The Da Vinci Code (video game)
|The Da Vinci Code|
|Distributor(s)||Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures|
|Writer(s)||David Kristofer Fried, Paul Robinson, Joseph Norris|
The Da Vinci Code is a 2006 action-adventure/puzzle video game developed by The Collective and published by 2K Games for PlayStation 2, Xbox and Microsoft Windows. The game is based on the original novel by Dan Brown, and is not associated with the 2006 film of the same name. As such, the characters in the game do not resemble nor sound like their filmic counterparts. The game also changes some aspects of the story; for example, in the novel and film, the religious sect is a fictionalized version of the real "Opus Dei", but in the game, the sect is changed to the completely fictional "Manus Dei". The game received very mixed reviews across all platforms and did not sell well.
The Da Vinci Code game is a third-person action-adventure/puzzle game. The aim of the game, as with both the book and the film, is to locate the Holy Grail. To achieve this goal, the player must gather clues, solve puzzles, and successfully evade or defeat enemies.
Players control both Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. Which character the player controls during any given level is pre-determined; the player has no choice as to which character to use at any time in the game. The differences between the two characters are purely for narrative purposes. In terms of gameplay, both characters are identical; they have the same speed, strength and abilities, can use the same items and share an inventory.
The majority of the gameplay involves one of three aspects; searching, melee combat and puzzles. When searching locations, the player moves the characters around in a third-person view looking for objects which can be examined more closely. When such an object is found, the game switches to first-person mode, and the player can examine the object in more detail. At this time, more specific objects can be found.
Melee combat is split into two phases. In the first, the player approaches an enemy and attempts to punch them, as with most beat 'em up games. If the player successfully hits the enemy, the game enters attack mode. If the player misses and is instead attacked themselves, the game enters defense mode. Both modes are identical insofar as the player must enter a sequence of button presses before the timer runs out. If they do so, they will successfully attack or block the enemy. If they fail, they will be attacked or blocked themselves. Players can also push enemies away and attempt to flee from combat, and they can attempt to avoid combat altogether by sneaking up on enemies and knocking them out.
The game begins with Silas sitting in his chamber and tightening a spiked metal cilice around his leg. He then picks up a handgun and leaves the room. The game then cuts to Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of symbology in Paris for a lecture, arriving at The Louvre, where he has been asked to view a crime scene by Cpt. Bezu Fache. Jacques Saunière, Langdon's friend and curator of the museum, has been murdered. In flashback, Silas is shown asking Saunière where something is. Saunière tells him, and Silas responds, "I believe you. The others told me the same," before shooting him.
In the museum, Fache shows Langdon that Saunière has written in black light ink a numeric cipher and a message, "O Draconian Devil! Oh Lame Saint!" At this point, Sophie Neveu, a member of the cryptography department arrives. She explains that the cipher is part of the Fibonacci sequence, although the numbers are out of order. She then secretly tells Langdon that he is in danger. They meet in the toilet and she tells him that Fache thinks he is the murderer, revealing that he is wearing a GPS tracking device planted by the police. Neveu tells him that also written in black light ink were the words "PS. Find Robert Langdon." She explains that Saunière was her grandfather and "PS" was his nickname for her; "Princess Sophie." She believes that Saunière included the numerical cipher in the message to insure her involvement in the case.
Langdon throws the GPS device onto a passing car, and most of the police leave the museum to follow. He and Neveu then return to the body, and Langdon realizes that the numbers are out of sequence to tell them that the letters are also out of sequence; the words are anagrams. He deciphers "Oh Lame Saint" as "The Mona Lisa". As they head to the painting, Langdon realizes that "PS" could also refer to the Priory of Sion. His theory is strengthened when Neveu remembers seeing the letters together with a fleur-de-lis when she was a child; "PS" combined with a fleur-de-lis is the coat of arms of the Priory. At the Mona Lisa, they find a substitution cipher written in black light ink on the glass around the painting, which leads them to find Saunière's ring, bearing a fleur-de-lis. They then head into Saunière's office where they listen to a message in which Sister Sandrine of Saint-Sulpice tells Saunière "the floor is broken and the other three are dead." A window is then heard smashing and a man says, "Your fate was sealed the moment you stood against Manus Dei." Langdon and Neveu continue to follow clues left by Saunière, which eventually lead Neveu to conclude that they must head to his chateau. She and Robert split up as she heads to the chateau and he heads to Saint-Sulpice to help Sandrine.
Once there, he finds a monk attacking a young nun. He knocks the monk out, and the nun, Sister Marguerite, tells him that Sandrine is dead, killed by Silas, who was looking for something that Sandrine refused to give him. He left moments before the monks arrived, who seemed to be trying to erase evidence of his actions. Langdon concludes the monks are members of Sanctus Umbra, a militant subgroup of Manus Dei. Langdon tells Marguerite to hide in her room whilst he investigates the church. He examines the broken floor at the base of the Gnomon of Saint-Sulpice and finds a stone tablet with Job 38:11 inscribed on it; "Hitherto shalt thou come but no further." He deduces that Silas has been misled by Saunière and the others. He heads down into the crypt where he finds a list of Priory Grand Masters, discovering that Saunière was the current Master.
