The Da Vinci Code Review.

Posted by: Jarrodj

The Da Vinci Code Review. - 06/03/06 01:19 AM

Note: This review is based on the XBox version of the game

Okay, odds are you've read the book (65 million copies in print in a mere 4 years. Yeah, it's a record), seen the movie (2nd highest worldwide opening of all time at $208 million bucks), or at least heard of the massive amount of hoopla about Dan Brown's book and the millions of people the book has managed to either entertain, enlighten, or flat out tick off. But while you're (In one way or the other) cracking the code, there's one thing to remember. The Da Vinci Code is a WORK OF FICTION. Now that's not to say that the book doesn't raise some serious questions that you yourself should look into and form your own opinions about the subject at hand, but the Da Vinci Code is not some secret that Dan Brown dug out of a Vatican archive that the Catholic church has hidden for 2,000 years. In actuality, It's a wonderful page turner based around a well documented and interesting theory that Dan Brown (Allegedly) ripped off another book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail. I read the book, and saw the movie opening night (Better then people said). Needless to day that when I saw a Da Vinci Code videogame on store shelves, I wasn't exactly super excited to expirence a story I've already been told twice in another form, but hey, it's an Adventure game on the Xbox, so I had to get it.

Now the story in the game is a faithful adaptation of the now classic tale. In the game, you primarily play as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. He has been called by French police to help with the investigation of the murder of Jacques Sauniere in the Louvre museum. When you arrive, you find the man killed by a gunshot to the gut, but it seems he has left some hidden messages for you to decipher. A little after you arrive, a young cryptologist by the name of Sophie Neveu (Who you also play during the course of the game) comes with a message for you. It turns out that the French Police have fingered you and are going to try and force a confession out of you. After a little trickery on your part, you and sophie are sent all around Euroupe deciphering clues left by Mr. Sauniere to unravel the truth about your past, and uncover the greatest cover up in human history.

So, as I said, this is a faithful adaptation, so if you've read the book or seen the flick, there really aren't many suprises thrown your way. You will visit places in the game only hinted at in the book, but other then that there really isn't much new here story wise. Now that's not a bad thing since the storyline is still quite intriguing and gripping, but you wish that The Collective might have taken a few more risks with the story and maybe have tried something new. What is bad about this version of the story is that there is nobody from the movie reprising their roles for the game. That's right, no Tom Hanks, no Audrey Tautou, no Paul Bettany, nobody. This would have been less of a disappointment if the fact that half the cast have starred in previous games. Ian Mckellen (The Lord Of The Rings games), Jean Reno (Onimusha 3), and Alfred Molina (Spiderman 2) have all starred in games before, so it's not like their against the idea of being in games. And when you've got a property as big as The Da Vinci Code game, they really should've put some more money into the production values.

That's not to say that the actors who are in the game do a bad job. In fact, it's quite the contrary. Most everyone in the game does a great job with their lines, and it doesn't hurt that they're reading from a well written script. The only person who does a mediocre job is the voice of Sir Teabing. He's a little too wooden. Sophie does a nice job, and the voice of Mr. Langdon does a great Tom Hanks impression. The sound effects are good too, but you'll hear the same ones loop constantly, and it's quite annoying in a game where you open dozens of doors, and there's one door opening noise. The music on the other hand is also well done. It's not as good as Hanz Zimmer's score from the movie, but it gets the job done well. Lots of monks chanting and moody ambiance.

Graphically, the game looks decent. There's some nice lighting in the game, and most of the animations are excellent, but other then that, nothing else goes above and beyond the call of duty. The character models look good, but their faces show no emotion whatsoever, no matter what the characters are saying. They just stare blankly into space, and it looks like something you'd see in an adventure game from 6 years ago or so, and that's no compliment. The game's muddy and ugly textures don't help the graphical presentation don't help either. The worst part about the look of the game is the forced widescreen. Basically the entire time you play the game, the game is in a letterboxed format. This would be fine if the widescreen was a little smaller, but this is the big widescreen. Literally half of the screen is made up of black bars, and the desired effect is more of an annoyance. Not only that, but the game doesn't even have widescreen TV support for all you lucky boys and girls with an HDTV.

Since this a game based on The Da Vinci Code, you'd expect that the game would revolve around solving puzzles, and you'd be right, but There's more to it then that (For better or for worse). The Da Vinci Code is split up into multiple gameplay modes. The most prevalent of these is, of course, puzzle solving. These puzzles are standard adventure game fare. You'll find items and put them places or combine them with other items to make more items, etc. etc. etc. You'll also be doing alot of decrypting in this game. For example, you'll find a sentence made up of symbols and try to figure out what actual letter goes with each symbol to give you a hint to what the answer to the next cryptex puzzle might be. All of this is rudimentary, but they're well done, and I've defiantly played much worse puzzles in my time.

