Wednesday, June 07, 2006

VG REVIEW: The Da Vinci Code

2K Games, for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC
rated T for Teen (blood, language, violence), $39.99 (con­sole) and $29.99 (PC).

Sometimes, you just know.

Without even opening the book, watching the film or playing the game, you just know it’s going to be really, really bad.

I had that strong, sinking feeling about "The Da Vinci Code." Not the movie, mind you, but the new video game adaptation of the book by Dan Brown. It’s a bit of an obscure title, but maybe you’ve heard it mentioned here or there.

Anyway, I had strong hopes that the game would surprise me, that the nagging voice in the back of my head would turn out to be wrong and the game would turn out to be decent.

But "The Da Vinci Code" turned out to be just as awful as I had expected.

In the game, you play as both Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu (who look nothing like Tom Hanks or Audrey Tatou).

As anyone who’s even read a newspaper clipping about the book knows, the story opens with a murder at the Louvre. The innocent Langdon is fingered for the crime, and he and Neveu start a globe-trotting journey to find the true culprit.

Along the way they come across "the greatest cover-up in the history of man," which just goes to show that Dan Brown didn’t follow the whole Reuben Studdard/Clay Aiken controversy.

But I digress. There are basically three aspects to "The Da Vinci Code" game: puzzle solving, stealthy sneaking and fighting.

The puzzles veer wildly between blindingly obvious and stunningly obtuse. The stealth sequences are pretty much useless. And the fighting — must I really discuss the fighting? Oh, all right.

Rather than have some sort of real-time combat mechanism, you battle mad monks and torpid cops with a button-mashing sequence that resembles "Simon" and most rhythm-based games. I suppose the idea is to make a fighting system simple enough that your "Da Vinci"-loving grandma can handle it.

You just mimic the pattern on the screen while grappling with an enemy and watch a cut scene of your character performing some martial arts moves. As game play goes, it’s a formula that quickly grows stale after about the third fight.

Sadly, "The Da Vinci Code" is yet another rushed movie tie-in that fails to add anything either to the franchise or to gaming in general.

In fact, the game has pretty much destroyed my interest in all things Dan Brownish so that I have no desire now to read the actual book or see the film.

But then I knew it would.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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