|Enter the Matrix|
|Platforms||GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows|
|Genre||Action Movie Cash-In|
|MtAMinutes to Action||5|
|Keep Playing?||As a Matrix fan, save it for a (very) rainy day|
|Buy from Amazon|
Enter the Matrix is the video game tie-in with the film The Matrix Reloaded, the first of two sequels many fans were disappointed with. The video game does not allow you to replay events from the movie, rather you play as minor characters from the movie partaking in events that affect the outcome of the sequels. If I remember correctly this was kind of a big deal at the time (2003), but an even bigger deal is that the game was written by the Wachowski brothers, and contains live-action cutscenes with actors from the movie.
So is Enter the Matrix just another movie tie-in game, a sub-par cash-in on a movie that might be considered the same, or did the Wachowskis' influence bring it to a new level, creating a new gameplay experience unlike any other? Well... we are about to find out. I will be playing the GameCube version.
Greg Noe's Note: Paul Eastwood is a fan of the First Hour and volunteered to write this review, hopefully we'll hear more from him in the future. Hey, if he's brave enough to play Enter the Matrix, maybe he can tackle some of the other most awful video games of all time. I've personally played the game once, some random level in the middle of the game that I remember playing similar to Descent. It kept crashing on us when we clipped into walls. Somehow, Enter the Matrix managed to sell over five million copies. I consider the game a seminal moment in video game history: It was rushed to market and betrayed many gamers' trust in game publishers and movie tie-ins. Interesting to note, the game sits at around 70% on GameRankings, so either this game is unfairly panned universally, or the mainstream reviewers were afraid to give such a high profile game a really bad score.
Back to Paul Eastwood's review of Enter the Matrix.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - Easy, Normal, Hard. I choose Normal. Would that be the purple pill?
01 - A live action cutscene featuring Ghost, Sparks, and Niobe. The CG ship looks almost as good as on the movie. The opening cutscene refers to events in the short film Final Flight of the Osiris.
02 - The acting is sub-par, which is strange because it's the same actors as on the movie. I get to choose between Ghost and Niobe. Ghost is an Asian male and Niobe is Jada Pinkett Smith. I choose Ghost.
03 - Loading screen features cascades of green characters, which seems appropriate. In-game cutscene starts.
04 - Niobe drives what appears to be an old Camaro badly. We pull up to a post office, where I'm supposed to be picking up a package. I am asked to save. I haven't done anything yet, but why not?
05 - I gain control inside the Post Office. I figure out how to punch, kick, jump and shoot pretty quickly. Some of the animation is odd. A police officer runs toward me and I gun him down. Why are police always bad guys on games?
06 - I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing. I see a person cowering behind a counter, so I kick and punch him until he lies flat on the floor. I find a door, the on-screen hints say press "action" to open doors. I press several buttons before finding that "Z" is the action button. Weird. I pause the game to view the gameplay tips, which it keeps reminding me of on-screen. Maybe this will make things make more sense. Nope.
07 - The L button goes into "Focus" mode, colloquially known as "Matrix mode." Things slow down, I can see and dodge bullets, and run along walls. It looks pretty cool. There's a focus meter that seems to build back up with time, just like my health.
08 - I accidentally go back-to-wall, which looks cool but I don't know how I did it. I'm not sure where to go, so I play around by jumping into a mail cart and knocking the bottle off of a water cooler.
09 - After a while I get a call from "Sparks" who tells me what I'm supposed to be doing, and an arrow appears on screen telling me where to go. I beat up more police officers, which apparently fills my focus meter.
10 - Ghost runs like a dork.
11 - Martial arts are way more effective than guns. True story.
12 - I kick a police officer in the groin, but I am completely lost. I don't know where I'm supposed to be going.
13 - I find a chain-link fence I can climb with a door on the other side; looks like I finally found my way out. Wait, no, can't open the door.
14 - The room is full of doors that can't be opened. I wall-run in Focus mode to make up for my frustration. I finally get the hint from Sparks as to where I should be going. It took about 5 minutes for that to kick in, but it seemed like forever.
17 - I get alerted that some more gameplay tips are available, so I pause the game to take a look. The tips make the game sound really cool.
19 - I'm trying to escape tear gas, but I can't tell where I'm going because there is no camera control. I'm being shot, but I can't tell where it's coming from.
21 - Shooting first-person in focus mode is cool, you can see the bullets in slow motion.
23 - There's a Powerade machine, product placement just like the movie.
24 - I'm told to find the control room, with no indication as to where that is. However, right after that I get a gameplay tip on how to dive through glass, which makes up for it. I proceed to dive through as much glass as I can find.
25 - The camera makes it hard to tell what's going on during a fight. I think it's supposed to be cinematic, but if I had to do anything more than randomly tap the punch and kick buttons, I'd be in trouble.
