Movie and TV show tie-in web games don’t often impress me on a technical level; it must still be hard to put a value on a good web experience and secure good budget for it. I still check them out, hoping for something that adds to the story. With more than a couple strikes against it on paper, I checked out Last Tango in Jadac.
Last Tango is a tie in of sorts for Canadian show “Zone of Separation.” The show has been running for the past couple weeks, and it a Canadian produced show for Canada’s The Movie Network. They air a lot of the HBO shows if I remember right, and ZOS fits in for some rather graphic content, but still has something of a Canadian look and feel to it. So, we have a Canadian show, a Canadian channel, and all too often out drama productions have something of a shot-on-VHS quality to them.
How good could the game be?
Well, it turns out that it’s technically okay. It’s a sizable flash application and you are presented with a pretty typical first-person-shooter vantage point to walk around a rather small corner of an eastern
Interaction with locals is very limited and restricted to a small number of yes/no type questions. Walk around until you find a prostitute, a porn producer, or a group of civilians and peace keepers. Click and watch a video play, and then get to answer a question. These three options open up another couple options, and you see a single story that weaves between the three threads. The interface is good, and it looks good; there were some competent decent artists, production, and coding staff on this project.
What is missing, however, is a good script. There’s also a couple video elements that could have done with another take or a better actor. It’s almost like the video production staff were phoning it in, and quite surely worse from the writing angle.
Games where you can freely explore an area tend to rely on the player to come to certain conclusions to solve puzzles or make discoveries. When you do things out of order or in an unplanned fashion, the game should be able to either deal with this or forbid it. In the case of Last Tango, you can meet people after they have died and you can meet people for the first time after you’ve already eaten at their home.
I get that dying is part of the game, and I understand that the attempt was to show how futile and wasted life is, and the dying and replaying of elements works. It becomes a problem when blatant inconsistencies happen in a single element of the story line, though.
I played through the game a couple times in the course of thirty minutes, seeing if there were any aspects that had better endings or different scenes, or felt more rewarding… nope. The final credits are nicely done at least.
I felt confused and I felt as if this was little more than an annoying movie that I had to click the screen every couple minutes to move the story along, but that I wasn’t really DOING anything to move the story along. With the exception of the porn shoot and the mine-field version of a very easy dance-dance-revolution, which at least required you to pay attention for a minute.
Last Tango doesn’t really feel like it adds value or builds my interest to see the show, and I’m left wondering what it could have been like with more options, more secrets, and more real interaction. Writing for a game is at least as important as it is for TV or film, but all too often it’s ignored, both in regular platform video gaming and more so on the web. Writing for interactive content can require ten times the script, ten times the shooting hours, etc, all depending on how much content you’re providing. It feels like the script for the TV program is given a much larger chunk cash per minute than the script for a game.
Use the talent you have on the technical end and make this a game that we’d actually like to play. Seriously, is there something wrong with web marketing and promotions companies? Do they not understand the market at all?
The program Zone of Separation airs Monday nights at 10 PM EST on The Movie Network (TMN) and Movie Central. The eight-part TV series chronicles the difficulties facing international peacekeepers, Canadians among them, in a Balkans city called Jadac as they try to maintain the United Nations-brokered ceasefire.