The Lord of the Rings as how it should be done.

User Rating: 7.5 | The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest DS

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest is geared as a family friendly introduction to The Lord of the Rings. After Conquest came and went, most people were hoping that this one would succeed. In my mind, I think it has.
If you've never read the books or watched the movies, and are a hack n slash fan, you'll like this game. If you've watched the movies, read the books, and are a fan of the series, some of the errors might annoy you. But some of the errors enhance the game and add to the game a nice degree of toughness others, though it may annoy you if you've read the books.

The basic premise of the game is King Aragorn (also known as Elessar and Strider) is coming to The Shire to bestow an honour upon Sam Gamgee; Frodo Baggins having left for the Undying Lands in the West. In anticipation of the king's arrival, Sam tells his children the Story of Aragorn and how he claimed the kingship during the War of the Ring. There are seventeen chapters, some end in a boss fight; others end when you get to the end of the level. Each level has 3-5 areas you have to fight through. Each lasts (depending on the difficulty you're playing on 20-45 minutes. This time also depends in your skill level.
You play from several locations in the books and the movies as Aragorn. In the Wii version, you have allies fighting alongside you, but here its just Aragorn doing all the heavy work. The others chime in occasionally to update your goals and tell you what you have to do to complete the current goal. (Find three pieces of wood to build a bridge) is an example. Gimli will crack a few gruff jokes (an Orc gets smashed by a rock into the Minas Tirith wall. Gimli: "Talk about getting stuck between a rock and a hard place") But there really is no voice acting except for Sam as he tells the story between chapters. Its kinda disappointing in a way because it would've added something to the game. But it is also nice that there is none due to it also getting annoying after a while, especially if you've passed it before.

Gameplay is a hack and slash with some RPG elements and it goes quite smoothly. You hack and slash or shoot arows to defeat your enemies as you make your way to the next objective. It might be finding Frdo or trying to find the next camp of Bandits or Orcs. You level up as you complete quests and defeat enemies. When you level up, you earn an ability point, which you can spend or save as you desire. All the abilities are very helpful especially when facing off against two or more enemies that keep blocking your attempts on their lives and the Trolls that you encounter. The boss fights are quite satisfying. For example, you climb the Cave Troll and hack his head. Eventually he'll sweep you off. In Two Towers, you can only hurt Lurtz when he gets his sword stuck in a statue. I always thought that was unfair. In this game, you face Lurtz in man to man combat; both sides able to block with no cheap shots. That was my favorite boss.

Some of the tougher enemies like the bigger wolves will maul you to death if you don't throw them off. Should you fall in combat, it never feels cheap due to you gaining a bit of health from fallen enemies, Athelas leaves you find in crates, an ability you can buy with earned ability points and healing pools which are few, but you will need them in certain levels to stay alive.

The enemy, (depending on the difficulty you're playing on) will act according to what difficulty you're playing on. When playing on the hardest difficulty, prepare to die, for the enemy knows how and when to block, as well as how to make you move around so that the enemies can outflank or attack you from behind. The captains also have the ability to power up or heal their subordinates, depending what you're fighting at the time. Enemies also appear on the field of battle in a few intresting ways. They will climb up ladders, down mountainsides, up cliffs and through doors. When they climb down walls and mountains, they appear right in front of you so you barely have time to prepare for their appearence. You can also knock the enemy off walls, cliffs and ladders for instant kills. Spider Matriarchs have the ability to spit poison or a web which renders you helpless and immobile, for a few seconds allowing the enemy to smack you several times. Archers also make an appearance in certain areas where they are unreachable except by bow. Sometimnes, there is cover you can hide behind if you duck. Makes for some intresting shooting matches. Other times, the archers support their allies and shoot at you as you try to kill the melee troops.

There is also an arena mode where you can attempt to pass a few
objectives, such as defeating a certain number of enemies, or use certain abilities a set number of times. Its even better if you can do it in under a certain time. If you die, your chance is over. If you defeat all the waves of enemies, then you win. The enemies you encounter here are harder and faster than their in-game counterparts. You also face a variety of enemies and even a few bosses.

But the game doesn't do graphics well. Its passable. The Wildmen that you encounter have long hair, and every time you change a sword, it changes shape and size. The Elven sword has a slight curve to it. The Gondorian Greatsword looks bigger and thicker in game and it shows. When
you change tunics, the colour of Aragorn's tunic changes to reflect what he's wearing. The Orcs that you see look good genrally, though half their face is hidden by a helmet. The Moria orcs though, look very strange. They have spikes on their back and in one closeup, it looks terrible. You also encounter wolves and those look good in general form as well. The spiders you encounter are plain brown, though the matriarchs you encounter look hiodeous in a good way. The enviroments look very nice. The water crashes against rocks, the rain falls; stone walls collapse, debris lies everywhere in a few levels. In Minas Tirith, you can see the outline of Mordor's skyline. On the Pelennor below, you can faintly see a trebuchet and the grass. In Moria, Dwarven skeletons lie everywhere; ancient cobwebs exist in corners
and gives off a musty ancient, atmosphere; yet a dangerous feeling lingers.

Sound and music both are good for the most part. You hear snatches of Howard Shore's composition. Though the music sounds good, its the same theme, even for the enemies in some areas. In others, there is battle music that plays when you encounter your enemies. Sometimes, its the only way of knowing that they're there. The sounds of the game are quite nice. You can hear the water running, the rain falling, the water sloshing around. You can also hear battle sounds such as the clash of arms, the hiss of arrows as it misses you, the grunts of the Trolls and the groans of dying Orcs, the howling of the wolves, the wind as it whistles through the mountains and the final groan of Aragorn if he falls in combat. Some sounds don`t sound too good, especially the Balrog that you meet in Moria when it screams at you for the first time; it almost grates on your nerves. The second time it roars at you, it sounds better though. Some of the orc combat sounds are weird. The orcs might also sound a bit strange at times when they see you, but eventually it starts to sound natural, as if they`re taunting or laughing at you. The sounds for the items also have a nice sound. A healing pool has a mysterious sounding ring to it, while levelling up has a triumphant note to it. Some of the boss fight music has the same sound as the enemy music does which is disappointing, beacuse usually the bosses have their own tune. The final boss, however has an evil, yet epic sound for the theme. All music is taken from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

Overall, the game is quite good. Despite a few flaws which are hardly noticeble except for two instances, it is a nice hack and slash game which will keep a person on their toes for a while. Depending on the difficulty level, the enemy may act dumb, or it may act really smart and give you a run for your life. If you`re a Lord of the Rings fan, this game is for you. Even if you`re not and want something decent to add to your collection, I`d recommend this game.