Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest Preview
Let’s face up to facts: “The Lord of the Rings” in movie form is simply too graphic for kids. And if a developer wants to make a video game that is an accurate portrayal of either the films or books, it’s also going to be inappropriate for the younger generation. At the same time, it’s a great story of fantasy, loaded with all the mythical, awe-inspiring fiction most bedtime stories include. So what to do? Well, we need a game specifically designed for those who shouldn’t be ingesting tons of blood and gore at the age of seven or eight, but would still like to take a highly imaginative and rewarding ride through Tolkien’s lush world. Enter TT Fusion and Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest, which is the PlayStation 3 version of the Wii edition; Sony’s effort will boast PlayStation Move functionality, as those who watched Sony’s E3 press conference are probably aware. For the record, there is no Kinect-compatible version in the works for the Xbox 360 so parents, make sure you’ve got a PS3 for this one.
As you might expect, the game focuses on the character of Aragorn, and gives us a look at all three adventures (i.e., books) through his heroic eyes. So yeah, players will be able to participate in significant, tide-turning battles like the one that took place in Pelennor Fields in “The Return of the King,” and the earlier hair-raising rush through the Mines of Moria. The really cool part is that it’s sort of a retrospective; Sam Gamgee is relating Aragorn’s feats of strength to his kids at a later time (Sean Astin is handling the voiceover, too), so you should anticipate a lighter, less intense version of the epic story. Remember, this is supposed to be family-friendly so it’s a very nice touch to have the game revolve around, as we mentioned before, a tamer bedtime tale of legend. In other words, Sam isn’t going to tell his kids all about how Aragorn sliced the head off a fearsome orc chieftain, nor is he going to explain in grisly detail how the Ranger’s sword brutally cleaves skin, muscle and sinew from bone.
As for the gameplay, Aragorn will usually have his two buddies along for the ride – the dwarf, Gimli, and the elf, Legolas – and they will assist him in his battling of Sauron’s evil hordes. You won’t be controlling all members of the party nor will you be issuing orders to your allies; you will only control Aragorn throughout, which again is a nod to accessibility for the sake of the youngsters. However, you will be able to grab some upgrades and buffs for your friends, like strength or defensive enhancements, which means the game won’t feel quite so bare. Besides, perhaps the most appealing aspect of the entire production is the motion sensing, which of course is a part of the Wii version and will be a part of the Move-compatible PS3 version. This will involve swinging your wand like a sword, using both pieces of the device to fire arrows, and obviously, general movement. It’ll be interesting to see how the more advanced Move works in comparison to the Wii’s system, although we know Aragorn’s Quest wasn’t specifically made with Move in mind.
For added assistance and in order to promote the more social side of gaming, the title will offer drop-in co-op play. If you’ve got a friend who would like to join you in your noble quest, he or she can always pop in with Gandalf (no split-screen required). You’ll also be able to learn more about the details and lore behind the fabled franchise, as you can locate all sorts of documents that will open the eyes of fans. Provided the motion-sensing feature turns out to be accurate, reliable and entertaining, this should be a game well worth playing. Just be wary that it’s obviously geared towards kids; if you’re a long time adult fan of Tolkien’s stuff, you should probably wait for the next full-fledged interactive take on the trilogy in question. Then again, maybe you just want any excuse you can find to try out your nifty new Move controller this fall…
7/5/2010 Ben Dutka