The life of a reporter can become one filled with danger-filled, thrill-seeking adventures, depending on the individual’s chosen coverage topics. Such is certainly the case with Tintin – the fearless and fictional seventeen year-old Belgian reporter many know from the iconic comic strip, The Adventures of Tintin. Beginning its print run in the early part of 1929, the adventure and mystery-filled stories made their titular hero a European icon, along with his creator, Georges Rémi. That colourful and unique French fiction has ended up becoming popular around the globe. In fact, its popularity is so far-reaching that its premise was recently used as the source for Steven Spielberg‘s latest film.
To complement the expected popularity the film would receive in its native Europe, as well as other locations spread throughout our planet, Ubisoft was tasked with creating a complementary video game. Featuring a relatively lengthy title, The Adventures of Tintin: The Game, is now available on just about all of your favourite video game devices. It originally launched in its native land, alongside the movie, but both are making their way to North America. This interactive product is available now, for a reasonable forty dollar price tag. If you’re a big fan of the strip, then you’re surely interested in finding out more, so let’s discuss the Xbox 360 version’s positives and negatives by getting down to brass tax.
If one was to label this interactive project with a specific genre, then the best description possible would be to mention it as being a two-dimensional platformer. Essentially, that’s exactly what this experience boils down to, although there are elements of other genres such as action/adventure, puzzle, racing and flight combat. There’s a lot of content to be found within the game, no matter which hat it’s wearing at a specific time. One of the best things about this is that it translates into monetary value, delivering a lengthy game for a budget price. However, there are times where its core mechanics and their simplicity become overly repetitive, making long play sessions become a bit boring.
Once the inaugural loading screens finish and the game’s main menu pops-up, gamers will notice a surprising amount of playable content. In fact, there are three separately-listed game play modes, including a thirty-chapter movie-based campaign, a co-operative mini-campaign with more than twenty individual stages and a few different types of challenge modes. The latter list includes twenty-eight plane, sidecar and sword challenges, where ratings are awarded for time and score-based results. Needless to say, you’re going to be playing this one for quite a while if you wish to complete each mode. It’ll last even longer if you go for one hundred percent, but we’ll talk more about that later.
As you can surely expect, the included film story campaign is the bread and butter here, using diverse stages to tell its action-packed story. In this main campaign, players are tasked with helping Tintin and company find three unique scrolls. A three-part treasure map, the scrolls have all been carefully hidden inside of specific model ships. The ships themselves, were created in the image of the Unicorn – an infamous sunken ship, with a legend surrounding it. They say that the vessel’s captain destroyed his own ship and betrayed his men, in an act of cowardice. That legend, the scrolls and careful sleuthing, are the keys to discovering the hidden treasure which they are linked to after many years. There’s a catch, however. Our favourite adventurous reporter and his friends, are not the only ones looking for the legendary scrolls.
Most stages feature Tintin, his dog (Snowy) and a newly-discovered friend (Captain Haddock), exploring two-dimensional areas ripe with platforms, switches, jumps and enemies. In these predominantly featured areas, it’s the player’s role to use smarts and gaming skill, in order to figure out how to get from point A to point B efficiently while using our titular hero or his canine best friend. The occasional hairy set-piece accompanies rather straight-forward and methodical side-view platforming, providing moments of intense chaos.
Deadly falls and baddies are the two main things to watch out for, with the latter used for both comic relief and an evil threat. They can be taken out through quite a few different methods, including basic punch combos, sneak attacks, thrown objects (pots, poison, balls, barrels,) and slippery banana peels. Watch their routes intently and you’ll find a weakness with relative ease, as this game is one that doesn’t require great gaming chops to complete, presenting family and newcomer-friendly material.
For the most part, the utilized mechanics found in these sections are pretty easy to use and understand. The game’s overall design (even outside of its core two-dimensional platforming with its outside-looking-in camera), is pretty simple and straightforward. However, there are times where players will curse at the screen due to an unexpected death at the hands of slow-moving characters and jump mechanics which could’ve used a bit more finesse. These moments are relatively rare, but they do pop-up occasionally. An added dash button or improved avatar speed, could have aided this problem’s cause. Luckily, you’re not punished for dying in this mode. It’s a good thing because those lives lost mean next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, apart from some wasted time.
Throughout the grand adventure, which takes thrill seekers on a trip told through current day content and some occasional historical dreams, several different environments are showcased. Prepare to explore underground passageways, hidden storage areas, a forgotten castle and the high seas, among others. Those areas all fall into the platforming location category, with desert roadways, ship planks and sky-ways also factoring in via secondary stage types. One will have you flying through the air, avoiding storms or shooting down enemy planes, while another will task you with speeding through the desert while taking out enemy motorcycles and tarp-covered trucks. Those two work relatively well, although somewhat ‘floaty’ controls and generic mechanics keep them from being standouts.
Out of the three types of variety-inducing side missions, the sword-based flashbacks to the pirate-filled sixteenth century water-ways, are easily the least interesting. Here, players are tasked with taking out invading swashbucklers, using quick swipe sword attacks and methodical parries which occasionally require luck because time for thought is a luxury. The standard grunts are easy to take out, just by pushing the joystick forward or sideways repeatedly. Some of the tougher ones require parries and thought, but their combat mechanics are still very basic and uninspired. To me, these sections dragged the experience down a bit, although they were required for storytelling means.
From start to finish, one can expect to jump, fly, drive and hack their way through this core campaign in about four to five hours, give or take a bit. It’s not very long, including several different levels which are broken up into individual, five to twenty minute chapters. It’s a decent romp overall, providing content that is certainly above average when compared to other licensed movie and television games. However, there are areas where a bit of extra thought could have made a huge difference. Perhaps adding in some more varied, challenging and interesting platforming stages could have lessened some of the repetition that is created. It’s not that any of those levels are bad by any means but, doing the same thing quite often, can become a bit taxing. At least the odd swimming and parrot flying (you read that right) sections are included, to infuse the game with an added bit of brief variety.
Acting as a second campaign of sorts, is Tintin and Haddock mode, where the titular hero’s seafaring ally has been knocked into a dream-filled unconscious state. It brings with it more than twenty co-op ready stages. Since its main focus is on providing multiplayer action with a variety of unlockable characters (who each have quite a few varied skins available for purchase), it’s easy to draw comparisons to the recent LEGO video game releases. Playing with a friend via local co-op, isn’t necessary, but it can add a bit of extra entertainment into the decent but repetitive proceedings.
While this mode’s stages and hidden collectibles add content and required searches, its penchant for focusing on platforming stages is something that doesn’t alleviate the core campaign’s most repetitive feature. Almost every level is a romp from left to right, over and under platforms of varying sizes. This can become an annoying detractor.
Those looking for one hundred percent completion and the title’s full achievement allotment, will probably spend the most time playing through this part of The Adventures of Tintin: The Game. Finding every one of the ten plus collectibles scattered throughout each stage, requires two to three play throughs, using different characters. Each one has his or her own special move, including Haddock’s ability to move heavy crates, and the Thom(p)sons’ mechanically helpful canes. The female opera singer who is introduced half-way through the main story, is required to find a lot of the hidden golden pieces, as her shrill voice can break glass blockades. Factoring in at least a few hours for each play through means that you’ll be looking for gold for a hefty amount of time.
Over the course of the twenty-odd dream levels, floating head and devious pirate boss fights will be found and conquered without too much of a problem. Their inclusion spices things up a bit, as the only other varied content found within, comes in the form of several short sidecar and underwater stages. It would have been nice to have seen more of those two types, but that isn’t the case here. In fact, focusing a bit more on adding variety, could have made this a much more interesting two player romp. As it stands, it’s decent, although requirements for a second player are noticeably absent. It’s easy to get through this second campaign without a friend, though their help can become useful during the odd segment.
What the third mode presents is a mixture of content which is already found inside of its peers. Twenty-eight challenges take on three different core types, with variations found within a couple of those. Examples include timed flight circuits, point-based sidecar driving stages (complete with lots of enemies who easily succumb to a super-powered slingshot,) and increasingly difficult variations on the swordplay action found in the main game mode. This challenge mode is relatively lengthy, including some decent content, although there’s certainly room for improvement within the core mechanics found in all three main types. Most are easy to get gold on, with some featuring easy platinum ranks. However, in order to get good scores, it’s recommended that you use a controller instead of Tintin‘s rather imprecise Kinect controls. This is the only place where those even become an option.
In my opinion, the best part of The Adventures of Tintin: The Game would have to be its presentation. The development team at Ubisoft Montpellier did a fine job of bringing the artistically animated film’s look into video game form. This game looks quite good, with some nicely rendered characters and quality use of aging sepia tones, which bring to mind classic eras from the early to mid twentieth century. Although some environments tend to be used a bit much, each one happens to be detailed, with some relatively impressive unique elements (water, foliage, etc). Though, there is one major issue that mars this department: hard to miss pixelation during some cutscenes.
When it comes to its included audio, it’s hard to fault this title’s rather rich and quality sound. There’s an assortment of original period music that fits like a glove, alongside some very strong voice acting which really brings the experience to life. It’s all complemented by solid sound effects which aren’t memorable, although they do the job without issue. The sound design team deserves a pat on the back, especially since almost all of the aforementioned sounds are boisterous and full.
After spending a decent amount of time completing each mode in The Adventures of Tintin: The Game, I must say that this is a relatively fun and above-average licensed game. Though, it can be easily said that the potential is there for a superior game. Its mechanics are relatively sound although they never step outside of a created comfort box, to a noticeable fault. Despite that fact, the game is still very inviting and easy to get into, despite becoming rather formulaic and repetitive after a little while.
In the end, if you’re looking for a lengthy and relatively polished movie tie-in game, this is one to check out. It’s certainly better than most of its peers. However, some more time in the proverbial development oven, and an infusion of unique variety, could have gone a long way in making this an even better game. Regardless of its faults, the property’s fans should certainly enjoy this release.
This review is based on a copy of the game that we received for review purposes.