Meanwhile, at the chateau, Neveu heads for Saunière's underground grotto. She evades both Silas and the police, and follows a series of clues to find a laser etched key with the address of the Depository Bank of Zurich. She meets up with Langdon and they head to the bank. There, they open Saunière's deposit box, finding a cryptex. They then head to Château Villette, the residence of Sir Leigh Teabing, Langdon's friend and one of the world's foremost experts on the Holy Grail. Teabing and Langdon explain to Neveu that the Grail is not a cup, but is in fact a reference to a woman. Looking at da Vinci's The Last Supper, Teabing explains that the image of John is actually female; Mary Magdalene, to whom the historical Jesus was married. This marriage was suppressed by the early Church, who needed its followers to believe Jesus was divine. Teabing explains that the chalice that held the blood of Christ, the Holy Grail of legend, was actually Mary herself, as she was pregnant with Jesus' child. At this point, Silas breaks into the chateau, revealing he murdered Saunière under the orders of "The Teacher." Langdon and Neveu incapacitate him, and with Teabing and his servant Remy, they head to London, taking the unconscious Silas with them.
Landing at Biggin Hill, they evade the police and head to Temple Church. Langdon and Teabing go inside, but in the courtyard, Neveu sees Remy betray them and send a gang of thugs in after them. Langdon wakes up in a dungeon, but manages to escape. He meets up with Neveu, and tells her that Remy is holding Teabing hostage to use him as a bargaining chip for the cryptex. Inside the church, Remy and Silas confront Langdon and Neveu, who flee and head to Westminster Abbey, where Teabing is being held.
Once there, they decide they must solve the cryptex in order to bargain for Teabing's life. Following a series of clues left by Saunière, they do so, but before they can open it, they are captured by Remy. He takes them to Teabing, who reveals himself to be The Teacher. He shoots Remy as he no longer needs him, and reveals that Silas has just been arrested for the recent murders. He tells Langdon and Neveu that the Priory was supposed to make public the contents of the cryptex on the eve of the New Millennium, but Saunière decided against it. As such, Teabing determined to reveal the documents himself. He asks Langdon and Neveu to join him in revealing the truth about Mary Magdalene, but they both refuse and Langdon destroys the cryptex. Teabing is arrested as he laments the truth being lost forever.
However, Langdon had removed the document before destroying the device. Following the clue contained within, he and Neveu head to Rosslyn Chapel. There, they find a family tree for the Saint-Clair family, running all the way back to the Merovingian dynasty. In a series of documents, they learn that when Sophie's family were killed in a car accident, newspaper reports said that all of the family were killed; mother, father, and two children. The reports also state that the family's name was Saint-Clair. Langdon realizes the truth; Neveu survived the accident, and the Priory put out the story she was dead to protect her, as she is a living blood relative of Jesus Christ. Neveu's grandmother then arrives, explaining that the family changed its name for protection. She then introduces Neveu to her brother, who also survived the crash; he came to Scotland with the grandmother whilst Neveu went to France with Saunière. Neveu's grandmother then tells Langdon that the grail is not in Rosslyn, it is in France. Langdon realizes the clue in the cryptex didn't point to Rosslyn but to the Rose Line in Paris. He says goodbye to Neveu and heads to France, finally understanding that the grail lies beneath the Louvre Pyramid.
The game was officially announced on November 2, 2005, with Sony Pictures revealing that The Collective were developing and 2K Games publishing, with plans for a simultaneous release with the upcoming film directed by Ron Howard. Sony also stated, however, that the game was based on the book, not the film. It was also announced that Charles Cecil, creator of the Broken Sword series, was working as a consultant on the puzzles in the game.
An 80% complete version of the game was shown to gaming websites in April 2006. The "Struggle System" melee combat mode was demonstrated, as were the various locations and the recreations of real works of art. It was also revealed that the game would include levels and locations not featured in the novel, although it would adhere to the broad plot of the novel. IGN's Douglass C. Perry wrote of the demo, "the game demoed well, with clean sharp graphics for the current gen systems, offering interesting dialog, and a premise that stands out from many other titles in the adventure genre. The linear, story-based title intrigued us with its focus on art and culture, but it backed the heady concepts up with smart puzzles, a fun grappling system, and good gameplay. Despite the rage for everything next-gen these days, The Da Vinci Code, a game that ordinarily would smack of movie-license dog food, instead is a refreshing re-thinking on the rather worn adventure genre." The game was also shown at E3 on May 10.
