Headstrong has also brought one of the more stylistically beautiful games to the Wii, forgoing the bland brown and gray of the films and drenching Aragorn’s Quest in vibrant colors. The environments make good use of bloom lighting, the most dramatic example being when the sun rises or sets and filters golden strands through the trees. The art design is somewhat exaggerated, particularly in the characters, giving the game a fairytale appearance reminiscent of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The shire has a soft, serene quality while the environments that Aragorn explores range from dreary to mysterious to grand and uplifting, reflecting the spirit of various film locations rather than their literal gritty appearance. Again, it all looks a lot like Twilight Princess but creates the same earthy, natural beauty of realistic locations without resorting to the drab, boring colors that you see in so many games these days.
The game’s audio component is surprisingly top-grade as well, doing the epic scale of the movies justice in a game that admittedly concentrates them down into their basic essence. Headstrong brought in Sean Astin and John Rhys-Davies to reprise their roles of Samwise and Gimli respectively, with convincing sound-alikes filling out the rest of the cast. The amount of dialogue from Astin is impressive—he narrates most of the game as it’s always a story that Sam is telling. The accompanying music is particularly good, mimicking recognizable themes from the films but also adding pieces to the shire and incidental scenes. All of the music is orchestral and expertly scored—there isn’t a single throw-away piece in the game and while it’s a little too similar at times to the music from the Fable series it at least has the same sweeping, enchanting quality.
The only real complaint I can make about Aragorn’s Quest is that it’s too similar to the popular game series it borrows from. If you’ve played Zelda or Fable you’ll get a lot of Tolkien-flavored déjà vu playing through Aragorn’s Quest. The game is also incredibly easy, even on the harder difficulties—Headstrong was obviously trying to make this a game that any fan of LOTR could get into.
In that respect, they’ve succeeded. While it may be easy to the point of tedium to an experienced gamer like me, it still offers a rich, well-measured primer to Tolkien’s universe. I wouldn’t call myself a fan now but at least I have a better appreciation for the fiction. Aragorn’s quest is an excellent introduction to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and serves as a greatest hits collection for people who are already steeped in the mythos. It won’t give you much of a challenge but it’s a well intentioned, decently lengthy and entertaining journey while it lasts.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Do you like Lord of the Rings? Do you find it impenetrable and standoffish? Either way, this game is for you. It does a good job of presenting both Zelda-style adventuring and concentrated sandbox gameplay with a Tolkien flavor, combining them into a focused Middle Earth adventure that serves as an excellent Lord of the Rings primer and an expanded highlights reel of the films.
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