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Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest

Hands-On With The Lord Of The Rings: Aragorn's Quest
by Jeff Marchiafava on Jun 17, 2010 at 08:03 AM
Platform Wii
Publisher Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer Headstrong Games
Rating Teen

There have been so many video games based on The Lord Of The Rings over the past few years that it’s easy to get them confused. Most of them focus on trying to realistically recreate Tolkien’s fantasy world and marry it with a simple hack and slash formula. Aragorn’s Quest hopes to stand out from the pack by trading realism for family-friendly gameplay, a cartoony visual style, and an approach to storytelling that’s even more over-the-top than the original stories.

The most unique aspect of Aragorn’s Quest is its delivery. Rather than just recreating the events of the books for the umpteenth time, the action in Aragorn’s Quest is actually Samwise Gamgee’s retelling of the adventure, as told to his son Frodo. This allows the game to not only focus on the action (and skip all of the traveling and other boring parts), but in some cases, even ratchet up the excitement as Sam embellishes on the truth. Even minor encounters in the books are now epic battles, and Headstrong Games is using the narrative structure to create some new enemies and scenarios.

Aragorn’s Quest is very family-friendly. Not only is the violence toned down (don’t expect to see any blood), but there are numerous gameplay mechanics designed to help struggling players: Pressing the “A” button at any time will reveal a magic line to direct players to their next objective, and if you die during combat, the game will spawn fewer enemies as Samwise re-remembers what “actually” happened.

But just because the game is appropriate for kids doesn’t mean it’s overly simplistic. Beneath the waggle-based combat is a solid RPG-lite foundation, and you’ll level up various attributes as you progress. You also have a full set of abilities, including your trusty sword, bow and arrows, a torch, and shield. In addition to basic attacks, there are QTE-like counters that you can performed, and a power gauge to unleash even more powerful attacks. A second player can also jump in at anytime and play as Gandalf, although they will play as more of a supporting role – this is Aragorn’s Quest, after all.

From what I played, Aragorn's Quest is a solid action title with a unique approach that should appeal to gaming-friendly parents. A WBIE representative said that although the game is easy to pick up and play, there are a lot of extras for gamers looking for more depth. We’ll have to wait to see just how deep of an experience the game can deliver, but our first look was promising. We'll bring you more on Aragorn’s Quest as we approach its September release.

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Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Questcover

Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest

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