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The Da Vinci Code PlayStation 2

Published by 2K Games
Developed by The Collective
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

The Da Vinci Code, an introduction.

After being a huge hit as a book and a bit of a flop as a movie, it's now time for The Da Vinci Code to provide us with a spot of action adventure gaming. The Da Vinci Code game is not your typical action adventure game however. Sure there's a decent amount of puzzles here which nicely fit in with the story and a fair few of them are challenging but there's also a decent amount of combat here and it's this which makes the game feel very different from other games you may have previously played from this genre.

What's the game about?

During the game you'll control both Robert Langdon, the Harvard professor, and Sophie Neveu, the French cryptographer. The game begins with Robert arriving at the Louvre and being met by Captain Bezu Fache of the Police Dept. Saunière has been killed by a cloaked man by the name of Silas (unbeknown to Fache and Robert of course). What is also unbeknown to Robert is that Fache suspects him of the murder because of a rather bizarre message that was found next to Saunière's body (some of which was partially removed before Robert arrived). Fortunately he is warned by Sophie Neveu and he manages to escape Fache. Sophie (who is actually Saunière's granddaughter) asks Robert to make his way to the American Embassy for protection. Sophie (who noted the full message that Saunière left) decrypts the message, which suggests looking at the Mona Lisa. She's about to examine it with a black light when Robert, who by now should have left for the Embassy, returns. They eventually agree to find out who is Saunière's  real murderer. That's not their only task though as during their search they uncover a 2,000 year-old conspiracy through clues they find in Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings.

What's good about the game?

As we said in the introduction the game combines puzzles with combat in a way which hasn't really been done before. Whilst the combat is fairly annoying to be honest, the puzzles are actually quite satisfying. You'll make good use of the black light to pick up on clues that are invisible to the naked eye. You'll also have to decrypt a fair amount of messages and some of the puzzles require a fair bit of thought which isn't something you come across too often in an action adventure game. It's also good to see that you can combine items you'll acquire to create solutions. This is one feature that should always be part of a good adventure game and seldom is these days.

What's not so good about the game?

For a variety of reasons the game just doesn't come together as it should. The biggest source of irritation with the game is the combat that not only feels out of place in the game but is also tedious. The Da Vinci code really ought to have been a point 'n' click adventure game and should have avoided the combat altogether. At  various times you'll encounter cops and monks etc. who want to halt your progress. You can either avoid these by using stealth or simply engage them in a fight. When attacking you have to press buttons in the same order as they appear on the screen. You're given  a set amount of time to press the buttons (the amount of time appears to be determined by the combat difficulty you select in the options menu) and you must do the sequence accurately to have a successful attack. When you are being attacked you'll be shown the buttons you need to press in order to defend yourself. Aside from the attack and defend process you can also push your enemies, do stealth attacks (where you creep up on an enemy and hit them from behind) as well as lying in wait for them behind wall, pillars etc. The combat itself isn't that bad but it has no place in the game and shouldn't have been included. It feels as though it's simply here to bulk out the game. Rather annoyingly your characters have health bars and should their health be completely wiped out (you will come across various items that will replenish your characters' health) you'll have to redo the current scene, which again is annoying.  Those who don't appreciate lengthy cutscenes will probably not enjoy the amount of them that appear in the game.

How does it look?

The Da Vinci Code looks OK. There's nothing particularly special about it but the graphics are more than good enough for a third-person adventure game. That said however, the character models are a little disappointing as they look a little basic. Their animations are not as natural looking as you would hope as the characters move in a rather wooden fashion. During the dialogue (of which there's a lot in the game) the characters don't appear to have any emotions at all and could almost be regarded as expressionless because at times they are quite lifeless. On a positive note the load times are quite respectable and the various environments you'll visit during the game are actually nicely detailed.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The Da Vinci Code does offer subtitles. They are disabled by default so you'll have to remember to enable them before beginning a new game. The game's cutscenes (which are quite lengthy in places I might add) are shown in a letterbox format with the subtitles being placed in the lower border. During the main game the subtitles are placed in dialogue boxes for maximum clarity. The subtitles in the game have the person's name next to them so you'll always know who is saying what. Tutorial messages are shown in text. You can save the game at any time but your progress is only recorded to the previous checkpoint. Thankfully you are notified in text when a checkpoint has been reached. You are also shown what your current objectives are in text. If there's one complaint I do have with the game in this respect, it's that the subtitles and tutorial messages occasionally appear on top of the puzzles making it temporarily difficult to see what you need to do. Obviously it's not a major problem but more care should have been taken. 

Final thoughts.

The Da Vinci Code could and should have been a highly engrossing adventure game. The fact that it isn't is hugely disappointing. The kind of action adventure game it's turned out to be really struggles to suit anyone. Those who want combat will most likely find the combat on offer here to be unsatisfactory due to its staccato nature whilst those who wanted a pure adventure game will be disappointed with the fact that combat is in the game at all. Fans of the book and movie might be more forgiving but those looking for an adventure on the PlayStation 2 should only consider the game if they've already played the better games in the genre.

Overall Game Rating: 5.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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The Da Vinci Code has to be regarded as a disappointment. The game does have its fair share of enjoyable and challenging puzzles but it also has it's fair share of problems. The combat just doesn't fit in with the nature of the story and feels like it's simply there to pad out the length of the game. Some may also be frustrated with the length of some of the cutscenes which can go on for a while. The character models could have looked and animated much better too. Fans of the book and movie will definitely find something to enjoy here and to its credit, it's deaf gamer friendly. There are better adventure and action adventure titles out there though.