The Da Vinci Code Review

The Da Vinci Code is a bit of an enigma. Iím not talking about the book or the movie or even the code, but rather about the game itself. Itís as if the developers couldnít really make up their minds as to what it should be. Is it a movie license or a game based on a book? Is it an action game or an adventure game? Are the players of the game familiar with the book and movie or are they starting the story from scratch? I donít have the answers to these questions, and itís fairly obvious that neither do the developers.

In case you are one of those people starting the story from scratch, let me bring you up to speed. The curator of Parisí Louvre Museum is found murdered on the museum floor. This in and of itself would be shocking enough, but the way in which he was murdered is very strange indeed. The curator is found lying naked on his back surrounded by cryptic messages that he wrote in his own blood as he lay dying. One of the things he wrote was the name of an American professor, Robert Langdon, so the police call him to the scene of the crime. Unbeknownst to him however, he is the policeís chief suspect and they are trying to lure him into a trap. With the help of the curatorís niece Sophie, Langdon must evade the police and unravel the deep conspiracy behind his friendís murder.

Looking for clues.
All of this will be a little confusing to gamers without the benefit of familiarity with the book, and the game tries to cater to them by providing bursts of dialog in which characters stand around over-explaining things. If youíve read the book this will all be very redundant to you and come across as forced and out of place. If you havenít, itís still not enough to go on so you may as well be playing blind. This all plays out like a conversation in which a person very intimate with a particular subject tries to relate it to a person with no background in it whatsoever. This is precisely the position the developers found themselves in while crafting the gameís story, and so what you get is a mix of over explained minutia and missing details that ends up being more confusing than anything else.

The confusion continues in the gameís design. The game is really an adventure game at heart, but the developers have tried to add action elements to it to hold the interest of your typical console gamer. First there are pointless interactions that serve no purpose other than to get you to push a button occasionally, such as tapping a button to open a window or give another character a boost up. And then there are the fight sequences. Man, this game could really do without the fight sequences. I donít remember there being much fighting in the book, but in the game this middle-aged college professor is an army of one as he beats the heck out of countless mad monks and half of the Paris police force. I wouldnít have any issues with this concession to gaming excitement if it werenít for the fact that the fight sequences are really, really lame. Fights begin with someone grabbing on to you at which point you must tap a button to ďgain the upper handĒ in the fight. If you do a sequence of buttons will appear on the bottom of the screen and if you hit the buttons in the right order, youíll increase the damage of your attack. Conversely, if your opponent gets the upper hand you need to match a sequence of buttons to defend yourself. For some odd reason it is really easy to get the attack sequence right, while the defense sequence is so timing sensitive that youíll miss many of the button presses. The fight continues with you trying to align your clunky character with your enemy so that you hit him instead of air so that you can try to get the upper hand again. This nonsense continues until one of you runs out of health. The game does place occasional weapons around that you can use to club somebody, but the controls are too clunky for the weapons to be all that effective. The combat really gets to be tiresome when you face more than one attacker at a time. Itís hard enough to hit one enemy but two is even worse and your attack and defense sequences will be constantly interrupted by the other attacker. If one was looking to buy an action game itís doubtful that The Da Vinci Code would be the first to come to mind, so this aspect of the game is wholly unnecessary.