The Matrix: Path of Neo
After my fierce battle with the dreaded schedules in Football Manager 06 I deemed it time for a completely other kind of battle. In the end of 2003 the final chapter in the Wachowski Brothers’ trilogy, The Matrix: Revolutions, appeared. A few years earlier Atari seized the opportunity and released Enter the Matrix. The game was based on the second chapter, Reloaded, but got bad reviews from both the critics and the public. A lot of time has passed since and we are all eager to know whether Shiny has learned from their earlier faux pas.
In Path of Neo you don’t just take on the role of any old character, which you might have guessed already by looking at the title. It’s up to you to save humanity from it’s doom and who else is capable of that other than our very own Mr. Anderson! You walk through all three chapters of the trilogy in 25 missions, give or take. However, the game is not always true to the storyline. That being said, you will have to see to it that Neo isn’t captured by the agents in one of the early missions by guiding him to the roof of the building he works in. Or you will find yourself protecting a security guard from a horde of SWAT-members in a shabby clock tower. Even the final mission differs from the movie plot, but of course I’m not going to release all to much info on that. I am, however, able to tell you that the final cut scene might well tickle your funny bone and give you a chuckle. It sure did for me!
At the end of each level you can choose between two or three new moves that can be thaught. I find this to be rather pointless because in the end you will be able to execute all moves anyhow. Still, this brings me to one of the best features this game has to offer: the huge amount of attacks. Most moves are excellently animated – sometimes they’re even shown in slow-motion – and can be varied with the use of weapons like Katanas and throwing axes. And that’s without even mentioning the several firearms. Handguns, shotguns, SMG’s and grenade throwers will all be at your disposal. The machineguns and pistols do seem rather inaccurate or ineffective though, so in my opinion the most efficient approach is to jump right on top of your enemies and smack them against the wall. Slight down point, it requires quite some exercise before you’ve mastered all possible moves and combos. So mostly it’s down to button mashing and enjoying those scarce moments when you accidentally trigger a breathtaking combo. Aside from the range of standard attacks there are a few special combo’s and moves. These can only be executed while in Focus mode. Focus allows you not only to perform special attacks, but also slows down the world around you for a few seconds. One of my favourite focus moves is when you stop incoming bullets in mid-air and hurl them back at your opponent at horrendous speeds.
As to graphics, Path of Neo is rather disappointing. The more or less flat textures and barely recognizable faces are something that we gamers are not used to seeing anymore in this day and age. This in incredible contrast with the aforementioned smooth animations. The sound doesn’t stand out all that much either. Dialogs, however, where done by the original cast which of course adds greatly to the overall feeling. The Matrix-feeling is present throughout the game. So much so, that after playing the game I immediately went looking for a matrix screensaver! Especially the level in which you have to face the Merovignian’s cronies is a real beauty. Furthermore the game features a whole bunch of cut scenes with shots from the trilogy. Unfortunately you cannot skip these, so you’ll have to watch them whether you like to or not?
And once again they put in something that everybody hates and that gets spew on by every critic: checkpoint saves! How I hate reaching for that F5 button and coming to the conclusion that the game just doesn’t have a quick save function. Not that it really matters, because the game is so challenging that just about everyone will be able to finish it without ever having to reload a certain level. Even when set to the highest difficulty the game hardly poses a challenge.
With Path of Neo, Shiny proves it definitely learned from Enter the Matrix. Although the game isn’t perfect, – I refer to, for instance, the mediocre graphics and irritating checkpoint saves – it manages to perfectly capture the atmosphere so unique to the Matrix universe. The enormous range of moves and weapons and the excellent voice acting by the movie cast make this title a must have for every fan of the Wachowski Brothers’ Trilogy.