Movers and Shakers

Hello and welcome to the debut of a brand new column here at DieHard Gamefan. Thanks to the debut of the Sony Playstation Move, the continued existence of the Nintendo Wii and the oncoming arrival of the Kinect from Microsoft, there is now an abundance of games either on the shelf or in development which are controlled exclusively via motion controls. You can look forward to some impressions not of the games, per se, but rather how they use the motion controls. Are they being lazy and just giving you prompts to waggle every so often or are you actually doing something akin to what your character is doing on screen?

I’ll start the column off with a look at Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest. The game was a Move launch title, and it was easily my first choice as the game I wanted to break in my Move with. The game itself is a much more sanitized kid friendly version of the War of the Ring, and perhaps I should take that into account when looking at how they handled the controls, but I can’t. The fact is that your character wields a sword, and you are often expected to swing that sword at enemies. The Move wand takes the place of your sword, and you are expected to swing your “sword” this way and that, often according to how the game tells you in order to score greater damage. Unfortunately there is a definite lag between when you give your command to swing the sword and when Aragorn actually delivers his blow. This might be fine early on in the game when you are facing one or two opponents at a time, but later on in the game when you are waging war on Sauron’s armies things can get a little sticky. It got to the point where I was forced to use the secondary attack almost as often as the primary, because that was achieved with the press of a button, and buttons are instantaneous.

Aragorn’s Quest also has you test your skills as an archer from time to time. You press a button on the left “nunchuck” to go into first person view and then press the T trigger on your wand, letting go when you want to loose your arrow. The problem I suppose is that you never actually see your bow, and you aim at your targets in a manner similar to any light gun game. When you are on target a red circle highlights your foe, as if you were some sort of Aragorn Terminator cross breed. The controls work well enough, it’s the graphical issues I have with Archery which cause me the most problems in this mode.

Some spells are controlled via the wand in game, and I found that they too lagged when you were trying to implement them. One spell which basically tells you where to go, relies on you pressing and holding the Move button for a short period of time. Another spell has you pressing the Move button and waggling the wand. This wouldn’t be a problem except for that lag I mentioned, which would often cause the one spell to appear when you were trying to get the other out. Very frustrating at times.

I actually found myself thinking about things the developers missed out on while playing the game. Aragorn carries a torch at times, but you can’t control how he uses it. No aiming it this way or that to see if something lurks in the deep dark, and there ARE stages where that would apply. And while the game is not Gandalf’s Quest, it seems wrong to have this nifty glowy wand in my hand and not be able to yell “You shall not pass!” at the Balrog while thrusting the controller down in some motion, you know?

So there you have it. The motion controls found in Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest are unresponsive and laggy, and do more to take away from the gameplay than they do to immerse you in the world of Tolkien’s ring.

Look forward to more Columns in the future, in which I’ll give my impressions of some other Move games, the Move controllers themselves, and possibly something about the Wii or Kinect. Until then, keep on moving.

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