The Average Gamer

Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn Review (PS3)

Carpathian Caterpillars, it’s Tintin and he’s back in a new adventure!

As a child of the late 70’s I grew up with Tintin – not in English mind you, but in French – so I was looking forward to the movie but dreading the video game. Why? It’s rare to find a video game that’s a movie tie-in and multi-platform that’s any good. Unfortunately, they tend to look like they were developed for the lowest common platform (yes, I’m looking at you Mr Wii).

Showing its movie credentials, the game starts off by throwing you straight into a flying plane before giving you the title sequence. There doesn’t seem to be any real warm-up to the story but this appears to be a classic children or young teens game, so jumping straight in to the action works well.

Now, being a children’s game, Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn been designed to appeal to the largest possible audience. It’s not a first-person shooter thank god, there are too many of them around these days. The game has a mixture of play types; the old school 2D sideways-scrolling platformer, 3D driving and flying, and a few areas that are 3D third person.

The thing is, the 3D sections are very much on rails and you can’t control the camera. They do feel a little out of place since the majority of the game is spent doing the platform levels. Especially annoying was the flying sequences – it’s easy to get lost and try to fly out of the route that’s on rails. In a canyon for example, you can’t just fly out into the sky. Instead you are forced for no real reason to fly through a maze. Another area has you hunting down planes but I’d used boost and had no idea where the planes were once I’d shot past. Took ages of flying around to finally track them down.

Now there are some fun features in the game that really seem if they just jumped out of the comics. While doing the side-scroller parts of the game you have to take out the bad guys. Instead of just straightforward punching, the game has some amusing alternatives. You can use a beach ball to take down a butler by bouncing it off the walls or even just hitting them with it.

Another great move is to hide in a barrel. Tintin will sneak around inside the barrel, approach a bad guy and hit him with the lid. All the different ways to take out the bad guys are pretty cool – you can even stealth attack one guy and use him to take out another if they are standing nearby. Of course being Tintin, no one actually dies. Instead they get knocked out, as shown by the classic burst of stars circling their head.

One of the biggest let-downs of the game had to be the cut scenes. The first time one appeared I thought “Wow, did they even look at this?” The cut scenes showed heavy artifacting on the PS3, probably due to either heavy compression or low resolution rending in the first place (hence my previous dig at Mr Wii). In-game graphics are fine. Although the graphics are basic they do work for the game, and had a hint of the styling from the graphic novels. It’s just a bit of a let-down when you compare them against games from even just a year ago, let alone the graphical masterpieces being released today.

There are some other little bits to nitpick on. Tintin says “We’re completely out of gas” yet Tintin is from Belgium. Surely it should be “fuel” rather than an Americanism? Later in the game when I was driving for some reason Tintin told Hadock to “hurry up and drive” (sic) yet he was sitting in the side car shooting at the bad guys. Sure they are minor, but they were so glaringly obvious that I had to mention them.

So what would Georges Rémi think of the game? That’s a tough one. It’s stayed true to Tintin in storyline, but I felt the developers tried to please too many people and mixed in too many different types of play style. All said though, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I really did enjoy the game and actually played it straight through in two sittings. That’s not to say it’s short. The main story line is not taxing but there’s plenty extra to do afterwards. I’ve yet to convince someone to come over and help with the co-op modes however you can also play these by yourself. I won’t spoil the extra game play by saying what takes place. It’s still a platformer and gets a bit whacked out.

Would I recommend it? Yes if you are a massive Tintin fan, and liked the movie, or you are buying a game for one of the younger generation. It also really works for casual gamers since there’s no real difficulty and it’s an enjoyable experience. On the other hand, if you are gamer it’s a lot harder to recommend when faced with the current release of games, and even more so at the retail price. In my opinion they should remove the non-platform parts, improve the cutscene graphics and re-release as a PSN/XBLA downloadable game.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn is out now for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC and 3DS.

Curious about the verdict? Read our review policy.