Review: Two years too late.
Is it really necessary to revisit a film franchise that has gone by the wayside since the last film was released more than two years ago? The whole idea behind The Matrix: Path of Neo
is that the answer to that question is, "yes." Essentially a movie trilogy companion game, Path of Neo starts off in a rough spot, trying to find relevance in a pop-culture that has essentially put the franchise on the back burner already. From there, the game has to fight an uphill battle.
The Matrix: Path of Neo takes players through the trilogy of Matrix films and a little bit beyond, giving them complete control of Neo all the way back to the beginning of the story. Simple RPG-esque elements guide Neo's development of skills through the game as he progresses towards the status of god. However cool this may sound, a combat engine that is essentially broken down to two attack buttons keeps the action from really excelling. While this control scheme may have worked on a console gamepad at moments, it doesn't translate well to the mouse/keyboard combo on a PC. In fact, the controls become so cumbersome that certain segments of the game actually feel like a chore to complete.
One shining moment for Path of Neo is in the action animations. Each focus attack manages to convey a sense of brutality that you can't help but giggle at. Unfortunately, for every gleeful moment there are two that make you cringe as the camera pops inside Neo's head during certain attacks (causing you to see the inside textures) and even the hair textures on some of the models don't line up with the associated head.
I read somewhere that the idea behind Path of Neo was that game players' biggest disappointment with Enter the Matrix was that they didn't get the chance to play as Neo with his god-like powers. I really don't think that the best way to accomplish that sense of omnipotence was to simplify the control scheme down to two action buttons. It almost detaches the player from the action as everything is reduced to simple button mashing. What good is it to be god if you can't control what you are going to do? Perhaps the whole package would have been a better fit in 2003 when the franchise still felt relevant.