Written by  :  Kit Simmons (264)
Written on  :  Feb 07, 2008
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  1.14 Stars1.14 Stars1.14 Stars1.14 Stars1.14 Stars

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Either Pill, You Lose

The Good

The graphics' style is very reminiscent of the movies, from the character models right down to the green hue setting the Matrix visually apart from the "real world". Individually, fight moves and combos are well animated and fun to watch. Jumping into the fray with blazing guns or turning on the game's focus slow-mo mode and dishing out pain left and right actually manages to get something of the dynamics of the movies' choreography across. The in-game cutscenes use the game's graphics, important chapter transitions are told using sequences of rapidly re-cut movie scenes. Between stages Neo's abilities can be levelled up all the way to the superhuman skills of the Chosen One. While the game attempts to retell all three movies, it is possible to slightly alter Neo's progression through certain relevant stages and change the outcome of some events. If, for example, Neo gets caught while trying to sneak out of his office at the very beginning of the game, the movie's plot unfolds unaltered. In case players navigate him successfully through the building, Neo gets picked up by Trinity on a motorcycle. The game's early training levels borrow scenarios connoisseurs of Eastern cinema will recognise.

The Bad

It's hard to say something exclusively positive about the game because it's flawed in almost all respects. The graphics may capture the look of the movie but textures are extremely fuzzy. The in-game character models, although mirroring the real actors, look extremely angular because of their low polygon count. A sort of permanent filter also makes the entire game appear blurry and downright dirty.

Controls are mainly dependent on two things: the players' willingness to perform finger-straining button combinations - and luck. The game comes with a vast(!) array of combos, special moves, focus manoeuvres and insane combinations of all three, not to mention the different moves that can be performed depending on which melee or ranged weapon is wielded. However, exercising precise control over them is almost impossible due to the pace of the action and the game's inaccurate and sluggish response to commands. In a fix, turning on focus mode and hammering away on both mouse buttons will usually lead to victory, not to mention the accidental triggering of some cool special attacks and acrobatics. Standard controls are no real help - moving a character using the WASD keys while holding LShift to enter focus mode and pressing down Ctrl to dodge is, mildly put, a pain.

Gameplay offers some nice scenarios but all in all the stages are straightforward and not very detailed obstacle courses with plenty of hectic brawls thrown in. The Matrix trilogy's story cannot be enjoyed by playing the game alone. Cutscenes, chapter transitions and slight plot alterations require in-depth knowledge of the content of all three movies.

The Bottom Line

After a brilliant first movie that all but revolutionised action cinema the Matrix trilogy seems to cast its curse of mediocrity over game developer Shiny, former provider of hit titles like Earthworm Jim, MDK, Messiah and Sacrifice. Just like Enter the Matrix, Path of Neo promises to be the Chosen One but turns out to be little more than a false prophet. A run-off-the-mill action title already in its conception, the game is ultimately brought down by sloppy controls, unimaginative design and below average technology.

Still, the movie franchise's glamour shines through on the rarest of occasions, meaning that die-hard fans may grab the title should they find it in some mart's bargain bin. More than ten bucks for this unimaginative adaptation, just like myriads of other movie-inspired games, would be better spent on the series' ground-breaking prelude on DVD.