27 - I do a disarm move, which looks really cool and relieves the cop of his weapon. He picks his gun back up and I disarm him again. You can tell when the enemy is KO'd because the hit sound effect is different. It's subtle but it works.
28 - I can throttle dudes by going up behind them and pressing action. There's a red package on the desk, that must be my goal. I can't figure out what to do with it. Ok, apparently that wasn't what I was looking for....
30 - I do a different disarm move that's even cooler. Then I go through some more doors.
32 - Lost again. When all else fails, go in the direction with people shooting at you. Turns out I'm in the same room in which I got lost earlier.
33 - I take out my frustrations by choking an innocent bystander. Basically I'm just killing people, I mean killing time until the hint arrow appears.
36 - I found the exit before the hint arrow came up! Awesome!
37 - I find the restrooms. I go in the ladies' first. I can kick open the stall doors, but nobody's in there. Um, there's a couch in here.
38 - The men's restroom has urinals where the couch was in the ladies'. I always thought the ladies' restroom would have more stalls or something. I guess now I know.
40 - Did I mention that so far the whole game has taken place inside a post office? I'm in the PO Box room, but again I don't know what to do.
41 - I happen to press the action button in front of a wall of PO Boxes and accidentally achieve my goal. I notice afterwards that the PO Boxes had numbers on the walls, and remembered Niobe had told me the box number at the beginning of the level. What is this, a point-and-click adventure?
43 - I get a tip on diving out of cover and shooting. It looks sweet, and comes into play in a room the looks like the lobby shootout from the first Matrix movie.
44 - Cops with shotguns and machine guns. When I knock them out I can use them. Cool. Then I get killed.
45 - It sets me back to the last time I saved. Boo.
48 - I get back to the place I got killed last time, and an arrow comes up, but I can't get through the door. I get killed again.
50 - Back again. Sparks tells me to take cover, and an arrow appears pointing toward a door. I try to get through, but it won't open.
51 - I get killed again. There are lots of cops with big guns!
52 - Interesting tidbit: if you press the weapon button while fighting hand-to-hand, Ghost draws his gun and shoot the enemy point-black. It's effective, brutal, and cool.
53 - I scope out the room, trying to figure out where I'm supposed to be going before the cops come out.
55 - I hide in the restroom and wait for my health to regenerate. There's an open vent in the bathroom ceiling! That's where the arrow is pointing! Wait. I can't jump high enough ... In fact there is no way to get in it. Lame.
56 - After killing all the bad guys, the door opens, which just so happens to be on the other side of the wall from the open vent in the restroom. I thought I was supposed to be taking cover there.
57 - After going through several doors in a row (I didn't know Post Offices had so many doors!) I get to save. I breath a sigh of relief, both because I won't have to go back again if I die, and because I only have to play this game for 3 more minutes.
58 - Lost again. Several doors I can't open. At least this room looks different: something broke and is spewing letters everywhere.
60 - The hour ends with me going through another door.
Minutes to Action: 5
Things I liked: Totally sweet kung-fu moves, cool bullet-time special effects, more of the Matrix story.
Things I didn't: Getting lost between every goal. Opening so many doors. So many doors that didn't open. Not being able to find the right door. Did I mention getting lost? Now where was I....
Graphics: I guess they weren't bad for the time, seems like I remember something about how good they looked when it came out, but they are kind of bland. Some of the animation is awesome, some is awful. That should not be.
Sound: Good. The hit effects were nice enough, especially the subtle difference to let you know you had knocked a dude out.
Story: Good start. Tied into The Final Flight of the Osiris, a short prequel to the Matrix Reloaded. All I got was the initial cutscene though.
Fun: Kind of. The fighting was pretty fun, but getting lost almost completely ruined it.
Will I keep playing? I'll probably stick it back in at some point in the future, because a few moves were introduced toward the end made it more interesting, but it's definitely not a game I plan on finishing.
Whew, it's over. Parts of it were fun, and the action actually got started pretty quickly, but I was glad when the hour was over. Actually, at about 45 minutes I was thinking "How much longer do I have to play this?" Probably not a good thing.
This may be the worst game I've ever played. Of course it was only the first hour, but I doubt the level design will get any better. Strangely, they did a good job of capturing the Matrix feel; it was mainly the level design that ruined it. Getting lost so often just destroys all the fun that the cool moves and Matrix-y-ness give it. There was way too much door opening; I wouldn't have minded opening so many doors if there weren't so many doors that couldn't be opened. It made the rooms seem really contrived. Also, the hint arrow seems like an acknowledgment of the bad level design. The designers knew the player was going to get lost for long periods of time, but rather than design the levels better they just stuck the arrow in. It also would have helped if I hadn't died three times on the same area because I didn't understand what I was supposed to do. Full disclosure: I am a big fan of all three Matrix movies. If you didn't like the movies, you will probably like the game even less than I did.