PC games: Enter The Matrix

Following on from our review of the preview version of Enter the Matrix (ETM) in the April issue, we took a look this month at the full release of this important title.

The game does well to capture the style, mood and the awesome fight sequences that aficionados have come to know and love in the Matrix universe. Using an over-the-shoulder (third person) view, this action adventure allows you to play as two different characters — Ghost or Niobe.

Not just a rehash of the plot of the film The Matrix Reloaded, ETM tracks a side story that follows the characters deployed on various missions as they help save the human race from the rise of the machines. The characters’ missions are similar, but they do intertwine within the story.

Unprecedented in gaming circles, the Wachowski brothers (the film series’ directors) gave game developer Shiny full access to all the film props, sets and costumes in order to produce one of the most realistic cinema tie-ins ever. The Wachowski brothers have even gone that extra step and filmed extra scenes with the existing cast to correspond with the storyline from the first two movies. The extra footage is enough reason to hook the hardcore Matrix fans, even if they don’t like the game genre or gameplay.

At the beginning of the game, tutorial tips are displayed to help you move around the Matrix universe without being beaten to pulp. As you progress through the levels, the keyboard controls seem to flow a little more easily. The ‘focus’ or bullet time effects are this title’s drawcard, and this feature enables players to perform some of the gravity-defying moves demonstrated in all three Matrix movies. In a similar manner to an older title called Max Payne, ETM builds on the bullet time effects and gunplay, improving them immensely (see here for a screenshot).

Another great point to note is the atmospheric audio in the title. During certain pivotal scenes, the audio accompaniment does an exceptional job of capturing the moment — even the character voice-overs help to immerse you in the Matrix world. From the crescendo of a string section during the post office levels to the booming electronica of the driving levels, you feel like you’re there.

Nonetheless, it must be noted that there are few minor hiccups to this great title, tainting the overall feel. The AI can sometimes be a little buggy, making for humorous kung fu battles with enemies, and the level design is somewhat linear. The driving-based levels also leave a lot to be desired in that the car’s physics are way off the mark.

Summing up, the game’s saving graces are the extra cinematic sequences and extraordinary fight scenes — they’ll help gamers overlook the title’s pitfalls. Die-hard Matrix fans will revel in the experience, but those people who are new to the Matrix universe may feel somewhat left out and confused.

Publisher: Atari
Developer: Shiny Entertainment
URL: www.enterthematrixgame.com

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Ryan Shaw

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