Best LotR Experience on DS

User Rating: 7 | The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest DS
Yeah, the pickings on DS for LotR fans are pretty dang slim. There's pretty much this or Conquest, and Conquest...wasn't great. To be sure, Aragorn's Quest isn't great either, but it does a decent job of giving fans some guilty pleasure on the go.

Aragorn's Quest follows the canon pretty faithfully -- that is, the movie canon -- and to the game's credit, there are some cool references for folks who've also read The Simarillion and/or Forgotten Tales. The focus here, of course, is on Aragorn's perspective, and you'll basically be hacking and slashing your way through the traditional tale.

For all intents and purposes, this is an action-adventure romp. Sure, Aragorn "levels up," but he doesn't gain stats. The rewards of leveling up are doled out in similar fashion to God of War, earning stat points that allow you to purchase abilities. Health and mana upgrades are likewise acquired through story events, and the gameplay is very straightforward.

Aside from a few quirks and less-than-stellar design choices, Aragorn's Quest is completely solid. You have heavy and light attacks, you can block, and the A button activates your bow; holding the button until you hit a sweet spot on your meter guarantees a critical hit. Once you get the hang of it, combat is pretty fun, albeit simple.

What really sells the experience, however, is the presentation. The game leads you through many familiar settings, and the fan service is commendable. The game also looks gorgeous on DS. At this stage in the handheld's life cycle, we've now seen some pretty impressive 3D fare, and Aragorn's Quest does a valiant job keeping up with the Joneses. There's never any slowdown, the draw distance is really impressive, and all the textures are smooth and detailed. Cool animations, sound effects, and music we've come to know and love make the ends meet nicely.

This ain't a great game -- I'd be lying if I said it was. Aragorn's Quest plays on a very meager selection of notes, but they're satisfying for fans of Middle-earth. If you're simply looking for an action romp on the go, Aragorn's Quest is a decent rental. Tolkien fans (of which I most certain am one), however, will likely get a lot more out of the experience.