Mobile phone adaptation
Announced a month before the main game was a two-part mobile phone adaptation of the novel, developed by Kayak Interactive. The first part, The Da Vinci Code: The Quest Begins, was released on April 14, 2006 prior to both the main game and the film. The adaptation took the form of an isometric puzzle game. The second part of the game was never made.
The original musical soundtrack of The Da Vinci Code video game was composed by Winifred Phillips. The game's music was praised by several reviewers. Jeff Hall of the music review site ScreenSounds called it a "a fine piece of contemporary action scoring." Jonathan Fildes of BBC News wrote, "the accompanying music lends a suitably ethereal atmosphere to proceedings." Juan Castro of IGN described it as "moody, atmospheric and decidedly creepy. It's the right kind of music for slow-paced puzzle solving." JP Hurh of Game Revolution wrote, "the ambient music is properly tense and sets the mood."
|2.||"Bank of Zurich"||4:31|
|3.||"St. Sulpice Church"||4:50|
|6.||"Biggin Hill Airport"||5:04|
|10.||"The Mona Lisa"||5:03|
The Da Vinci Code received very mixed reviews across all three platforms. The PlayStation 2 version holds aggregate scores of 56.93% on GameRankings, based on forty-seven reviews, and 54 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on forty-three reviews. The Xbox version holds scores of 53.79%, based on twenty-nine reviews, and 52 out of 100, based on thirty-four reviews. The Windows version holds scores of 57.71%, based on twenty-two reviews, and 53 out of 100, based on twenty-five reviews.
IGN's Juan Castro gave the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions 4.8 out of 10 and the PC version 4.5 out of 10, writing, "it borrows a riveting story of conspiracy and murder, yet gets bogged down by sloppy gameplay. It even has a few interesting mechanics here and there, but these feel underdeveloped and haphazardly thrown in." He was highly critical of the melee combat portions of the game, and he concluding that "as a videogame, The Da Vinci Code captures a fraction of the intrigue from the best-selling novel. It weaves an interesting tale of conspiracy and corruption, but the gameplay simply doesn't back it up. It doesn't offer enough puzzle variety for serious adventure fans, and the combat will irritate or bore most action aficionados."
Reviewing the PlayStation 2 version, BBC News' Jonathan Fildes referred to the game as a "frustrating movie tie-in, with endless cutscenes and patchy gameplay. At times it feels tedious, and at others like the ancient mystery is being played out in real time." He did praise the game for successfully re-creating the atmosphere of Brown's novel, but criticized the difficulty of some of the puzzles for players unfamiliar with that novel. He argued that "the vast majority of play involves aimlessly wandering around churches, art galleries and stately homes hoping to stumble across an object of interest. This can lead to long periods of play, endlessly retracing your steps and painstakingly poring over rooms in the hope that you will trip over the missing object."
GameSpy's David Chapman rated the Xbox and PS2 versions 2 out of 5, and was highly critical of the graphics; "the only thing stiffer than the acting is the character animations. The characters move with all the grace of a three-toed sloth." He praised the puzzles, but was critical of the combat system, and concluded "on the whole the game is a pretty bland and uninspiring attempt to cash in on a successful franchise. The game's poor presentation and frustrating combat system make the mystery behind The Da Vinci Code one that most gamers would be better off leaving unsolved."
Game Revolution's JP Hurh gave the PS2 and Xbox versions a D, citing a "multitude of glitches and unintuitive programming missteps. Odd tics include the game freezing when you try to use certain weapons, an essential clue being invisible and the inability to go through doors or interact with objects when you are carrying something." He was also highly critical of the enemy AI and the melee combat. He concluded that "this licensed mess is mostly a failure."
Eurogamer's James Lyon gave the PC version 5 out of 10. Like most critics, he was critical of the combat system, writing "the real problem with The Da Vinci Code is that it doesn't really know who to appeal to. The fighting and sneaking are so inharmoniously overlaid as to render them an irritating chore for those who just want to solve puzzles, yet they're also so poorly done that they're hard to put up with even if you did want them." He felt the game did a good job in capturing the tone of the novel, but concluded "The Collective appears to have over-egged the pudding a little, putting far too much needless emphasis on repetitive and increasingly tedious action elements to the detriment of the already unpolished adventuring. In trying to fulfill the needs of what gamers want as well as Da Vinci Code fans, The Collective has ended up with a game that ultimately proves only half satisfying to either and great to none."
GameSpot's Greg Mueller was more impressed than most critics, giving the game 6.5 out of 10 and writing, "The Da Vinci Code game offers a challenging and varied gameplay experience that will satisfy the amateur cryptographer in everyone." He praised the game's integrity to the original story, but was critical of the combat system. He concluded that "the biggest fault of The Da Vinci Code is the overall presentation. The voice actors sound completely flat and disinterested in the dialogue, the character animations are all jerky and unnatural looking, and there are even a few frustrating bugs that make the game feel unfinished."
