Enter the Matrix
We all know how fast the gaming industry is growing and prognosis are that it will keep on growing along with the expansion of Information Technology to the so-called “Developing and Third World countries”. At the same time the movie industry realises that DVD’s, DivX, mp3’s, HDTV and other technologies are just the start of what’s to come. They know very well that they have to look forward and invest in the technological boom.
This being said, it’s not surprising that the movie-industry tries to cash in on rising gamessales. Hollywood has always welcomed extra cash. So it came to no surprise that the Wachowski brothers sold the game-rights to Atari for the development of ‘Enter the Matrix’. If you’re interested on knowing exactly how much they’re getting for this deal, I suggest you read THIS.
But, much like the exciting plot twists of the Matrix trilogy, Enter the Matrix isn’t just another game based upon a movie. Au contraire, the storyline of the game overlaps with the storyline of The Matrix Reloaded. The game can easily be played stand-alone, but it makes more sense if you’ve actually seen the movie (yes, there are still people out there who haven’t even seen the original Matrix !).
After a short moviescene (with original cast), you have to choose between two characters, Niobe, the beautiful Nubian princess and the commander of the Osiris – a ship much like the one Morpheus commands, or Ghost … who I think is the main technician (but do correct me if I’m wrong). Being a fine specimen of the male kind myself and far from denying my feminine side, I chose to play as Niobe. The game kicks off when you have to run and fight your way through the Matrix to pick up and deliver Neo a very important message. I cannot stress enough how important the message is… all of mankind depends on it, or what did you expect ?
The game is pretty much straight-forward lineair play. Due to the arrow on your hud, you won’t get lost in the world of the Matrix. Especially because it goes pretty red when you go into the wrong direction. Besides that, the game is objective-driven. After picking up the important message in the post-office, you’ll find yourself speeding away from the cops in a high-speed car chase, you’ll chase airplanes in a neat SUV, rescue fellow rebels and ultimatly fight off a Sentinel attack.
As for the rest of the plot… it’s not that complex, to be honest. Just listen to the guy giving you directions, follow the arrow on your hud and shoot and/or kick everything that moves. Even ‘Agents’ are pretty easy to get rid of, just don’t stand too close too any ledges (e.g. in the level: ‘Answer the phone’). Don’t ask about your foes intelligence, “they are Matrix generated, thus computer generated, thus st00pid”. I guess that was the general thought on the Monday morning developers meeting when discussing the AI.
But don’t worry, there are some positive notes about Enter the Matrix. Some of the combatmoves are derived from the movie, giving the fightscenes that extra ‘wow-factor’ which everone knows a good combatgame needs. But a Matrix game wouldn’t be complete without the world-renowned ‘bullet-time’. So the developers chose to incorporate a ‘Focus’ feature that slows down the game (kinda like Max Payne, remember ?). When you’re in focus mode and time is slowed down, you can throw around some really cool combat moves such as backflipping, running up a wall and double-axe kicks. Anthony Wong, the actor who plays Ghost in The Matrix Reloaded says : “Ghost is military tough, it’s great to see him doing Yuen Wo Ping-style Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon choreography.”
Unfortunatly that about sums it up as far as gameplay is concerned. There is one more bizar feature though, the health-o-meter. Every time your character gets her (or his) butt kicked, you can just stand around for a couple of seconds and it will regain health automatically. Yet there are medi-kits available here and there… which makes the whole game kind of lacking in suspence. Just wait around the corner and replenish your health whilst admiring the beautiful skyline of Matrixcity.
So how about the graphics ? Nothing out of the ordinary actually, the character modelling is pretty all right, good job there, but don’t expect any novelties. One thing the gamedevelopers haven’t been able to solve apparently are the enemy-figures who clip through walls from time to time, pity, as there is already a lack of suspence and surprise in the game. Overall, the designers went for the darker side of the whole Matrix story, giving the whole game a dusky, gloomy atmosphere. Standard stuff really although that I noticed that the framerates are highly variable at moments, especially during the fast-paced action-packed sequences.
Which brings us to the soundaspect of the game. The gunfire sounded good, the eerie ambiance-sounds suited the game just fine and I especially enjoyed the fact that the developers were allowed to incorporate the weird metal-like sound where an Agent takes over the body of a normal person. Next tot that I found the soundtrack to be highly amusing and entertaining, giving the game an edge. High marks for that.
All in all, Enter the Matrix should have been better. Every aspect of the game is ‘ok’ but it doesn’t live up to the high expectations one has from a game that features the word ‘Matrix’ in the title. The AI is totally insufficient and the levels are way too linear and clear-cut easy. Yet still I enjoyed the game, perhaps because I didn’t need to use any braincells whilst playing