|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montpellier|
|Release: December 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence|
by Shelby Reiches
Licensed games in general have a pretty shoddy history, save some shining gems (which include the recent Batman games). Those based on upcoming movies have generally been doubly so, and if the movie and its corresponding game are aimed at a younger set, that's the death touch. It's especially impressive, then, that The Adventures of Tintin: The Game, is a competent platformer that, at times, shows flashes of brilliance. So what did Ubisoft do differently?
First of all, the game hasn't butchered the movie's story. Too often, when a game comes out ahead of a movie's release, it either only tangentially touches on the story of that movie, a la Transformers: Dark of the Moon, or butchers the plot into an unrecognizable pulp, clearly designed more as a companion device to whet movie-goers' appetites for the actual feature. Tintin's story feels complete, with a logical progression from each locale to the next and explicit and purposeful links between events. One gets a feel for the characters themselves, as well as their development, as they move through the game, and it feels good. Other movie tie-in developers should take note.
Secondly, it controls well. Very well. Platforming is fluid and natural. I never felt that I was fighting with Tintin, Snowy, or Haddock to make the character do what I wanted him to do. There's an excellent texture to the motion, with good weight and a terrific sense of momentum, with detailed animations that serve to preserve the continuity between different movements. This isn't a specific area in which movie tie-ins need to improve, but a general note about platformers that stretches back to the original Super Mario Bros.: making the controls precise and making them intuitive are two very different things. The Adventures of Tintin finds a balance far from the extremes of Super Meat Boy and Prince of Persia. Combat is awkward and clunky, with stilted melee mechanics, but that seems to be intentional, as there is almost always a better way to dispatch enemies than punching them repeatedly.
Then there's the audio-visual experience. The Adventures of Tintin has a simple, clean look that apes the design of the upcoming movie and successfully translates it into something eminently playable. The environments are distinct and interesting, colorful and engaging. This applies to the characters as well, who are skillfully acted both during cutscenes and in their ambient dialogue as they move through the game. I caught myself stopping to listen to the enemies talking while they were still unaware of my presence. They were often good for a laugh, particularly in the co-operative game mode, during which they reference the absurd premise of the "Tintin and Haddock" experience. The music is bombastic and suitably epic, the majority of the sound-effects clear and satisfying, with impacts accompanied by a musical tone a la Zelda.
There are some niggling annoyances, however, such as the strange form of polysyllabic tourette syndrome that Haddock seems to have inherited from his ancestor. He's constantly blurting out "blistering barnacles," calling ne'er-do-wells "bashi-bazouks," and going on about "diplodocuses" and "interstellar pirates." It's all very surreal and distracting, particularly since his ambient dialogue consists almost entirely of such utterances. Also, while most of the characters are caricatures, modeled with various exaggerated features, Tintin seems designed to look more realistic and falls right into the uncanny valley as a result. It's good that one doesn't see him up close too much, because it's creepy when it happens. More frustrating, the video segments seem to have been constructed with the in-game engine, but are pixilated, lower resolution, and run at a significantly slower frame-rate than the game proper, which is just jarring.