Even non-video game publications got in on the act. Detroit Free Press gave it a score of three stars out of four and stated, "You'll spend plenty of time cracking anagrams and other codes, and they aren't child's play, either. There's some combat, too, which, while feeling a little out of place, does provide for variation in the game." The New York Times gave it an average review and stated that "Because I like puzzles, I enjoyed much of Da Vinci despite its flaws. But there are many of them, and the game's sloppy implementation can be seen in a number of questionable design decisions." The A.V. Club, however, gave it a C−, stating that "The combat mechanism is an abomination. Every time you get in a fight, you have to match a pattern of buttons to throw a good punch or block an attack. Presumably, this was meant to help non-action-gamers get through combat, but even your grandmother would rather mash buttons than deal with this painful interface."
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- The Collective. The Da Vinci Code. 2K Games. Level/area: St. Sulpice. "Manus Dei: "The roots of Manus Dei begin in Spain during the 1920s. Within the Catholic Church, a priest by the name of Javier Vasquez de Espana had grown tired of the lackadaisical manner in which people approached their faith. He soon created a sect within the Catholic Church to encourage its members to worship the Lord with more vigor. This sect was named Manus Dei, or, The Hand of God.""
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- Fried, Dave (2006). "Investigation". The Da Vinci Code PlayStation 2 Manual. 2K Games. p. 10.
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- The Collective. The Da Vinci Code. 2K Games. Level/area: St. Sulpice. "Corporal Mortification: "The practice of inflicting pain on themselves to avoid the pleasures of the flesh and become closer to God spread early within the sect of Manus Dei. [One such practice] is a cilice or spiked chain that they wear on their upper tight for several hours of the day. This cuts into the flesh leaving small holes and deters them from impure thoughts.""
- Fried, Dave (2006). "Characters". The Da Vinci Code PlayStation 2 Manual. 2K Games. p. 4. "A Professor of Symbology at Harvard University, Mr. Langdon is not foreign to danger and mystery, as some of his previous adventures have brought him close to ancient conspiracies and assassination attempts on his life. It's no wonder that intrigue follows wherever he goes. Langdon came to Paris to give a lecture at the American University of Paris on the power of symbols. While there he was supposed to meet with Jacques Saunière to discuss an unknown matter at Saunière's behest, however, a shocking turn of events brings Robert to Saunière, but not as expected."
- The Collective. The Da Vinci Code. 2K Games. Level/area: St. Sulpice. "Sanctus Umbra, Holy Shadow: ""The Seedy underbelly of Manus Dei, Sanctus Umbra is only a whispered tale passed on as a legend from the early 1930's. Rumors speak of a group of monks trained by Manus Dei in the ways of the ancient Hassassins (or Assassins) from their youth. Their ability to blend with shadows is said to be uncanny, and their thirst to inflict God's vengeance, insatiable.""
- The Collective. The Da Vinci Code. 2K Games. Level/area: St. Sulpice. "Job 38:11: "This doesn't lead to another clue, in fact it would seem quite the contrary. This is a dead end and whoever broke through the floor and discovered the stone tablet must have been quite enraged. It is likely that the assailant was misled intentionally.""
- Fried, Dave (2006). "Characters". The Da Vinci Code PlayStation 2 Manual. 2K Games. p. 5. "The author of over a dozen books on Grail Lore, Leigh Teabing is a world-renowned expert on history of the Holy Grail. Leigh was diagnosed with polio at age nine and was forced to use crutches the rest of his life. He spent several years traveling to famous Grail sites throughout Europe. He obtained a first-class honors degree in History before moving on to Cambridge University to complete his PhD. After purchasing Château Vilette, Teabing retired to focus on his life's passion, the quest for the Holy Grail."
- The Collective. The Da Vinci Code. 2K Games. Level/area: Château Villette. "Mary Magdalene: "According to some, Mary Magdalene was the unfortunate victim of a smear campaign launched by the early Church to cover up the dangerous secret of her being the wife of Jesus""
- The Collective. The Da Vinci Code. 2K Games. Level/area: Château Villette. "Jesus' Bloodline: "History would have us believe that Jesus was poor and that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, though there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Jesus was of the House of David, a descendant of King Solomon, the King of the Jews. Mary was of the House of Benjamin, also of royal descent. By marrying into the powerful House of Benjamin, Jesus fused two royal bloodlines, creating a potent political union with the potential of making a legitimate claim to the throne and restoring the ling of kings as it was under Solomon. The legend of the Holy Grail is a legend about royal blood. When Grail legend speaks of "the chalice that held the blood of Christ," it speaks, in fact, of Mary Magdalene, the female womb that carried Jesus' royal bloodline.""
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