Let me start by saying that I'm a huge fan of the Matrix. I grew up on Philip K. Dick novels, and the whole Matrix concept is one I've always loved. I thought the movie's plot, characters and special effects were great. Also, I'm a big fan of Splinter Cell and played it many times. I've always loved the Bond style games where you work your way through a level, finding objectives and taking out the bad guys.
First, the good parts. It was directed by the Wachowski brothers and features the quite talented actors and actresses from the movies. It really ties in to the movie and sort of 'immerses' you in the experience. So that is quite neat. They do have Matrix-time "focus", much like in Dead to Rights, where you can temporarily slow time and do cool moves. Just like in Dead to Rights, it seems cool at first and is hardly used in actual gameplay.
Gameplay is intriguing. You're given general objectives but then have to figure out how to get to them. So you're not exactly led by the nose. There are sometimes big rooms with lots of directions, lots of offices, lots of choices. Still, the game is about getting from Point A to Point B. I definitely miss Vice City's free-roam ability.
I was pretty disappointed by the graphics. There are many other games out right now with truly STELLAR graphics, and this isn't one of them. Objects vanish from the screen. The rendering just isn't very good, compared to other games we play quite a bit. The physics models are a bit bizarre. People slide like hockey pucks across the floor. You can leap on some things but not on others, apparently at random.
The sound has serious issues. My brand new CD right from the store started double-talking almost immediately in several scenes. Also, one of the hallmarks of a great game is that the sound is context sensitive - quiet and brooding at times, thundering at the exciting parts. But this game is ALWAYS thundering. It gets very monotonous after a while and completely destroys the atmosphere.
The load time is incredibly long, and many missions are incredibly short. There are times that you almost load longer than you get to play that mission area! With the instant-reheal-totally, the instant-restart-10-seconds-ago and the lack of challenging enemies to fight, most of the game is a cakewalk.
Add to that the quite annoying aspect that there are times that a door won't open until you kill all enemies in the room. So you go around and check the doors, but you have to slay everyone there before the "special door" will open up. Yes, some games use that technique. But this game in general is supposed to be a realistic adventure. In realistic adventures, doors don't sense when all enemies are dead and then spring open.
AI, one of THE most important parts of any game, is spotty at best. Sometimes the guards hide behind cover. Sometimes they stand in the open when cover is right next door. I've had cases where a guard stood pointing a gun at a door even though I was right behind him, pounding the stuffing out of 2 of his friends. He didn't even turn around until I bashed him in the head.
And finally, the camera is just plain annoying. Every friend I've had try this game says the same thing. They all play tons of adventure and action games. Somehow this game just does a bad job with positioning the camera anywhere useful.
The game really had a great deal of potential and I think with another month or two in QA testing it could have shone. But there are many, many areas that appear to have gotten through in a "good enough" state instead of a "ready for prime time" state.
Yes, I'll play the game. And yes, I'll see the movies many, many times and talk about them endlessly with my programmer / hacker friends. But I do feel let down that with all of the money and talent available to the Wachowski brothers, they didn't give this game the attention it merited. They focussed on the MOVIE aspect of the game, but not the GAME aspect.
Enter the Matrix Walkthrough
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