The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn review

The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn review

You can read this review in full in our print edition.

Our Christmas 2011 issue, which is on sale November 22, will also feature full reviews and Post Script articles on the season's biggest games, including Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 and Assassin's Creed Revelations.

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Platforming is the beating heart of Ubisoft’s crisp, charming riff on Spielberg’s recent film. The subtlety and nuance of the cast’s movements, from daring leaps to nose-smashing right-hooks, is an artistic delight that keeps the sidescrolling action consistently engaging, even if it does turn out to have more ideas than its slender runtime can cope with.

While the movie taps into the nostalgia vein of Hergé’s original comic strip, the game feeds from the memory of traditional platformers. A gorgeous act set in the Middle East recalls Virgin Interactive’s Aladdin, and there are shades of Chair’s Shadow Complex in the multi-tiered levels and use of three-dimensional models on a 2D plane. Levels are short, simple and sweet: flick switches, raise platforms and knock the stuffing out of goons who are often looking the wrong way. There’s a sense of style over substance, but it’s so breezy and light-hearted that you may not care. This is a movie tie-in not strictly for fans, a sightseeing trip around a beautiful world accessible to all ages.

That world is drawn to life with a retro chic that captures the film’s look carefully and faithfully. The understated architecture and character designs keep your objectives clear at all times, removing the need for laborious signposting as you leap and bound across the hallways, caverns and palaces of the jet-setting yarn. Your journey through the tale is slammed to a halt only when Ubisoft Montpellier tries to mix things up.

Rote grappling-hook sections, camera-challenged plane flying and tedious flashbacks to shipboard swordfighting muddy the experience. The intention may be to steer you away from boredom, but the irony is that the team employs enough tricks as it is; dynamic camera shifts, underwater cave dives and miniature setpieces that have you outrunning impending doom all serve to adequately break up your side-on travels.

A further attempt at variety comes in the game’s co-op mode – a bizarre trip into Captain Haddock’s subconscious providing a playground for the designers to escape the stricture of the movie’s plot, even if it is a tedious game of switch-flicking and crate-pulling. It’s a rabbit hole of silliness geared towards collecting outfits for the lead characters. If the challenge was heightened and the rewards more encouraging (though admittedly Tintin’s giant head mode is a gimmicky treat), it might have added the longevity the package sorely lacks.

For the majority of Tintin’s adventure you’ll be happy to kill time hopping and skipping across its gorgeous stages, but unlike the contours of Hergé’s timeless stories, there’s no hidden treasure to be found beneath its dazzling veneer.

360 version tested.

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