Enter the Matrix
Game Info
Xbox, GC, PS2
Shiny Interactive
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
The Good

• Great story that augments the movies
• Tons of Matrix-style action and combat
• Large locations
• Live action footage is wonderful

The Bad

• Camera could be better in tight spaces
• Some rough edges on the character models
• Flight levels feel tacked on


Rather than make a game based directly on the events of the original Matrix movie and the sequel Matrix Reloaded, the Wachoski brothers directed Shiny to make a game set to expand the universe while paralleling and even crossing over with events of the Matrix Reloaded. Players take on the role of either Niobe or Ghost, two fellow freedom fighters who enter the matrix to fight for their cause. In the real world, news of an imminent attack on Zion by the machines sets events into motion. To augment the exceptionally done story is a good bit of live action footage shot just for the game (Heck, they filmed two movies at the same time - I'm sure they had extra footage laying around).

It must be said that the gameplay goes a long way to capture the feel of the Matrix movies. You have one button for punches, one for kicks, one for jumping and an-all purpose action button that can be used for anything ranging from open doors to countering or dodging attacks during combat. Throw in a button to fire your main weapon, one for grenades and explosives and the ability to go into first person perspective and you have the makings of a good action title. One of the best aspects of the game is the Focus ability, which allows you to perform uber-moves by clicking and holding the left-stick button while you fight, run or just about anything. You can run up walls, dodge bullets or even fire your guns while diving. While some may say that this has all been done before in Max Payne, Enter the Matrix one-ups it by allowing you to use your Focus to make hand-to-hand combat a blast. In fact, the game rewards you for using Focus during hand-to-hand rather than with your guns.

Of course, you might think that the Focus aspect of the game would be a waste if the combat is weak. Fear not, because Shiny Interactive has gone to great lengths to make the combat feel just like something you'd see in the movies. Between the kick, punch and action buttons, you can perform a lot of stylish attacks. Throw in having access to a lot of weapons, including picking up the guns dropped by enemies, and players will have a lot of options when it comes to fighting their way through each of the levels.

To break up the combat are a few vehicle levels where you must get to one location while dodging the police. Depending on who you use, you can either be the driver with Niobe or gunman with Ghost. As Niobe, you can still have control of Ghost, and make him fire on chasing cars. As Ghost, these levels play like an on-rail shooter. Either way, the vehicle portion is done well enough to be a nice break from the combat. Near the end of the game, though, the game throws you some levels where you pilot the Logos in the real world. These levels are weak and feel rather tacked on than an integral part of the action.

The visual package for Enter the Matrix is pretty good. First are foremost are the large and highly detailed levels that feature some fine texture work. In fact, the textures, especially on the character models, along with the well-done lighting, go a long way towards making the graphical package work. One of the nicer touches is how most of the locations in the matrix have that greenish hue to them, emulating the way the movies are filmed. The character models themselves are down decently, even though they do have a few rough edges, namely some odd animations with the joints. The facial models for the main characters are pretty dead on, most notably Niobe, who looks just like Jada Pinkett Smith.

Audiowise, there has been a lot of effort to make the game as close to the movies as possible. The soundtrack borrows heavily from tunes from the Matrix and even throws in a number of symphonic pieces to carry the drama of the story. Even though some of the tracks get repeated a bit too much, the soundtrack is pretty dead-on. Voice-acting is at a premium, which is probably helped by a really topnotch script and some really good actors behind the project.

One of the issues the game struggles with is that the in-game camera is not always in the best spot. Since the game doesn't allow you dual-stick control of your character like in Max Payne or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the camera tends to stay behind the character. This in itself is all right, but once you go into combat or are in tight quarters, it can move around on you and make things a little awkward. Aside from that, I had some issues with the pacing of the game. While some levels had some good length, there were others that felt like I was walking down one hall or through a few rooms before the next checkpoint. And since the game stops to load each new stage, this breaks up the flow of the game some.

Enter the Matrix finds itself in a small crowd of really good movie-themed games. As an action title without the movie theme, Enter the Matrix is not as good as some of the top notch games, largely because its short and has next to no replay value. If you're a fan of the movies, you should at least give this one a rent.

- - Vane

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