Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

I used to absolutely hate Tintin. I hated the comicbooks, the tv-show and the old sidescrollers didn't look like fun either. ...I'm sorry Hergé, I was a complete jerk and a moron. Reliving it as an adult I realise what made it so good. It's adventure at its finest, fast-paced and adrenaline filled. Tintin is an awesome character and some of the supportive characters are even more awesome. And now Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson has made a movie based on the comic and Ubisoft made a game based on that movie. Oh dear, let's get this over with...

  • The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn
  • Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier / Published by Ubisoft
  • Reviewed on PC / Available on PC/360/PS3/Wii/3DS
  • Extra Info: Kinect Compatible (360)
  • Extra Info: PSMove Compatible (PS3)
  • Extra Info: Stereoscopic 3D (360/PS3/3DS)
  • PEGI: 12+ / ESRB: E10+
  • Reviewed by: Tobbii Karlsson

Ubisoft has not had a good run of license-based videogames, they've pretty much been down there with publishers like Sega and Activision and just been churning out crap for the sake of cashing in on the movie in question. When Ubisoft revealed Tintin at E3 I immediatly hung my head in shame. It looked like the same crap we see ever fall when there's a big movie coming out. I was wrong, I was very wrong. Tintin is not only a good game, it's a very fun game. It has huge variety in its gameplay and also does most of it very well.

The main style of playing is a 90's Prince of Persia styled platformer, and it actually plays wonderfully. The puzzles are fun and not too hard for the kids it's aiming at, but at the same time it's not dumbfounded so that grown up gamers will feel silly for playing it. Think back to the old days of platforming, games like Heart of Darkness, Flashback, Another World or even last years Limbo. That's sort of the style this game goes for, and it helps the game feel nostalgic even though it's brand new. The level design is rich and varied with a good mix of puzzles and action in-between jumping on platforms and throwing objects around.

That's not to say it's perfect by any means because while the platforming is great, other parts of the game was obviously made for the various motion controls of todays consoles. Like the opening scene flying a plane, and at least on PC with the mouse and keyboard that is not actually fun or engaging, it can even be a bit annoying at times. For example, at one part early in the game you're sword-fighting, swinging the mouse to swing your sword in a on-rails enviroment, this does not work at all thanks to the PC controls, had this been on any of the home consoles I imagine it could have been quite fun.

Thankfully these non-puzzle or platform segments are very short and won't cause too much hassle to get through. And they are not all bad, but they're certainly the low-bar of the game itself. At other points you get to walk around freely and speak to people in order to find out where to go next. At one point you're walking around a small town asking people if they've seen the man you're searching for and it actually felt a bit as if I was doing reporter work. There are also plenty of hidden "treasures" you can find in order to increase replay value..

The story is based on the movie based on the comic of the same name. The game takes a few liberties, but only in order to make it more fun to play. But in order to not spoil the events for anyone who have yet seen the movie or read the comic, I'll just briefly touch on it. The reporter Tintin finds a model-boat for sale, inside the model he finds a piece of paper detailing a mystery regarding three ships, all known as The Unicorn. He learns of a treasure and soon enough he's on the run from criminals after this very treasure and the clues he himself possesses. He travels across the globe to find out the secret and meets new friends such as Captain Haddock, an ancestor of the original captain of the Unicorn. I'll stop there, but let me mention that it's a great story told in an exciting way.

But the tone is changed a bit from the source material. The Tintin game is very kid-friendly, to the point where you'll be fighting off bandits with slingshots and beachballs.Yes, I am serious. Now, this does not make the game any less fun, in fact, with the animation style it actually works pretty well, but for some people it might be a tad too silly, great for the kids though. An actual issue is the pacing however. It's too fast at times, almost as if the game skipped one or two scenes, something that makes the story a bit hard to follow if you don't already know what's going on. A shame seeing as it really tries to tell an interesting story and time from time actually succeeds at it.

