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reviews >> playstation 2
Enter The Matrix

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Shiny Entertainment
Year Released: 2003
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 7
Disappointing. I would have expected so much more from the material that was given here. The stages are pretty bland with some occasionally nice effects, some objects are way too blocky, and while the character models look fantastic, their animations tend to be a bit strange, especially when running.
Audio 8.75
Obviously, the voice acting is great since we have real Hollywood talent, and the music score is great, because it's done from the same people who did the score for the movie. But there's some strange echoing glitches, and the music tends to loop abruptly.
Gameplay 7.25
The gameplay is hit and miss. Too much of the time it seems like a mindless brawler. The game is almost set up like the current James Bond games, where you have action stages and driving stages mixed around. Some of the moves that are done here that come from the Matrix movies are pretty much gimmicks, and hardly help you out.
Replay Value 8
It will take some time to complete the game, and if you felt pretty satsified beating it the first time, maybe you'll want to do it again with the other selectable character.
Reviewer's Impression 7
I would have expected for a game based upon the Matrix franchise to somehow change the landscape of gaming just like it has for movies. Basically, all it's revolutionized is how we can get people to buy everything related to this storyline.
Overall 7.5
It's (the game) so typical of the "big budget" movies these days, where you have a lot of flash and little substance. Here, the flash is the exclusive movie footage to tie in the Matrix movies, while the "little substabnce" is the gameplay itself. In the end, this just becomes another typical action video game.

On paper, basing a game off the Matrix series sounds like a no-brainer. In fact, it's suprising we didn't see one when the Martix first came out in spring 1999. Of course, with the technology we had then, the game probably would have blown hard. Would you really want the see the Matrix on the PS1? So, when Warner Bros. decided to bring not only one, but two Matrix films for 2003, it was only time before we would see a game based upon the franchise. Enter The Matrix is the tie-in to the Matrix movies, going beyond the film and bringing a new level of entertainment to the masses. But as ambitious as the game is, without the Matrix license, the game really feels as standard as an action title can get.

Enter The Matrix is a side-story of sorts in the world of the Matrix, where you take the role of Niobe or Ghost to try and stop whatever is about to happen. The story of this game is pretty confusing, and knowing that I haven't seen Matrix Reloaded, that's probably why I just don't understand what is going on. This is a bit of one of the game's faults. If you've never seen the Matrix films or are not into the Martix all that much, this game won't mean much to you, since you won't know the entire story, and will not be able to make much sense out of the game. This is pretty much for the fans and followers of the movie. But, despite the story, the in-game cinematics are as good as they could get for a video game. Using the actual actors of the movie, as well as the sets and the production team, Enter The Matrix has a fairly high empahsis on presentation. Too bad the actual game doesn't follow suit.

Throughout the game, you'll unravel the story of what is happening in this world. You start at a post office, then move on to places such as the airport, a nuclear facillity and so forth. The game is pretty much a mix of fighting and driving. It really doesn't go beyond the action premise. There's no puzzles to solve, keys and items to find (that often) or any real side-quests. And it's like this for the whole game. You pretty much go through stage by stage engaging in hand-to-hand combat, shooting or trying some other way to subdue your enemies. After a few stages, this just becomes tedious. As for the driving stages, they're pretty dull as well. The Bond games did driving stages better and made them more interesting. The whole game just feels uncompelling the way the action is presented. You do have a "focus" meter, which slows everything down to help you take out enemies, as well as perform special moves, but this isn't new. Games such as Bloodrayne already beat this game to the punch.

The control scheme takes some getting used to. It's not overly complex, but even after playing for a couple of hours, I was still fumbling with some of the functions. It's been almost a month since I've played the game, but I still remember how odd the control felt. And come to think of it, some buttons were pulling double duty, which seemed kind of sloppy. Straffing isn't as easy as it should have been, and having limited motion when you're aiming sucks.

The graphics are a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have some really great looking player models. It's obvious a lot of attention was devoted here. But then there are the character animations. When one of the main characters run, it looks ridiculous. If you remember the Busta Rhymes video "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See", you may remember the scene where Busta was running from an elephant with his arms swinging up in the air. That's how they look here. I was almost waiting to hear that song come up because you see it so much. The environments are fairly dull. There's not much of a broad color pallete, in fact, Ikaruga has more color than this. The textures are pretty flat and uninspring. But then there are some subtle effects such as reflections. Some polygonal models such as the cars look pretty bad. Some things have a low-poly count, and look pretty blocky. There was also quite a bit of flickering and even some unsteadiness in the framerate. You know you're in the world of the Matrix, but it looks too flat to be called realistic.

The sound is pretty impressive. You have the score of the film to increase the drama of the world you play in, although I did hear quite a bit of looping. The voice acting is top-notch, but then again, you have real actors such as Jada Pinkett Smith doing the voice overs. The only problem is with the sound is some echoing that occurs in some in-game cutscenes. It happens every once in awhile, but it makes the game seem rushed (well, that's because it was).

The PS2 is capable of better. I've seen and played games that look better than Enter The Matrix, and this holds true for the other console versions. While the production values are apparently high, the actual game just falls flat. I played quite a bit of the game, and at times it was entertaining (especially "The Kiss" that shows up in a cutscene later on). I might have enjoyed the story more if I had seen Matrix Reloaded, but as it is, I couldn't make much of it. But in terms of gameplay, it could have been better. It really didn't go beyond a typical arcade brawler of the 90's. I hate to say it, but the action in Bloodrayne was a lot more fun than it was here. If there's another game in the works, I hope the graphics are better and the gameplay has more depth beyond punching and shooting people. It's hard to recommend a game that is so ambitious in it's production values, and yet doesn't have the game design to back it up. Great as a rental, but that's as far as I would go.