While the level of quality entertainment provided by Steven Spielberg’s latest animated blockbuster, The Adventures of Tintin and the Secret of the Unicorn, doesn’t need to be established, the inevitable video game adaptation tied in with the release of the film does have a lot to prove. Knowing that these adaptations don’t always rhyme with quality, where does this version of Tintin’s adventures stand in the grand scheme of things? Let’s find out!
One thing is for sure, Ubisoft didn’t want to stray too far from the story portrayed in Spielberg’s film. It’s true that when such a big name is attached to a project, you rarely want to mess with their work. As expected, the player ends up spending time controlling the always charming Tintin, his brilliant animal companion, Snowy, and the always appreciated Captain Haddock. The personality of each character is well respected in the transition to the video game format, and fans of Herge’s famous work will be pleased with the amount of detail put into it.
The story of the game is fairly simple. As Tintin and Snowy casually visit the flea market on a sunny day, they stumble upon a small replica of a famous ship: The Unicorn! As they buy it from an old seller who seems to know a lot about this particular replica, they are confronted by a man who is willing to buy it back from Tintin for ten times the original price. Tintin quickly refuses the offer, and the strange man ends up stealing the Unicorn from him. The adventure will then see our heroes on a quest to get the Unicorn back and find out about its mysterious secrets. During their quest they will meet Captain Haddock who will join them on the adventure.
The tale is engaging enough to keep the player going as they slowly reveal the mystery behind the Unicorn and Captain Haddock’s famous ancestor. The cutscenes are well-made and serve as a reward for completing key parts of the game’s six levels. Those who have seen the movie may find themselves a bit disappointed after seeing how short some of the cutscenes are, and how the game has a tendency to cut short certain key moments from the film, perhaps to lure the player into hitting the theaters to see it. We would have appreciated a stronger effort on Ubisoft’s part to connect the levels together to make the experience more seemless.
"We can safely say that this video game adaptation of the popular blockbuster is better than some might expect, but it still has some rough edges to smooth out before we can truly call it a great game."
As previously stated, the game lets you take control of three different characters through the adventure. Tintin has the bulk of it as you control him through most of the game’s platforming sections. Snowy is used to crawl through smaller spaces that Tintin can’t fit in, while Captain Haddock is controlled by the second player, should you decide to play the game’s integrated coop mode (which, in all honesty, doesn’t add much to the experience). Another way to control Haddock is during the flashback sequences involving his ancestor in a sword fight on the original full-size Unicorn ship. These sword fighting sequences are also one of three different ways that the optional motion controls are used in this game; and is where the Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 versions show their differences.
The Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii versions can be played using the standard controllers in their entirety. However, it can also be played using the Kinect sensor, PS Move or Wii Motion Plus for a slightly altered experience. The first of the three phases of the game where the motion controls are used are in the aforementioned sword fight sequences. The players need to wave their hands around to mimic slashing motions. The precision of this system is hit and miss, and the “on-rails” nature of these segments limits the overall impact of this feature. The Wii Motion Plus and PS Move devices were actually preferable over the Kinect sensor in terms of immersion and overall accuracy for this section of the game, with the PS Move being the best choice of the three. The second is the plane segment of the game. The player can use the motion controls to control the plane, and we actually found the standard controller to be the preferable choice for this one. The third section of the game lets you aim directly at the screen while Tintin and Haddock are attacked by enemies in the desert. The added precision of the motion controls were a nice bonus for this part.
Tintin does offer 3D action sequences, but 90% of the action has a more traditional 2D sidescrolling perspective, which is an interesting choice for a game like this. This perspective offers some pretty fun platforming sections, but makes the game feel more repetitive than it should, while also having the unfortunate consequence of making an already easy game even easier. A case in point: Sometimes it won’t even let you press a certain button if pressing it would lead to your death. Instead, the correct button would appear over the character’s head to indicate the correct action that needs to be performed. The game itself is already a bit on the short side, with only about 4 hours of gameplay on average, so making it a little too forgiving doesn’t help its longevity. Furthermore, the ending feels rushed and the overall package just feels like it’s over too quickly. At least the reduced price (40 dollars instead of 60) does help ease the pain a bit.
In terms of eyecandy, the visuals do impress in some aspects, it disappoints in others. The framerate is undoubtedly impressive, and makes the whole experience feel extremely smooth on all platforms, but the sometimes blurry textures emphasize the contrast with the great animations the game offers. The Wii version comes across rather solid considering the limited power of the hardware, but knowing how powerful the Xbox 360 and PS3 are, the owners of those systems have a right to expect more. The overall presentation of the game is still fairly decent, and does give you the impression that you’re living a true interactive blockbuster film, which is a good thing. Also noteworthy is the inclusion of a stereoscopic 3D mode for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.
In conclusion, we can safely say that this video game adaptation of the popular blockbuster is better than some might expect, but it still has some rough edges to smooth out before we can truly call it a great game. The shortness of the experience will disappoint some players and overall, even if it’s an adaptation, the game sticks too close to the movie to truly become a worthy stand-alone experience. At the end of the day, the best thing this game will have accomplished is making me want to see the movie. I suppose it’s a good thing for a promotional product, but it’s less impressive as a standalone video game experience.
Release date : 2011-12-06
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Ubisoft
Gameplay : Action-Adventure
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