, one of these imaginary quests involves you playing as Frodo Baggins as you fight your way through Shelob's lair. Considering the way Aragorn's Quest is set up, these imaginary play adventures are fairly clever ways of providing more story on top of what is primarily offered.
At the core of the game is the relived adventures of Aragorn, which are told by Samwise in the form of stories. This is where the player takes control of Aragorn, starting with his meeting Frodo and the hobbits at Bree. From there, the player will experience the major events of Aragorn's adventures, including the epic battles such as Helm's Deep.
The PS3 version of the game looks fairly decent, but it is immediately apparent that the game was originally designed for the Nintendo Wii and then ported to the PS3. Moreover, despite the power of the PS3, slowdowns were noticeable, especially when involved in the larger battles where there are a lot of enemies rendered on screen and even when simply roaming around the festival area as Frodo. The character animations are well done and the environments are, for the most part, detailed and interesting. Overall, the game's graphics don't live up to what we'd normally expect of the PS3, but they aren't awful either.
Fans of Peter Jackson's movies will be happy to hear that the iconic tracks are included. Furthermore, Sean Astin reprises his role as Samwise Gamgee, and he delivers a fair performance. Unfortunately, the rest of the sound effects and voice acting don't do the game justice. Much of the dialogue doesn't even match the characters' facial animations, often giving the impression of a English-dubbed, Japanese anime. Some of the voice acting is close to the original actors from the movies, but others are noticeably different.