Finally finally finally there's a Matrix videogame that lets you play as the one character that you've always wanted to play as ever since that first Matrix movie came out in theaters. No, it's not Trinity or Morpheus... though that probably would be cool too... but I'm talking about our man Neo, also known as "The One" and "Mr. Anderson". Of course you probably already guessed that based on the title of the game, "Path of Neo". Anyway, you start out in a level designed to test your skill. It takes place in that one pillared lobby room from the first movie where Neo and Trinity shoot it out with guards on the start of their attempt to rescue Morpheus. In this level, the game pours waves of guards after you, with each wave increasing in difficult. If you do poorly, then the game will only let you select the easy setting, but you can replay the stage as much as you until you do well enough to select the normal or hard setting.
The first real level of the game is a stealth stage. You play as Mr. Anderson who, like in the movie, is in the office building where he works. Morpheus is on a cell phone directing you about when and where to hide, and when and where to move. Unlike the movie, once you make it out onto the edge, the scene isn't over. Instead, you must now make your way all along the outside of the building until you make it to the roof. If you are captured by an agent, you can elect to either accept the capture or to retry your escape. To make a successful escape, you'll not only need to get to the roof, but then need to go back inside the building and make it all the way down to the ground floor. Your only defense is a little push move you have to knock guards out of the way, and you really have to watch out for trigger happy cops. Luckily this is the only stealth mission in the game, and the only one where you feel completely helpless.
Next up is training missions, designed to teach you how to use many of the moves that you'll be using throughout the game... and there are quite a few! Hand-to-hand combat is what you'll be using most often, and it does take some getting used to. Eventually it becomes second nature, including string together various combinations, thanks a lot in part to the game providing hints by displaying button icons in the lower left-hand corner of the screen as a suggestion of what you could press.
In addition to hand-to-hand combat, you'll also be introduced into weapons such as swords and staffs, which fairly easy to get the hang of, and gun-play, which is quite difficult. I think the really could have refined the gun-play controls a bit better. As it is, you have to hold down a button just to have your guns out, then press another button to fire, and the right joystick to target, and all this becomes even more difficult when you're trying to use the left joystick to move while pressing another button to use your bullet-time ability.
The bullet-time ability, called "Focus", not only lets you slow time down to make sense of all the action that's currently taking place, but it also makes you more powerful and gives you moves and abilities that you would not otherwise have. For instance, you can active bullet-time to help you jump much higher or stop bullets. Or as another example, in bullet-time mode you can target objects such as fire extinguishers or other explosive contains for shooting, where as in normal mode your gun cursor will not select them as a target (though if you're super skillful you can still hit the things). Going into bullet-time mode will also let you pull of combos that you would otherwise not get, and these combos can be really helpful in dealing with agents. In between levels you can upgrade moves, some of which require activation of bullet-time.
The graphics in this game aren't bad, but I've seen better, and I'm not just talking about on Xbox and GameCube. I've seen better in other PlayStation 2 games, such as the Prince of Persia series. But the graphics are good enough to serve their purpose. It's not difficult to tell the characters apart and the levels all look pretty detailed. The animation, for the most part, is smooth and really gives off the vibe of the movies. All of Neo's moves that you see in the films are in this game, even if some are kind of hard to pull off.
Cut up and re-ordered sequences from the movies are shown between stages to help move the story along. It's a bit disorienting at first, especially if you've seen the films, but you get used to it. There also some really funny jokes and funny situations thrown in throughout the game, such as one stage where you're fighting Serif on a theater stage while the Neo/Serif fight scene from the movie plays on a screen in the background and some guy out in the seats who's trying to watch the film keeps yelling at you two.
One thing I really have to say about this game is that it's short. I have no doubt that you could get through the whole game in one weekend (or even one day, depending how obsessive you are). Also, the end boss battle is really pretty lame. In other stages you get to move around the level almost wherever you want, whereas in the last boss battle you are very limited in your movement. Basically all you get to do is move side-to-side, which really restricts the number of strategies you have to choose from. So figuring out what you're supposed to do doesn't take long at all.
Once the games over, the ending is... disappointing. You can replay it again on a harder difficulty level, but there isn't much incentive to replay it again, especially if you already discovered the few secrets that were littered throughout the game on your first time around. A two player cooperative mode would have really helped out in this department. Anyway, if your a fan of the movies, and I mean all three of the movies, then you'll most likely be a fan of this game. For everyone else I'd recommend a rental.
THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO marks the second collaboration of Atari and its Shiny Entertainment development studio; the Wachowski Brothers, creators of The Matrix trilogy; and Joel Silver, executive producer of the trilogy. In May 2003, Atari released ENTER THE MATRIX, a parallel timeline to THE MATRIX RELOADED and a bridge to THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, which debuted at #1 atop gaming charts around the world and has sold nearly 6 million units worldwide to date.
THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO will follow the story of the blockbuster motion picture trilogy THE MATRIX, THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and for the first time allow gamers to play as "Neo" and become "The One." A game of blockbuster caliber, Shiny also worked closely with the Award winning talent behind the Matrix trilogy to ensure that every aspect in design, sound and special effects would be authentic to the original experience.
Gamers will play as "Neo," but from the moment the game begins, how the situations play out, how they handle them, how they deal with the events, where they go, how people react to them -- it's all up to the gamer. They may win where "Neo" failed or find another way to solve the problem -- the path is now theirs to follow.
As "Neo," the choices the player makes to resolve each scenario and the resulting consequences may have a different result than the original films. Alternative scenarios filled with new characters, content and storylines have all been written and planned by the Wachowski Brothers to expand the Matrix universe and overall gaming experience.
- Gamers will assume the role of "Neo" � from when he as Thomas Anderson gets the cell phone in the package from "Morpheus," to the flying street battle in the rain against "Agent Smith." ALL the key moments that gamers have asked for have been included.
- Once again blurring the lines between Hollywood and interactive entertainment, THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO will feature the likenesses of all of the films� key actors -- including Keanu Reeves ("Neo"), Laurence Fishburne ("Morpheus"), Carrie-Ann Moss ("Trinity), Hugo Weaving ("Agent Smith") and Jada Pinkett-Smith ("Niobe").
- To truly immerse the gamer in the Matrix universe, the game will feature a "Director�s Cut" of the original movie footage from all three films and THE ANIMATRIX as cinematic sequences to progress the story told from "Neo�s" perspective. An exclusive to THE MATRIX PATH OF NEO, the footage was edited by Zach Staenberg, the Academy Award winning editor of THE MATRIX working side by side with the Wachowski Brothers.
- Re-creating the incredible ambience of being in the Matrix, THE MATRIX PATH OF NEO will feature a full orchestral score playing in surround sound, developed to follow the action of the game. In addition, the games� soundtrack will feature original songs by the bands that were featured in the Matrix films.
- The player will use martial arts, medieval weapons and guns (lots of guns) to take on a variety of enemies, such as heavily armed SWAT officers; Agents of the Matrix, including "Agent Smith;" and Exiles in the employ of the Merovingian.
- The game will have enhanced "Bullet Time" special effects from the films and allow gamers to dodge bullets, jump off walls and defy gravity and logic to recreate its most memorable scenes.
- To re-create "Neo�s" incredible range of moves THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO will also feature a more sophisticated martial arts engine to give gamers the true feeling of being "The One."