First Impressions: There is no spoon?
As The Matrix opens, Trinity has just realized that the line she's currently using has been traced. After making short work of the police officers sent to arrest her (?No Lieutenant, your men are already dead?.) Morpheus apprises her of the situation: ?The line was traced, I don't know how.? ?I know? they cut the hard line. There's no time, you're gonna have to get to another exit.? ?Are there any Agents?? ?Yes.? ?God-dammit.? ?You have to focus Trinity, there is a phone at Wells and Lake?.you can make it.? ?Alright.? ?Go!? As the ensuing action unfolds, the dark and utterly unique tone of the film is fully expressed. Agents and police track Trinity to the rooftops as she leads them on a wild chase, complete with impossible leaps and maneuvers that defy logic. Balletic gunplay, slow motion ?bullet time?, over the top, mind blowing martial arts and a deep and twisted storyline straight out of a graphic novel make The Matrix a film that simply begs to be translated to a videogame. To quote the Wachowski brothers, when asked to describe the film: ?It's about Robots vs. Kung Fu.? An obviously glib answer, it still manages to be a pretty solid assessment. As fans eagerly await the coming sequel, The Matrix: Reloaded, gamers everywhere are in store for a real treat, as Enter The Matrix comes to the Xbox this May. Featuring top-notch production values and a story written by the directors themselves, Enter The Matrix looks to take the gaming world by storm when it releases. Let's have a look, shall we?
?You take the Red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes??
Rather than simply follow a linear storyline lifted from the film, developer Shiny Entertainment, working in close conjunction with the Wachowski brothers, are crafting a game that looks to have everything Matrix fans could ask for. The story will actually be interwoven with events from Reloaded, so you'll recognize a lot of the film's locales in the game, but you won't be mimicking movie sequences, you'll be starring in your own original story. The really cool part is that certain actions you undertake in the game will wind up having repercussions in the film. Dave Perry of Shiny Entertainment: ?Usually, when you watch a movie, you just accept the way things happen. As a gamer though, you'll say ?Holy ****! I delivered that to here!' Or, ?I caused that to happen!' You wouldn't believe the war that happened to make this situation occur!' By playing the game, you'll have a broader sense of what's going on.? Something like that will blur the line between films and games, and really gives a sense of just how groundbreaking Enter The Matrix purports to be.
You'll play as one of two new characters from Reloaded. Niobe, a skilled pilot and warrior, or Ghost: a martial arts expert whose specialty is armed combat. No one can best Ghost with a gun in his hand. In addition, you'll fight alongside Neo, Morpheus and Trinity during certain sequences, which should make for some exciting scenarios. As most fans would hope for, much of the game focuses on combat, both melee and ranged weapons play. However, certain portions of the game will feature insane car chases, as well as navigation of the sewers and combat with the Sentinels, the search and destroy bots seen pursuing the Nebuchanezer in the first film. This time, Niobe will pilot her own hovercraft through the dank and twisted tunnels. Hey, there's nothing like a bunch of killer robot squid to brighten your day, right?
?Good?Adaptation, improvisation. But your weakness?is not your technique.?
You'll be able to pull-off all sorts of incredible feats in Enter The Matrix, pretty much everything the principal characters could do in the film, which was of course due to the highly malleable nature of the construct. Some rules can be bent, others can be broken. Words to live by in this game. You'll have the ability to run up and across walls, leap high into the air, dodge bullets, and slow time with the Focus meter (which is the play mechanic that allows for the more insane moves in the game). Double fisted gunplay, unreal somersaults and other assorted flips, as well as emptying endless clips into environments and enemies are all par for the course. The martial arts brawls look just as intense and innovative as the ones in the film. Combining weapons with fists and feet will bring jaw-dropping results as one scene from the demo indicates: Ghost is fighting two enemies in a large, industrial kitchen. After several ridge-hand strikes to the chest of his closest opponent, Ghost leaps up and spins off of a nearby counter, neatly catching the other threat square in the chin with a snap-kick. After back flipping to gain some distance on his adversaries, he instantly pulls a shotgun and blows both goons away. Unbelievably sweet, and if Shiny can tweak the controls properly, the game looks to be a stunning adaptation of the physics of The Matrix universe.
?Did you ever eat Tasty Wheat?? ? No, but technically, neither did you.?
In an interesting new direction in play mechanics, portions of the game will allow you to dial into the Matrix and hack the code directly. You'll use this feature for everything from text messaging other characters, to downloading new forms of martial arts for immediate use. You'll also reveal all manner of plot devices and twists through these means, as well as create conduits to the real world. Since much of the game's plot (actually, pretty much all of it) has yet to be revealed, it's tough to say exactly what direction this new mechanic will take, but suffice to say that it should prove an exciting diversion from combat, and provide welcome pacing to the game.
?Residual Self Image?it is the mental projection, of your digital self.?
Visually, Enter The Matrix is looking top shelf. Detailed environments with sharp textures and a subdued, but tonally accurate color palette, breathe life into the game world. Excellent character models, as well as weapons that reflect their true-life counterparts, bring solid realism to the table, while environmental effects like wall scoring, not to mention fire and explosions, look great. Each freedom fighter casts real time shadows, and subtle lighting effects are evident throughout the environments. All the animations look fantastic, from weapons reloads, right down to the way each combatant moves during fight sequences. In fact, Shiny has put together over 4,000 motion-capture moves for this title, all accurately performed by experts. Overall, the game looks to be chock full of eye candy, impressive visuals to go hand-in-hand with the intricate gameplay.
?Tell me, Mr. Anderson?What good is a phone call if you're?unable to speak??
The sounds of Enter The Matrix seem to be coming along just as nicely as the visuals. Weapons fire, the swirling rush of bullet time, as well as the satisfying thud your blows make when they land on an opponent all create a fantastic sense of immersion. The music is engrossing, and will be instantly familiar to fans of the films. The game's narrative will contain in excess of 200 minutes of cinematics, all utilizing the in-game engine, though it's possible, but not confirmed at the time of this writing, that the game will feature brand new live action footage as well. In addition, all of the actors from the Matrix films have recorded original dialogue for the project. It's this attention to detail, as well as the artistic partnership between the Wachowskis and Shiny, that look to make Enter The Matrix a singular gaming experience when it goes gold in May.
?Listen to me coppertop, we don't have time for twenty questions. Right now there's only one rule: our way or the highway.?
I'm a huge fan of The Matrix, and I'm really looking forward to Reloaded and Revolutions. That said, it's obvious that I'm foaming at the mouth to get my hands on Enter The Matrix. Fantastic visuals and sound, a story that goes beyond the films and actually adds to their plot, and incredible play mechanics that put you right into the Matrix seem like a dream come true for fans, and I'm fully confident that the talent at Shiny Entertainment won't disappoint. If they can manage to properly blend the variety of gaming styles that are featured, as well as tweak the mechanics for the combat, driving, and more cerebral sections to perfection, then Enter The Matrix will have no equal. Here's hoping the game makes it to store shelves with all of the ambitious elements intact and polished. So, in the end, what does all of this mean? It means buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, ?cause Kansas is goin' bye-bye.