Herge's Adventures of Tintin...
I can still hear those familiar echoes in my head as I write this, based on the animation that I loved so much as a kid. Tintin is something that is very close to my heart. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the video game adaptation is actually a pretty solid romp into Tintin's adventures and according to what I have heard about the film, a far more faithful adaptation too.
It's a movie tie-in game, so basically expect it to follow the plot of the film and do a much better job with Tintin than the movie does.
The gameplay is a mix of various styles, it all hangs together seamlessly though and very few issues abound. It is a game that is delightful and a joy to play that doesn't skimp on control nor does it get caught up in terrible sequences that make no sense whatsoever. It comes from the folks at Ubisoft Montpellier and they brought us such wonderful little gems as: From Dust. Michel Ancel, the mastermind behind Rayman and behind Beyond Good & Evil is also heavily involved and that shines through the whole game.
You can see right from the get go, when you select a level using the gorgeously hand-drawn map that the game brims with this kind of design. Loading screens are an animated echo-homage to the Tintin, Snowy and yellow spotlight of the animated show. It brought a smile to my face many a time as I played this game, a warm fuzzy feeling that you don't often get from a movie to game tie in.
Then you have the gameplay aesthetic itself, the 2d comic panel design and the art style combine to echo, and support Herge's work. It doesn't quite evoke the art of Tintin, but it's the play that matters to be honest. The game features a main linear story, which is expertly crafted with many sequences that involve tactics, action and puzzles. There are some lovely 2d side-scrolling sections that bring to mind Flashback, Prince of Persia and other such wonderful video game memories from my early years.
It's able to take you though daring adventures, hanging onto the side of a boat one moment and intelligent use of puzzles the next, using a flashlight to illuminate a darkened room. It smacks of clever design and even though there is a definite linear path, the ideas are sharp enough that the whole game isn't bogged down by endless boring sequences or frustrating mechanics.
The A button does the lion's share of the work here, with it being responsible for all manner of context sensitive actions. Climbing, rolling, jumping and so forth. Combat is on a different button and allows Tintin to throw basic punches and attacks, which are for the most part sufficient to take down the bad guys that he has to face. Of course, you can use your head and trigger some nice little sequences that involve the environment. My favourite was using a carefully aimed projectile to bring a chandelier crashing down onto a group of bad guys. They fell to the floor with little stars circling their heads in true Tintin style.
For those of you with a slapstick mindset, you can always employ the old banana skin trick!
It lacks the pop of a really good looking title, but what is there works and is fairly faithful to Herge's work. There are no noticeable flaws and whilst some textures appear a little flat here and there, it's got that Herge comic book feel to it.
I would say that Tintin is lovingly animated all across the board, the characters all have that unique charm about them and Snowy is a wonderful recreation of a fan favourite. Combat is fun and well animated and the traversal sections are also well done.
The AI provides a challenge but never becomes overly frustrating.
There are no issues with the physics of the game and whilst it doesn't boast insane levels of PhysX etc, what's there does the trick.
Good sound design marries well with the overall experience; there are no audio issues and the spot effects are well, spot on.
The music is wonderfully done, evoking the themes of the show and fitting the world in which the adventure is set.
With a good quality voice cast the voice work on the game is great. There are some truly shining performances here and the cast do a great job.
The dialogue is smartly written and well designed.
Co-op is local only with no online play. It takes place during Captain Haddock's nightmares and is a surreal romp, adding a little bit more value to the whole package and providing a few more hours play for you and a friend. Since it also takes place outside of the movie's narrative it's a good example of what the dev team can do when the shackles of movie story are removed.
It would be nice perhaps if Ubi could patch in online support.
I really like this game, it's not a blockbuster title and a few issues with game length are a bit of a concern. It is fun though, a lot of fun. I can't help wondering what the team that brought Beyond Good & Evil to the table, could do if given free reign outside of a movie based story. Rather like Rocksteady were able to do with both Batman titles - I personally would love to see a Herge's inspired Tintin game free of those shackles and hopefully Ubisoft might consider looking in that direction at some point.
All in all though, grab this one if you're a Tintin fan. It's also one for the kids.