THE MATRIX has become a phenomenon ever since the 1999 sci-fi hit blew our minds. Now with the release of two sequels this year also comes ENTER THE MATRIX. This game, developed by Shiny, published by Atari, and written and directed by the Wachowski brothers ties directly into the movie. In fact, there are even full motion video cut scenes that lead directly into or out of scenes from the feature film, that were shot along with the movie specifically for the game. The premise is exciting, but the gameplay doesn't quite measure up.
The game puts players in the role of Captain Naiobi and the other member of her crew, Ghost. There are two different paths through the game depending on the character you choose. Naiobi does the driving in the Matrix and the flying in the Real World, while Ghost takes up the gunner role in both of those scenarios. There are different paths though the levels when you are on foot. It makes so that you must play through the game twice to see all the levels. Of course, the story is what really makes the game worth playing.
There's something inherently cool about getting to see the meeting scene before Morpheus, Neo and Trinity arrive and the different captains all commenting on how they always have to make an entrance. Or just seeing different conversations with the same minor characters we were introduced to in MATRIX RELOADED. The fact that it is its own story in the Matrix universe makes the game.
The gameplay doesn't do anything for the title though. The game looks very cool when you are fighting and using "focus" to slow down time and perform special moves. But many times it's just a matter of killing enemies, running to the next room, killing more enemies, wash, rinse, repeat. That said, it does look cool.... But that's really it. Your health and focus recharges rather quickly, so if you get hurt, hiding gets you back up to snuff really quickly. Besides that, each portion of the game is relatively short, and then you have to save, and load the next area. The driving part of the game is mediocre as well, I was more frustrated by it than anything.
One cool part of the game is the DOS-based Hacking mode that allows you to fumble around looking at files, movies, and other information, as well as cheats for the game or special modes (like multiplay). I found this to be one of the more entertaining aspects, although it was slightly annoying at times. It brought back the old days of booting up DIG DUG or FROGGER on an old PC.
Graphically, the game won't blow you away at all. There are a ton of framerate issues, and nothing ever really seemed to work for me. The game just looks behind the times. The special effects are pretty cool though, and when you are fighting or using focus, the game will stop traffic.
The sound is actually good with Dolby Pro Logic II support. The voices from the actors are all used and the sound effects and music are top notch. Everything is as it should be here.
While ENTER THE MATRIX ties in really well with the movie franchise, it isn't much of a game. Fans of the series should rent it to check out the story, and then decide on a purchase.