Now the visual style is directly mimicked from the Spielberg film rather than the comic, this is something some people will have an issue with, I know, but I personally think it's fine. Too bad I can't say the same for the actual graphical quality. Don't get me wrong, there are rich colours and well-detailed models all around. But the textures are often washed out and there's just not a big wow factor in terms of eye-candy apart from maybe some lighting placements here and there. And to clarify, I played at high visual setting with 2x AA without any lag. So if you have a low-end PC you can probably run it well, so that's the good side of not being a graphical monster.

The music in the game is very forgettable. Gone is the memorable music from the TV-show and instead we get the standard background music you hear in every game. Nothing worth mentioning at all. Thankfully the great voice acting makes up for that. The actors from the movie all reprise their roles and do a tremendous job at representing the characters in question. Other sound effects themselves are pretty well made, nothing worth noting on the bad side or the good side really. Too bad that music just isn't very interesting.

The game has ultra simple controls. Walk with WASD, jump/climb/talk with Right Click, punch with Left Click and pick up things with SPACE. As for the controls on console I have no idea apart from the aforementioned motion controlled segments like aiming slingshot, sword fighting and tossing rope which essentially becomes a dull QTE bit on PC. The reason for this is that every version of the game is the same, so this almost had to end in some bad control choices for some of the platforms. Too bad for us PC playes, but as I said, they're short and simple.

The games is not too diffuclt. You have three bars of health, no health regeneratoin though, that gets depleted by each hit you recieve, if you die you respawn at the latest checkpoint, most often the opening of the room you were in, with your treasures collected as when you died. The game instructs you well on how to do things if you're uncertain of the controls or other gameplay mechanics you may need to know of. To put it short, both you and your child could enjoy this game without getting too much force thrown at you, if you want a game where you die around every corner I suggest taking your money elsewhere however. The game clocks in in about 6-7 hours on your first run, each level is very long split into several chapters. But then you have the extensive co-op mode which is a campaign on its own, which will give you just as much enjoyment!

Tintin is very cheap in stores. I'm not sure why, but it is. In my local store the game costs half the price of the common new game. This in my opinion is great, as it's actually asking for a reasonable amount of money rather than asking me to pay twice what it would cost a month after release anyway. This, along with the fact that it's out there on five platforms, all with the same gameplay, is something I think is deserving of a pat on the back. Good work there Ubisoft, this time you even got the PC version out in time, that's pretty much a first during this generation of games! There's also full localization for languages like German, Swedish, French, Italian and etc. That is pretty common with Ubisoft however.

Now let's talk glitches. I once got stuck on the loading screen for 10+ minutes for loading a result screen, followed by a loading screen. Normally that loading time should take a good 5 seconds or so. Once time I could not even get out of the loading screen but had to tab down the game and tab it back up to continue. I also once got stuck mid-conversation so that I could not move on in the game due to a big dialogue selection being in the way. Another time Snowy (Or Milou if you're European like me) could not finish his tracking segment and I was forced to end the game. This, along with small details like the subtitles being too large and sometimes miswritten, do weight down the game a bit, hopefully they'll be patched out soon enough.

Tintin was a lot of fun, it's not often you see a good 2.5D sidescroller these days, and even less often a good movie-licensed game. If you don't check this, surprisingly cheap, game out you are missing out, pick it up on any console, they're all the same game and should offer you the same experience. In fact, I might pick up the 3DS version as well, so I can re-play this game on travels. I could not be more impressed with what Ubisoft whipped up in such a short time. Great job guys, great job.

Story and Atmosphere: 8/10 - Visuals: 6/10 - Audio: 4/10
Controls: 7/10 - Gameplay: 8/10 - Replay Value 9/10

Final Score: 8/10
Recommendation: Buy This Game
Reviewed by: Tobbii Karlsson

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn was played by Tobbii Karlsson for about 9 hours, this contained one full playthrough of the campaign in solo mode and some testing and replaying done in coop mode.

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