- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Here’s a look at some hardware and software that’s available:

Jaws Unleashed, by Majesco Entertainment for Xbox, rated M: content suitable for ages 17 and older, $29.99. The villain of Steven Spielberg’s legendary film stars in this bloody third-person adventure game in which a single player takes control of the ravenous great white shark.

I commend Majesco for this unusual game, which involves roaming through expansive underwater environments on 10 missions of destruction while consuming massive quantities of humans and gentle sea creatures.

In this new story, there are more problems in Amity Island when Jaws disrupts the town’s economic boom leading Mayor Larry Vaughn Jr. to hire shark hunter Cruz Ruddock.

Of course, one of Earth’s most dangerous carnivores will not die easily, and he does not simply bite and maul his way through levels. He can beach himself temporarily to grab prey, use a deadly whip of the tail to destroy boats, ram structures with the power of a torpedo and, believe it or not, even toss torpedoes at those pesky Coast Guard vessels.

Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous until the action really heats up and John Williams’ fantastic musical score kicks in. Then to hunt with a beautifully designed eating machine becomes a real pleasure — especially if one forgets about the sticky camera and occasional game freezes that occur in tight places.

In fact, the wavy terrain and shark movements (especially in a first-person point of view) are so realistic that I actually felt seasick after about 45 minutes and had to play in short increments thereafter.

Make no mistake about it, the violence is gruesome and graphic, in part because of the designer’s dismemberment engine, which enables the shark to shake or bite apart its often-human prey. I found it particularly unsettling to destroy a killer whale, dolphins and sea lions as I tried to escape from a Seaworld-type environment. However, the satisfaction of breaking through a metal cage to devour a pesky diver who shot spears at me was quite a stress reliever.

The Da Vinci Code, from Take Two Interactive for Xbox, rated T: content suitable for ages 13 and older, $39.99. The last movie I ever thought would be turned into a video game arrived with the blockbuster film to give fans a chance to expose the secrets of the Holy Grail.

Within the third-person format, the player controls Harvard professor Robert Langdon and occasionally cryptologist Sophie Neveu as they attempt to solve the murder mystery of the Louvre curator.

A mixture of complicated puzzles, lengthy dialogue exposition, stealth mechanics and combat tactics delivers an odd sort of multimedia amalgam while computer-animated scenes seamlessly meld with the controlled characters, who constantly examine, collect and solve in such locales as the Louvre, the Bank of Zurich and Westminster Abbey.

Simple actions could have the player open a window, enter an access code on a cell phone or find an ultraviolet light. The brain will get a workout with puzzles that range from cryptograms to riddles to anagrams to Fibonacci sequences.

Awkward fight scenes add an unnecessary layer to the game and make little sense when one considers the non-action-hero-like characters in the story.

Despite the sometimes silly battles and no support from the stars of the movie, the game offers the more cerebral game player a fun adventure and the fan of “The Da Vinci Code” the best opportunity to become part of the celebrated novel.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide