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SummaryFlawed but involved and entertaining action fest.
The GoodThe hype was monumental, the idea ambitious and the anticipation high but as it screams out of the gate on all major gaming platforms on the same day as the Matrix: Reloaded hits cinemas, Enter the Matrix manages to trip on as many hurdles as it clears. Although the game treads the potentially dangerous path of tying in with the 2nd film, it takes the rather smarter approach of treading largely unfamiliar ground as the action is played out from the perspective of one of two of the films minor protaganists, Ghost or Niobe. The games story actually fills in a lot of the holes the movie leaves open and was written by series creators and directors, the Wachowski brothers. In fact a big selling point is that most of the games cinemas are actually additional film footage specifically shot for the game that is not seen in any of the Matrix movies. This isn't cheaply done in a Star Wars fashion either. The films cast are present and the footage was shot alongside the two sequel films so what's on offer is of a high quality. All well and good but it's the game itself that will really decide whether all was for naught or not and here it's a decidedly mixed bag. On every count there is an upside and an anitclimactic downside so since this is the good section we'll look at the upside first. Visuals (on the GC version at least) are pretty good for the most part with some beautiful combat animation in parts that mimmicks the films trademark action scenes. Music is all taken from the films score so it's fits the bill perfectly and the sound is dead on with all the thwacks and bangs you'd expect to hear. Gameplay consists largely of Max Payne style run and gun but with liberal amounts of very kick ass hand to hand combat that really works well, allowing for a punch kick and defend/grab button. Use of these buttons in various combos along with directional pad use allows for loads of different moves and when the fire button is involved that arsenal is only expanded upon, eg: Punch a guy hard in the stomach and then pull out your gun, lift him up with it and shoot him. Of course there is bullet time presented here as focus which allows you to do the slo-mo thing as well as run up and along walls, perform stunts and elongated jumps as well as the most potent and interesting combat moves such as the ever popular 'off the wall' kicks. There are also driving stages in which you either steer or shoot from the window of a moving vechile depending on which character you choose to play as which brings us to our next point. Playing the game as Niobe is substantially different to playing as Ghost. Even though the story and scenario is the same the stages are often totally unique to each character and when they're not they are often played in a different fashion. Coupled with some different cinemas and plot points unique to each scenario and the game is well worth going through with each of them.
The Badvisuals can sway from very good to atrociously average in a heartbeat as some areas seem like they weren't finished, indicating a rushed development. In one cutscene, the character models seem to be older versions and look dangerously worse than the regular ones. Animation is also patchy with some truly appaling work and speaking as an animator myself, some of the dodgy looking animations could have easily been fixed in no time to look better which makes them seem all the more inexcusable. Driving missions are poorly thought out with Ghosts shooting stages particularly average. In one scene the enemy pursuing your car cannot be destroyed and so it becomes more luck whether or not you escape than anything since the computer often makes some terrible driving decisions that can easily cost you the game. As for the final ship flying section in the real world it's so much worse than anything else in the game it comes as a truly horrible anti-climax. Cues that link the music together are poorly realised and result in some tracks repeating so often it becomes annoying... and then there's the bugs. ETM has some of the worst bugs I've seen in a console game. On the GC at least these bugs won't make the game unwinnable or anything (see ps2 version) but they do most definately detract. In one cutscene the entire building that the characters were in disappears so they're left talking in the sky over a black box. Characters can get stuck in tight spots, becoming immobile and although this is very uncommon it still can happen. Visual glitches also appear on occasion and agents can often get you into corners where you can't move or do anything except die.