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T (Teen)



Q2 2003



- Nice cinematics

- Ties in with movie

- Good music and sound effects

- Lots of good ideas



- Game feels & looks unfinished

- Bland graphics

- Niobe and Ghost arenít Neo, Trinity and Morpheus

- 3 plus gigabyte install

- Boring and repetitive gameplay

- Lots of bugs

- Poor camera angles



Review: Enter the Matrix (PS2)

Review: Enter the Matrix (XB)

Action Figure: Neo (The Matrix)



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Enter the Matrix

Score: 4.0 / 10


I went opening day to see the Matrix Reloaded and I arrived five hours before the doors opened.  I was told I was too early and that there was no line-up yet formed to enter the show I was waiting for.  Those five hours crawled by and after the movie finished, I couldnít help but feel a little bit disappointed.  The fighting sequences had little snap in the punches, the storyline had few surprises, and the world of the Matrix didnít leave enough to the imagination. 


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Enter the Matrix is even more of a let down for fans of both the Matrix universe and for fans of good video games.  A game based on a movie will always be fighting an uphill battle, and Enter the Matrix fails to surmount the obstacles it had to overcome in order to be an entertaining play.  Instead the game looks, and feels unfinished through and through.  The most obvious reason for this is most likely so that the release of the game could coincide with the release of the movie.  Unfortunately, the biggest recipe for disaster for games is a development cycle that isnít given enough time. 


You play as Niobe and Ghost, captain and first mate (respectively) on the Logos, and are given a choice as to which one to play in the beginning and herein lies one of the biggest problems of the game.  No one really cares about Niobe and Ghost.  The game was written and directed by the Wachowski brothers, so the package tells us, and their vision was one that included playing the game, watching the movie and watching the Animatrix.  Aside from getting you to part with more of your money, 




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their hope was likely that this would allow the fan to gain a thorough understanding of the Matrix Universe and the events in the movie.  As such, the events in the game are those that happen with Ghost and Niobe off camera in the movie.


Helping this along are live footage cutscenes in which the actors playing Ghost and Niobe are filmed.  The gameís budget was said to be about 30 million dollars, 


and no doubt a good chunk of it went to the actors involved with the cutscenes.  The cutscenes are a nice touch to allow the gamer to feel as if they are involved with the movie through the crew of the Logos, but once again, does anyone really care about Niobe and Ghost? 


Overall, the game has an unfinished feel to it.  Even the installation process is buggy.  I had trouble installing the game and found out later that I had to wait for the disc to be recognized by my CD drive before proceeding when disc swapping during the installation process.  Finicky disc swapping aside, the in-game menus look distinctly beta with common fonts used and very little available in the options menu.  There is an extensive troubleshooting FAQ on the gameís website, and I experienced no less than four of the problems listed there. Shiny has since released a patch that fixes many of the problems most gamers will face and also allows users to tweak more of the gameís sound and graphical options. 


The gameís graphics leave a lot to be desired for a $30 million game.  Niobe and Ghost look good but the world they play in is distinctly bland.  The textures throughout a given level are repetitive and the environments are not very creative.  Perhaps this was a conscious decision by the developers as it could be construed that the machines that have created the matrix are themselves not very creative, but it still doesnít remedy the fact that this makes for a boring gameplay experience. 


All this could have been forgiven if the gameplay was involving, exciting and challenging.  As it is, the gameplay doesnít provide the gamer with any lasting entertainment value.  The hand to hand combat follows the framework set by the movie where the characters are master martial artists in the Matrix.  As Ghost or Niobe, you can punch, kick, throw, and defend in various combinations.  There arenít really any special moves that require any skill as just repeatedly pressing the buttons will allow your character to execute a flurry of punches or kicks to your opponent. 


The camera during the fight sequences is not very helpful as it will often provide you with an angle where you cannot see your opponent, and will at other times be completely blocked by the environment.  Also when in fighting mode, your character assumes a combat stance that doesnít allow you to disengage from fight mode until youíve killed all enemies in close proximity to you.  This means that if a security guard is shooting at you, your character will slowly approach the enemy in their combat stance all the while being ventilated, until they are close enough to deliver a punch or kick.  This is highly frustrating especially when you are trying to escape combat. 


The game is not without its good ideas though.  There is a function in the game called focus that slows down time temporarily and allows your character to perform special moves.  These include running on walls, shooting while doing a one-handed cartwheel, and flipping off walls.  Unfortunately, sneaking with your back against the wall, and using walls and obstacles for cover while firing at the enemy isnít executed as well as the special focus movements.  Most of the blame can be attributed to the poor control scheme.  For most gamers it will be a little too simple and it contributes very much to the unfinished feel of the game.


The gameís shooting and driving modes are also very simple as well and donít offer much in the way of either entertainment or challenge.  The driving physics are very simple and arenít challenging and in the shooting mode, there is no option to disable auto-aim.  The weapons available are fairly extensive, but youíll find yourself running out of ammo very often and resorting to the fighting mode.  Speaking of running, there is no walk mode in the game unless you have an analog gamepad.  This is very strange as it is possible (and indeed on some levels required) for your character to act stealthily and sneak up on guards.


When I voiced to a friend of mine my disappointment in the Matrix Reloaded, he told me he thought that it was because the first movie didnít provide enough substance to warrant a sequel, and to some extent I agree.  However I hope to be proven wrong when the final chapter in the trilogy is released this fall.  Enter the Matrix doesnít have that luxury of having another sequel to save it from being a bitter disappointment.  The ideas and the framework of a great game in the making are there, but as a finished product with a $30 million budget, it is unacceptable to gamers and to fans of the Matrix.


- Mark Leung

(August 31, 2003)


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