The Adventures of Tintin: The Game
What's this? An iOS movie game that's superior to the Xbox 360 edition? Madness, but oh so true.
Gameloft's The Adventures of Tintin should not be enjoyable. History shows that most movie licensed games fail to capture even a fraction of what makes the respective films entertaining. Not only that, but the Xbox 360 version (created by a different developer) currently has a 64 percent review average. By all accounts, the iPhone and iPad edition should be just as bad, if not worse.
That said, imagine our surprise upon discovering it's one of the year's best mobile games, a smartly designed and surprisingly cinematic adventure that makes excellent use of the touch screen and gyroscope. You should buy this game. Buy it now.
The Adventures of Tintin follows the same plot as the upcoming animated flick, set to hit U.S. theaters December 21. Reporter Tintin unknowingly purchases a miniature ship containing a valuable scroll leading to sunken treasure. A thrilling adventure ensues, whisking our hero to the middle of the ocean and dessert, where he and other characters (including his trusty dog Snowy) engage in a host of activities, from sneaking past guards to sword fighting and flying a plane.
It's the way Gameloft handles all this that makes for such a compelling experience. Yes, you guide Tintin and co. using a virtual analog stick, yet the developers opted for a fixed camera to avoid confusion.
What's more, you don't have to worry about mashing buttons and other tasks better suited for a physical video game controller, as many actions involve that analog stick (reach platforms by tilting left, right, down, up) or simple on-screen commands, like pressing a slider in one direction, or tapping a circle in a timely fashion.
There's also quite a bit of sneaking, as Snowy hops to different boxes to avoid detection while in a chef filled kitchen. Then, Tintin narrowly squeezes between bunks in the ship crew's quarters to retrieve a set of keys.
Normally, tasks such as those would bore us silly, but Gameloft keeps things interesting with beautifully crafted action sequences that make it seem like an interactive movie. You see this particularly during chase scenes, which feature outstanding animation seasoned with light bits of slapstick for good measure.
There are lulls, but the developers held our interest with collectible puzzle pieces and Tintin coins scattered throughout each mission. Grabbing all of the former unlocks puzzles and eventually 3D objects, while the latter lets you purchase additional puzzles from the Shop.
All the while, the voice acting and beautiful soundtrack (likely pulled from the film) remains top notch. It's without question one of the best sounding mobile games we've heard.
Not only that, but it looks incredible given the platform. You have a giant tanker featuring a grimy kitchen, dusty air ducts and metal grates, then a dessert that brings to mind the highly popularized scenes from Sony's PlayStation 3 hit, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Everything about this title, from the detail of characters to the storybook presentation that works in tandem with the accelerometer scream high quality. The fact that the app's universal only sweetens the deal.
Granted, the game has a modest number of issues. The story tends to drag in spots, and the touch mechanic used to grab those aforementioned puzzle pieces and coins sometimes fails to work. Overall, though, The Adventures of Tintin is a wonderful title that manages to rise above the console editions while reinforcing Gameloft's position as one of the top smart phone publishers. Praise well deserved.
Review code provided by Gameloft.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
What's Hot: Indiana Jones style thrills, gorgeous visuals, smart touch and gyroscope controls, impressive animation, nice variety of objectives, unlocked puzzles, universal.
What's Not: Tapping to collect stuff sometimes doesn't work, 846MB download, story drags a bit.