Sneaky little hobbitses.
When you read fantasy novels or watch movies, you immediately live in that world. Let's face it, there’s nothing cooler than being a badass warrior in some mystical land and whose destiny is to be a hero and save the universe from utter destruction by the dark lord and his hideous minions. At least it’s better than doing homework or sitting in a cubicle, right? Well, I recently wrapped myself up in Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest
for some fantasy-adventure-filled fun, but this is one game that pushed me to catch up on my homework instead.
The game’s storyline is based on Aragorn’s quests from the Lord of the Ring
’s film trilogy where you explore the mines of Moria
, roam the plains of Rohan, travel deep into Fangorn Forest, and take your last stand at the Black Gate, just to name a few. However, many scenes in the epic story are skipped in order to solely focus on Aragorn, which is fine and understandable, but it feels rushed: You play through the first half of the game escorting Frodo and the hobbits, and next thing you know you’re at the Black Gate with a very large, creepy looking cat-eye shining its gaze on you.
The narrator, Samwise Gamgee, reads the story to his children from the red book in which he had written the story. The children seem to be very much intrigued, listening intently, but I envied them because I wanted to be intrigued too. Not only was I not attached to the story, but the dialogue emphasized the storyline’s lack of depth. Important lines such as Arwen's “It is mine to give to whom I will. Like my heart.” and Aragorn's "My friends. You bow to no one." simply lose its importance.
The majority of the time, the characters do not talk out loud (with the exception of Sam), so the dialogue is written out for you to read. Occasionally, famous lines from the trilogy are thrown into their respected scenes of the game. However, that’s the problem: They are thrown into specific scenes while other scenes are left without it, making the game’s overall storyline extremely anticlimactic and rather phony.
There are two roles you play as: Frodo Gamgee and Aragorn. Frodo Gamgee, if you recall, is the son to Samwise Gamgee. In the Shire, hobbits are currently bustling around preparing food and decorations in anticipation for the King’s (Aragorn) visit. There, young Frodo is assigned different tasks that teach you how to wield a sword, block with a shield, aim with a bow, and eventually ride a horse. Once the tutorial is completed, you go to Sam to begin Aragorn’s story and you then switch to Aragorn’s role. So why the game bothers to include Frodo in the first place is beyond me.
Both in the Shire and Aragorn’s storyline, you have the option to complete side quests, where you collect an array of items such as weapons, coins, and orbs. When you look for items in the menu, though, you realize that you actually have to purchase them with the coins you earn—why the ‘eff do I have to pay for something that I found or was given to me?
Second, the orbs you collect represent an increase in attack and defense for Aragorn, Legolas
, or Gandalf, but there is no chart or pie graph to be found. Luckily, the AI seemed to know what to do regardless if the orbs helped or not. They swarmed the enemy, distracted them, and killed quite a few without my aid, but I still have no idea if those orbs actually helped me in the fight for Middle-Earth.
During combat, there are certain techniques that stun the enemy or kill them completely, but executing them successfully with the Wii-mote requires patience. At times, the game prompts you to use your shield to bash the enemy, throwing it off balance and giving you time to do a lunge attack, or the game specifies a certain direction - left, right, up, or down - on how to swing your sword. The Wii’s motion controls are, at first, difficult to get used to. When I try to lunge, my disobedient character decides to do an upward swing with his sword instead. Perhaps it was just me and my clumsy arm, or maybe the game is secretly sabotaging the controls making it more of a challenge for me to play.
However, you have plenty of enemies to practice on, each with different weapons, armor, and styles of fighting; all creating some challenging and epic battles. The most fun you have in combat is when you learn how to ride a horse. You and your trusty steed fight off uruk-hai, goblins, orcs, and even
oliphants. You also have the option to have Aragorn lean in on his horse, hold his spear, and charge right through a grotesque crowd of Sauron's minions. Admittedly, I found myself using this technique over and over and so will you.
Other than your sword, you can also use a bow, which requires a steady hand and more patience. While you aim the cursor over an enemy, the camera restricts your view at times, so you’re required to use the zoom-in feature and manually move the camera to your desired view, causing the whole process to take longer than it should. While it takes you
two minutes to set up a shot, somewhere in another fantasy world, Legolas is shooting five arrows within a span of five seconds.
Even though the combat is weakened by the controls, it is the best part of the game. Whether it be fighting off three trolls at once or charging through goblins on your steed, it’s just pure frolic. The game’s biggest flaw is its story, which is ironic due to the fact that the Lord of the Rings
trilogy is all about its story. I wanted to be a part of this fantasy world, I really did, but between the ineffective dialogue and rushed scenes, it just didn’t hold my attention. This is one fantasy-adventure you may want to miss out on.