The game also takes a few pages from last years Indigo Prophecy. Every time you pull a lever, push something, fight somebody, or anything of like that, you'll have to input a series of button combinations. These are just a means to an end, and having to push on the analog sticks up and down 5 times to pull a lever is more annoying then fun. It should also be noted that one of the more interesting parts of the game is how much time you'll spend learning in this game. Everything from roman mythology to the crusades to the 14 stages of Jesus's crucifixion is all well told, and since most of this is intertwined with the puzzles, you won't mind being explained a raid in Jerusalem in the 1400's. Some people are going to find this boring, but I think that, in the context of the game and the subject matter, it works very well.

Unfortunately, when you're not solving puzzles, you're fighting guys. These segments feel completely out of place. Robert Langdon isn't an action hero, and having you and Sophie kick the tar out of a bunch of cops just doesn't work in the context of the storyline. You can sneak around in the game, and like in most non completely stealth games, the stealth moves in the game are sloppy and no fun at all. You can perform a stealth attack to knock out pretty much any bad guy in the game, and this does work on pretty much any bad guy in the game. If you actually are seen, that won't matter as these schlubs are as dumb as a sack of hammers. If they see you, you can just run away some 20 feet, and they'll lose sight of you and give up the hunt pretty quickly. If you actually decide to fight your opponents, the fights can actually be entertaining. You can do a basic punch, and eventually you'll grapple him. At this point, you can push him into a wall, throw him out of the way, or straight up attack them. When you initiate one of these sequences, you put in a button combination, and you'll get to see some really cool looking fight scenes. There's quite a few of these, and they all look pretty cool. Seeing Robert spin a guy around, smash his back, uppercut him, and knee him in the face is pretty awesome no matter how out of place they are.

The game takes about 10 hours to beat, and after that, there's some good unlockables to be found. If you go back through the game, you can find various prototypes of Da Vinci's numerous inventions. They unlock things like bonus missions, artwork, the usual. Find them all, and you can unlock the game's soundtrack (This is not an easy feat). So there's some decent replay to be had, but the short campaign and no multiplayer to speak of can only keep you playing for so long.

As we all know, games based on movies don't exactly have the best track record in the world. The Da Vinci Code falls somewhere in the middle. Good but not great. That's more then you can say about most movie based games, but a game based on something as big as The Da Vinci Code should have been something more, but as it stands, it's should service both adventure gamers and fans of the source material. For the rest, either rent it or wait for a price drop.

+Handles the source material well
+Good puzzles
+Well done sound effects
+Entertaining fighting mechanics

-Mediocre graphics
-no stars from the movie
-nothing new gameplay wise
-really bad stealth mechanics
-fighting seems out of place
-not very long
-subject matter may anger some

6 Out Of 10

Bottom Line:For fans only
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: The Da Vinci Code Review. - 06/03/06 07:49 AM

Thanks Jarrodj--

It's always great to see what others liked and disliked about a game.
Posted by: Becky

Re: The Da Vinci Code Review. - 06/03/06 08:11 AM

Thanks for the review Jarrodj!

Just curious -- what percentage of the gameplay was made up of combat challenges, what percentage stealth challenges, what percentage puzzles?
Posted by: Jarrodj

Re: The Da Vinci Code Review. - 06/04/06 12:55 AM

Originally posted by Becky:
Thanks for the review Jarrodj!

Just curious -- what percentage of the gameplay was made up of combat challenges, what percentage stealth challenges, what percentage puzzles?
As always, thank you for the compliment. To answer your question, I'd estimate that about 75% of the game is puzzle somving while 25% is either combat or stealth.
Posted by: Becky

Re: The Da Vinci Code Review. - 06/04/06 09:55 AM

Hmmmmm. Thanks -- that's good to know.
Posted by: JakenElwood

Re: The Da Vinci Code Review. - 06/24/06 10:59 PM

I have just started playing the game, and I agree that the fight scenes seem kind of ridiculous in a game like this. But my biggest pet peeve with this game is the lack of ability to save when you want to, and the fact that you have to replay things over and over again until you hit a save milestone.

I think it will take me much longer than 10 hours to complete this game, if I don't get bored with it first. It is nice to know running away from the fights is a viable option, because I would rather use my brain than fight.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: The Da Vinci Code Review. - 06/25/06 03:16 AM

Thanks for an interesting and informative review JarrodJ. I bought the game because I loved the book so I am relieved that the fighting is not a great part of the game! smile