PS3 Review: The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest

One game to ruin them all?

I’m a huge LOTR fan. I have all extended DVDs, hundreds of figurines, a Monopoly version and even The One Ring itself! But as much as a fan as I am, I’ve been incredibly disappointed by the LOTR games over the years. The only one that I remotely enjoyed was Return of the King for the GameCube. Battle for Middle-Earth was ok but not much to write home about and the less said about LOTR Conquest, the better…

The EA reign over the license is at an end after that disaster, but can Warner Bros breathe some life into this great franchise? Their first attempt at doing this is LOTR Aragorn’s Quest which is a retelling of the story from the point of Aragorn, but it’s told via Samwise as he reads it to his kids 15 years after the ring is destroyed. The story is messed around with a bit and I have to say as a purist, I wasn’t happy with the way the story was dealt with. Lines of dialogue and key events are mixed up in a way that annoys me.

The PS3 version uses the Move controller, but it’s optional. I played this way and it was clear that this is no better than the Wii version. Using Move doesn’t add any further accuracy to what you do and you can happily sit down and waggle the remote around with no problems. The game is incredibly easy, although the controls are very poor and even your most basic movements feel like a chore. For example, you can chop down a tree blocking the way with a swing of your blade, but you have to wait a few seconds for it to disappear before you can pass through the gap.

Aragorn can switch between arrows, swords, shields and torches to attack his foes, but they don’t pose much of a challenge. Sometimes the game will even make fights easier by showing you what move you need to pull off for maximum damage, so even the toughest fights become a walk in the park. You can go through the game fairly quickly if you wish, but you can tackle side-quests and hunting for tokens to improve your strength and defences, but only if you really are dedicated.

A second player can join the game as Gandalf, my favourite character of LOTR. He doesn’t handle much better than Aragorn, but he’s more fun to fight with. The level design leaves a lot to be desired, it essentially puts you on a path where you’ll come across predictable enemy placements, most of which you can get through without any trouble. You’ll even have the Hobbits fighting them to help you further; it’s just far too easy.

The Move controls add nothing to the gameplay and honestly, playing with the standard controller felt a LOT better, but it doesn’t change the fact that the game is still a major disappointment. I wanted to enjoy Aragorn’s Quest, but it just falls flat…especially in the visual department which shows that the game is nothing more than an upscaled version of the PS2 version. Why bother to release this game on a current-gen console when its visuals look last gen? It doesn’t make any sense…The music is classic LOTR and some new lines of dialogue are added from the likes of Samwise, but the rest is all recycled from the films and it’s usually out of sync with what happens in the films and books, so I was pretty peeved to say the least.

The Verdict

Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest is a huge letdown, but at least it’s a thousand times better than Conquest was. Having said that, it’s still a poor excuse of the license and the use of Move in the PS3 version is just terrible. I only hope that War in the North can finally be the LOTR game that we’ve all been waiting for, because this isn’t it…