Ubisoft are no strangers to the odd movie tie in game, so being tasked with making a game based on the latest animated movie that is poised to doing the rounds should not be a hard task to bear. In this instance the subject matter is Herge’s Tin Tin, a fictional quiff sporting reporter looking for the next big scoop and – you guessed it – treasure. Tin Tin is based on the comic created by Belgian artist Georges Rémi who adopted the name Herge. The comic offers many adventures for Tin Tin, his trusty dog Snowy and the bearded Captain Haddock which takes the trio all over the world. There’s a lot of comedy and some underlying tones throughout, but mostly the character’s reporting roots are upheld. So with the advent of a new feature length animated movie with Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg’s names on it, has the team responsible for Beyond Good & evil created a movie tie in game worth playing – whether you’re a fan or otherwise.
Tin Tin offers several modes of play for the lone player, and a few more antics if there’s an audience or a couple of players. The story mode vaguely follows the path of the movie it’s based on and acts as the main introduction to most of the gameplay. A secondary adventure mode allows one or two players to jump into Captain Haddock’s mad and wonderful dream world to undertake a series of progressive challenges. Lastly there’s the challenge area which can be played with, or without Kinect and features a series of mini games based on stuff you would have accomplished during the main story.
Now, let’s get this straight from the offset; although some adults may have fond memories of Tin Tin – especially if you’re French – the comic, the game and subsequent movie release are aimed squarely at younger audiences. Therefore expecting a massive sprawling adventure game the delves deep into the depths of the reporters psyche is not going to happen. Here we’re offered more tame levels of storytelling, and for the most part is simple enough for most viewers to understand. The gameplay however is a little different and for the most part feels very much like a collection of mini games merged into a story. What’s intriguing and ultimately keeps players on their toes is the way the gameplay changes frequently. In one instance you might be flying a plane in aerial combat, or platform jumping your way through various rooms all the while sneaking up on enemies for a bit of stealth based action and in the next controlling Spot the dog sniffing out treasure and collecting keys or more dramatically, running away into the camera from gushing water in a tunnel. The variety never lets up, and although naturally you’ll repeat a lot of actions, the way it’s been constructed works well.
Although the gameplay does offer variety, each element – bar the platforming – feels a little too simplistic at times such as when sword fighting which seems way more suited for Kinect by design than part of the main story. Then we’re faced with the upper end of the scale where some challenges become a bit tougher and will possibly puzzle, some players who enjoyed the beginning of the story. That said, those that are finely tuned into what the game expects from you, then navigation and puzzle solving should become a breeze.
Outside of the story, the added adventure in Haddock’s dream world is an extended mode which feels more like an arcade experience rather than story. From your hub you enter levels hunting for items and racking up score so you can purchase unlockable clothing for your characters. What’s neat about this mode is that you’re able to switch characters on the fly to aid in navigating each area. There are several characters from the main story to unlock and each has his or her own special skill which can access new parts of the levels. It all works well, throw in some crazy boss battles and you have a neat game to step into aside from the main story.
The overall look conveys the simplicity of Herge’s comics with the updated visuals of the animated movie although generally offers a more softer look. There are some vivid scenes and locations which do a good job of conveying space and claustrophobia, with enough variety to keep the game from getting visually stale. There could overall be a little more detail but in general what’s on offer works. The character models are worthy of a mention and whilst totally bathed in slap-stick comedy they animate oddly, but well.
The audio is true to the movie with Tin Tin sounding very much like the inquisitive boy you’d expect him to be. His portrayal in this game and the movie at least is of one tough cookie, sort of a boy version of Indiana Jones – having beat up several grown men and been knocked unconscious a few times. Tin Tin is perhaps an enigma, a fantasy character of a man trapped in a boy’s body. Either that or he’s the world’s most diverse young reporter that ever lived. All those doubts and questions are cast aside though, and with the comforting tones of the actors deliveries, it’s easy to see why Tin Tin is well respected.
Other audio such as the driving musical score is dramatic and full on throughout the story assuming parts are lifted from the movie, but what’s interesting is it also dips into more sublime beats and sounds to add to the intriguing nature of undercover Tin Tin. The sound effects are all adequately placed and do as required, as long as your ears are prepared for the familiarity of some comedy standards repeated over and over.
For younger audiences there’s a fair bit to sink ones teeth into as the story mode will take a while to complete, even more if collecting all the hidden gold crabs is your thing. The added adventure mode is also a time guzzler, and with the way it has been designed, to cater for multiple players and plays, means that there’s always scores to beat and collectibles to hunt for – adding on many more hours of play. The local co-op is a grand addition and means that players can share the experience and work together to beat the adventure. The Kinect gameplay is pretty solid as well although basically the same mini game approach taking aspects from the story and giving it motion control. Here you’re flying planes through hoops or dogfighting. You’re able to engage in the sword fighting, or get behind the wheel of a motorbike and sidecar jumping for boosts and pointing to shoot. Some of these are pretty good with Kinect and feel quite natural especially the machine gun action when dogfighting. With a group of players, the mini games are short and entertaining and a neat addition to the overall family experience but not offering so much incentive for lone players.
Tin Tin the game may not be as clear cut as the movie it’s based on but as a game in its own right does tick most of the boxes and remain somewhat compelling and adventurous. Younger audiences shouldn’t have too many problems, other than a few tough moments further into the story, but other than that most of what’s on offer is accessible through and through. The side co-op adventure mode is an excellent addition and almost a game in its own right, the Kinect games are worthy distractions also, the story is diverse and interesting enough to keep butts on seats. So wrapped up in a neat package for fans of Tin Tin, and a generation of gamers who will be a bit more familiar with him after seeing the movie, the game offers a very good slice of gaming that’s worth checking out, and also something older gamers will get some fun from as well if they remove their elder status shackles for a while.