The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

The Younger Audience’s Lord of the Rings

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.

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest screenshot

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.

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest screenshot

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.

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest screenshot

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.

The controls for Aragorn’s Quest is where the game will either shine or fail. Depending on whether you have Playstation Move, you’ll get to experience motion control combat. Unfortunately, this review can only speak to the quality of the controls with a standard controller. Moving around the world is fairly simple and straightforward. However, the player will quickly come to hate the camera that is mostly locked behind the character. Running toward the camera eventually changes its perspective, but if you’re trying to quickly fight enemies that approach from behind, you’ll be mostly swinging your sword blind.

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest screenshot

The game does include ranged combat as well, which would probably handle better using motion controls. When using a standard controller, on the other hand, the player has to hold down L1 while using the right analog stick to move the crosshair that appears. When in ranged combat mode, the camera slowly moves along while you attempt to aim, making it especially difficult. Luckily, there is a lock-on feature that makes it so you only have to be close to your target for your shot to hit.

While the game doesn’t feature any online multiplayer, it does come with a 2-player cooperative option where a friend can join in as Gandalf. And, in a clever bit of design, if you’re playing around in The Shire as Frodo Gamgee, your friend joins in as another hobbit dressed in a gray wizard hat. While you can complete the game with only one person, many of the secrets and unlocks can only be had if someone is playing with you. For example, there are some chests and pots that come with a magical barrier that, obviously, cannot be broken except by a certain wizard. There aren’t any missions or quests that the player will miss out on if they play solo, but nearly any game is made more fun if you’re playing with a friend, and Aragorn’s Quest is no different.

Aragorn’s Quest is decent romp through the familiar events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but some obvious flaws and design issues make it difficult to slap the “must buy” on it. The game’s violence is toned down to the lowest level, making it meet the requirements for the “T” rating, and it is obvious that it is designed for a younger audience. Therefore, if you’re a fan who loves the cinematic fantasy action, you might be a bit disappointed in what this game is offering. The blood, grit, and desperation that was often captured by other games is completely missing here–this definitely feels like story time.

If you’re a PS3 owner, be prepared for a game that doesn’t utilize the console’s power to its fullest. It may be an interesting test of the Playstation Move’s capability, but if you want to play the game the way it was designed and intended, your best bet is the Wii version. Aragorn’s Quest isn’t the best Lord of the Rings game to hit the market, but it certainly isn’t the worst either.

Stylistic and cartoonish, the visual don’t live up to the PS3’s capability, but are definitely good for the Wii. 3.0 Control
While motion controls are at the core of the game, a bad camera and difficult-to-manage ranged combat can strip the fun away in a heartbeat. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
While the game features the music from the motion pictures and Sean Astin reprises his role as Samwise Gamgee, the rest of the sound effects and voice acting are lacking. 3.0 Play Value
Playing cooperatively with a friend as Gandalf can be fun, but many of the quests seem almost pointless and more like mini-games designed to waste time. Low replay value makes it difficult to return to or think of as a “party” game. 2.7 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Play as Aragorn – Play as the legendary Aragorn as you embark on his greatest quests from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • Full Motion Controls – Intuitive gameplay utilizing the motion controls of the Nintendo Wii and Playstation Move.
  • Co-op Gameplay–Team up with a friend to adventure through the entire game together via same-screen Co-Op.
  • Player Upgrades–Discover new skills, powerful weapons, and armor as Aragorn journeys through the game.

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