The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest is a retelling of the same classic story from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but in a decidely more family-friendly way. While there are plenty of fighting scenes (including a few intense battle scenes with scores of bad guys onscreen), the game as a whole is presented in a lighter, more colorful way than the often dark and disturbing LOTR movies. The story within is presented as a bedtime tale being told by the hobbit Samwise Gamgee to his young children. As a children's story, he hypes up the adventure, but cuts down on the gore and gloom. The game comes in two versions: The "T" rated version (which is the source for this review) found on the PS3 and the Wii containing intense battle sequences and motion controls; and the less intense E10+ version for the PS2, PSP, and Nintendo DS. The latter is probably still too intense for kids under 10, but certainly more palatable than most other sword-and-sorcery epics out there. The PS3 and Wii versions are most appropriate for kids 12 and older.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Samwise Gamgee, one of the heroic hobbits from the epic saga, narrates LORD OF THE RINGS: ARAGORN'S QUEST, re-telling the classic plot as a bedtime story for his young children. He centers his tale around Aragorn, the man who first protected the hobbits when they were in possession of the legendary One Ring, and were hunted by the forces of the evil Sauron, who wanted that ring in order to rule the world. Aragorn starts off as a sort of bodyguard and, by the end of the tale, becomes king. In the game, you will play as Aragorn, wandering freely through story setting and taking on side quests whenever you like. A second player can join in at any time (and hop out just as easily) and play as the wizard Gandalf, who can not only aid Aragorn, but heal him when necessary. Some side missions can only be played in co-op mode.
Is it any good?
Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest is a lively and colorful retelling of the famous LOTR epic with some nice touches of humor throughout. The fighting has been made rather easy to handle -- a nice way to pull in novices and younger players -- but there's a great deal of depth to the game, thanks to side quests and the ability to hop back and forth between the past (i.e., the events of Samwise's story) and the present (a post-LOTR Hobbiton, where you can run around and play as Samwise's children). This may be an incredibly simplified and abridged version of the Lord of the Rings (although, frankly, for people who were confused by the movies, the clear and concise summation here can be a welcome change), but it's still fun and action-packed. And it feels like a rare treat to find a game that is deep, but not complicated. The two-player co-op aspect is a big highlight, too. Keeping both characters on camera can be tricky at moments, but the strenghs of the two characters were well-designed to complement one another.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in the game. Is fantasy violence better than realistic violence in games such as Grand Theft Auto? Is there a difference between violence with swords and violence with guns? Is sci-fi violence, like Halo, more troublesome than the swordfights of Lord of the Rings?
The Lord of the Rings story has been told in many different formats. How is this telling different from the others? All the main plot points are the same, but the tone and point of view are different. How does this change the effect the story has on you?
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