Enter the Matrix
The Curse of the Movie Game is not yet broken.
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'Enter the Matrix' is big on concept. The games story runs parallel to the movie 'Matrix Reloaded', following two minor characters from the movie, Niobe and Ghost. The game fills in a lot of interesting details in the Matrix saga, and sets up some characters and events that I am sure we'll see in the next film. Fans of the Matrix will surely get some enjoyment from playing through the game just for the sake of watching the cutscenes and following the plot.
The combat system allows your character to pull of some pretty cool Matrix-style moves. You can use your 'focus' powers to slow down everything around you, allowing you to see bullets as they fly though the air, and to perform some snazzy slo-mo martial arts combos. With focus activated you can jump much farther, cartwheel and flip out of the way of incoming fire, and leap about while accurately firing yoru weapon.
The graphics don't suck, but they aren't the best ever seen on an Xbox. The FMV cutscenes tend to look a bit muddy and seem to be in a bizarre aspect ratio when played on a 16:9 television. The character's facial models are excellent, and the lip syncing is some of the best I've ever seen in a game.
Sadly, the whole games stinks of mediocrity. The level design is very poor, at times being simutaneously completely linear and terribly confusing. Enemy AI is very unimpressive. Guards take cover, but that's about it. Fighting armed opponents always comes down to using your disarm move to get thier weapon and then beating them up a bit to finish them off. If gunfire ever gets to heavy you can go into focus mode and dodge bullets while capping the bad guys. You will seldom find yourself in any real trouble.
The game is surprisingly easy, clearly aimed at novice gamers. Your health regenerates if you give it time, as does your focus meter. If you ever find yourself in a tight spot you can just hide behind a pillar until you are all better. Despite this, there are still health packs scattered about. This effectively destroys any sense of tension.
The controls are just absurdly mapped. The left analogue stick is used to move around, the right stick switches you to a first person view. Yup, the entire right stick is dedicated to switching POV. It makes absolutely no sense. To draw and fire weapons, you must push the black button, to holster them you use the action button. This caused countless unintentional holsterings during gameplay, as the action button is used for things like opening doors and disarming opponents as well. The left trigger activates your focus, and the right trigger locks onto a target, though this seemed to work sporadically at best.
The gameplay itself, while often enjoyable, frequently forces you to drive, shoot while riding, or take out enemies with a sniper rifle. These sequences are clearly intended to mix up the action a bit, but I just found them to be an annoying distractions. The driving bits are purely awful, and the 'shooting from the passenger side window' parts aren't much better. The final levels of the game have you simply running away (or flying away while shooting) and nothing else. These ending levels leave the distinct flavor of a rush job in ones mouth, as they aren't fun in the least. Five whole levels in which I simply run away from Agent(s) Smith? Something must be missing...
The Bottom Line
For fans of the movie, it's worth renting just to see the cutscenes and flesh out the plot. I can't reccomend a purchase to anyone, as it is just too short and unpolished, even with two characters to play through as. I finished it easily in two days.
While the concept of expanding a blockbuster movies universe through video games is a good one, this game simply does not do enough to make it as rewarding and compelling an experience as if could have, and should have been.