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.
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,
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,
no doubt a good chunk of it went to the actors involved with the
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?
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
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
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
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.
this could have been forgiven if the gameplay was involving, exciting
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
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.
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
This is highly frustrating especially when you are trying to
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.
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
of running, there is no walk mode in the game unless you have an analog
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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