The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn Xbox 360, PS3 Review

October 30, 2011 by  
Filed under PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Features, Reviews

Publisher – Ubisoft – Developer – Ubisoft Montpelier – Genre – Platformer – Players – 1-2 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – Wii, 3DS, DS

Whilst there’s plenty of decent film licenses, because of time constraints and such they nevertheless very rarely feel like a labour of love, however, and are usually uninspired copycats of better games. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is one of those rare film licences however where it’s evident that love and attention has been lavished upon it during its development process.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is primarily a 2D platformer, where you’ll do all the usual jumping across platforms, some of which will crumble beneath your feet, there’s also swinging on chains, and slightly more unusual is that you’ll occasionally have a parrot companion that allows you to fly across a level. As a whole, it never reaches the complexity of a Mario or Prince of Persia though, but levels are nevertheless well laid out and it’s a pleasant and more relaxing diversion from more demanding games.

There are also some fairly frequent combat sections and, being true to the source material, these are fittingly madcap, allowing you to do such things as bring a chandelier crashing down on your opponents heads, place a banana skin on an enemy’s route, and throw a can of paint, or bounce a beach ball into them. However you deal with an enemy, they’ll end up dazed with cartoonish stars surrounding their heads.

Like the platforming it’s lightweight, though each section usually offers a range of options to take out your opponents, and some enemies will run from you, whilst there’s others clad in armour. It’s all enough to keep things interesting, and luring opponents into your traps and figuring out their weaknesses grants a moderate strategic dimension to the fighting.

You’ll sometimes take charge of Tintin’s loyal dog Snowy – following the scent of someone or getting to an area that Tintin himself is too large to access, whilst you’ll also be in control of Francis Haddock, a descendent of Captain Haddock, although these are weak on rails sections, adding little to the game.

The animation of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is fantastic and really does its part in making it more satisfying to play than it otherwise would have been. The visuals as a whole are polished, not technically amazing by any means, but the art direction is strong and those with 3D TV’s can magically make the game come out of their screen.

Less successful are the vehicle sections, which have you in command of a plane or acting as the driver or passenger of a quad bike. They’re perfectly serviceable and grant some variety to the game, but they aren’t particularly satisfying to play and do occasionally outstay their welcome, and many will want them over with to get back to the stronger platforming.

The main game can be completed in less than six hours and never really challenges, though effort has been made to offer additional gameplay hours with a couple of different modes. The challenges are sections sliced out of the main game, though it’s sad to say that it’s the worst part of the game and platforming doesn’t show up at all, leaving it as nothing more than disposable fun. It’s the only area of the game where Kinect and Move are supported and both control schemes work efficiently, though as is often the case, score chasers are better served by the traditional controller.

The Adventures of Tintin and Haddock fares better and is surprisingly substantial and  completely separate from the primary mode, as well as being very enjoyable. It takes place after the main game and sees Captain Haddock knocked out in comical fashion. Gameplay takes place in his dream world, allowing for some surreal moments such as a giant Tintin, and floating heads. It can be played in local co-op and each character has their own abilities, so Tintin for instance has a grappling hook, whilst the stronger Captain Haddock is able to move boxes and such around. It also has more complex platforming than anything that the main game has to offer.

It’s a bit of a shame that The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn isn’t wholly focussed on platforming, and the almost complete lack of challenge is a bit disappointing, whilst its brevity is another downfall. In spite of all of this, it’s a game that is very enjoyable to play and with a heart that you can almost feel pulsing and a soul that you’d almost think could bring the game to life, in that respect it’s a film licence that goes way beyond the usual fare.