The Matrix: Path of Neo - Review
It's undeniable that The Matrix movies were a massive hit. The first movie from the Wachowski brothers came out in the same year as George Lucas' Star Wars Episode I and offered science fiction fans a movie which was cool, had great action scenes and most importantly (for many) no Jar Jar Binks. The next two Matrix movies divided opinion, some people loved the philosophical second movie, some people preferred the more action packed and faster pacing of the third movie. Just prior to the third movies release Atari unleashed a game by the name of Enter The Matrix, one of the most disappointing movie tie-ins of all time - not because it was average, but rather that it failed to live anywhere up to the hype. Oh, and perhaps the fact that you couldn't play as the Neo - the main character in the movies - didn't help either! But as the title of this game suggests Path of Neo is all about that character, so at least Shiny have gone one major thing right this time.
|Graphics are spectacular.|
With a game length of approximately 15 hours or so this isn't the longest game you'll encounter in your life but due to the wide range of gameplay styles, and entertaining combat, the time goes by pretty fast. The first mission in the game is a great way to begin with Neo in his office tower being hunted down by Agent Smith and a many of security guards and having to duck from room to room to elude capture. The game doesn't just follow the events of the movie but greatly expands on them with Neo progressing to the top of the skyscraper before making his way back down to the streets below. What was a few minutes in the movie turns into a much longer game sequence, and one which will keep you on your toes.
|Martial arts training.|
After this great beginning the next section of the game bogs down into a series of training sequences set in a variety of locations. From the battle with Morpheus in the Dojo to defending yourself against numbers of enemies in a Japanese garden what's here is good, but totally removes you from the main storyline for quite some time. Fortunately one of the most enjoyable aspects of this game is the combat. The training missions give Neo more abilities and special moves. There's nothing like running up onto an enemy, flipping over and cracking his head with the heel of your foot. Gunplay is equally impressive and quite enjoyable.
Sadly Path of Neo still isn't as good as it should have been and indeed it seems that Atari probably pushed Shiny to get the game out the door in time for the last big current generation Christmas before gamers move focus to next generation. As a result the game feels somewhat underdone with some poor level design. While some missions seem to be expanded, they also start to seem a little too familiar too quickly. Also baffling is the decision by the Wachowski's to change the ending seen in the movie for this game. I'm not going to spoil it for you however it's quite baffling that the change was actually made. Perhaps it's a way in which they tried to add value to the game, and justify the purchase with gamers. Either way it just seems wrong. One area where the game did piss me off was the stealth sections. When Neo is pressed against a wall he seems to stick there and only by running away from the wall does he come bursting out, often right into the sight of the enemies. It's just not a user friendly way to play the game and an area which could have easily been fixed. Finally the game is totally devoid of any multi-player modes. The combat would have been tremendous with a couple of humans battling it out but sadly we feel that the game engine probably wasn't up to the task.
|The lobby from the first movie.|
Graphics in Path of Neo are a bit of a mixed bag. It must be said that the developers have superbly recreated many of the locations from the movies, and even expanded on many of them with more areas to explore. The amount of detail is pretty good with many destroyable objects and quite impressive animation on all the characters. In fact, the range of moves on offer is extremely impressive, with dozens of moves on offer.
|Shooting from the walls.|
Shiny have used an extensive range of effects from light blooming to normal mapping, but in doing so the game struggles with the frame rate at times. Strangely an XBox version we played seemed to be plagued with more slowdown then the PS2 game so I guess thatís a bonus for PS2 owners. Also problematic are the camera angles with plenty of manual work required to point them in the right direction. Unfortunately one area where you would expect this game to shine - that being the cut scenes - are a massive disappointment. The developers have chopped and re-edited scenes from the movies and it makes the storyline even more confusing - if you haven't seen the movies we certainly recommend you check them out before playing this game that's for sure.
With Dolby Pro Logic II and THX certification there was little doubt that the audio would be a feature of the game and while some phrases can be a little repetitive there is little doubt that this is a Matrix game. The developers of Path of Neo had a rich library to draw assets from with a range of effects, voiceovers and music available to use from the movies. For the most part the audio has been used quite well in the game - although it seems some music wasn't available for use in the game - perhaps it was too expensive to license.
|Yep, more Neo wall running.|
The Matrix: Path of Neo really has so many problems that it shouldn't score so highly, but it does for one simple reason - it's still a very entertaining game with great combat sequences. This is vastly superior to the rather crap Enter The Matrix so if you liked that you'll love this. A good game which Matrix fans should check out.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Camera needs work, frame rate problems, but great effects.||71%|
|SOUND||One of the highlights of the game with THX certification.||86%|
|GAMEPLAY||It's quite fun, but frame rate issues hurt. So does the butchered story.||75%|
|VALUE||If you're a Matrix fan this game is probably worth a look, little replay.||72%|
|OVERALL||Still not the game we were hoping for but The Matrix: Path of Neo is a game which Matrix fans will likely enjoy if only to expand on the movies slightly.||74%|