Jesus Wept

Anybody got a good anagram for "crap"?

The Da Vinci Code Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: PC, PlayStation 2, XBox
Price: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Score: .666 (out of 10)
The Da Vinci Code: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.
The Da Vinci Code: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.
If the creepy, self-flagellating albino monk in The Da Vinci Code really wanted to suffer, he'd drop his flesh-shredding cat-o'-nine-tails, pick up a controller, and play The Da Vinci Code videogame. It's that bad.

Now it can be told: The Da Vinci Code game is one of the crappiest, crap-lousy crap attacks of all time. Ironically, it's so awesomely, awesomely terrible that -- like Opus Dei in the film -- it might eventually achieve cult status.

For the three people left who don't know, The Da Vinci Code follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon -- played in the film by Tom Hanks' hair -- as he uncovers a secret about Jesus Christ that could destroy the very core of Christianity.

This ass-numbing train wreck is based on the book, rather than the film. In fact, the game is so derivative that you'll spend most of your time reading long passages of text about art history and religious iconography, making this the world's first book-reading sim.

The Da Vinci Code claims to be an "action game," which is true insofar as "patiently listening" and "quietly observing" are technically actions. The game developers eschew the film's exciting car chases in favor of such heart-racing fare as . . . learning about the "Fibonacci Mathematical Sequence"!

After a half-hour of exposition delivered in horrible French accents, the first action scene finally arrives. Hold onto your hat, because you'll have to repeatedly tap a button to . . . open a window! (Spoiler: Later, you'll repeatedly tap a button to . . . move a bed!)

Occasionally, the thrill meter peaks, as when Forrest Gump beats the hell out of a museum security guard. Unfortunately, the game's bizarre, timing-based controls put you on the receiving end of the pummeling 90 percent of the time. Okay, we were with you on the whole Jesus-had-a-kid thing, but tough French guys? That's just too unrealistic.

If dropping 'bows on Frogs isn't your idea of fun, you can avoid scuffles by tiptoeing past guards (in this game, tiptoeing equals unstoppable stealth). It's a good strategy, because opportunities to save your progress turn up less often than the Holy Grail.

Along with the adrenaline-pumping reading, listening, and briskly jogging away from security, you'll also solve puzzles that fall into two categories: "ridiculously easy" and "God must hate me." Luckily, if you get stuck, there's a cheat manual -- Dan Brown sold 60 million copies of it.

Following along with the actual book is the only way to make sense of this mind-blowing suckfest. Instead of in-game help, Langdon will only tell you when the trail has gone cold, like a stupefied Marco Polo. Examine a naked corpse and you're told, "This isn't important. I can ignore this." Damn, Langdon, that's harsh!

Countless other lazy aspects mar the game. The backgrounds are so repetitious that you'll see the same painting numerous times . . . in one room. Who knew the Louvre's collection consisted of 228 copies of "The Last Supper"?

Somehow, this game fails to live up to the lofty standard set by Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? In the end, there's only one way to enjoy it: Start your own shadow organization to keep this horrible secret away from humanity. So dark, the con of 2K Games . . .

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