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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Enter the Matrix disappoints
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online

Enter the Matrix is a video game with a difference. For a start it was written and directed by the masterminds behind the Matrix films, Andy and Larry Wachowski.

Screenshot from Enter the Matrix
In the game you can play as ace driver Niobe...
It includes more than an hour of footage shot expressly by the brothers for the game.

And the storyline itself is closely tied into events on the big screen and the animation Matrix spin-off, the Animatrix.

But after many months of work and millions of dollars, Enter the Matrix fails to live up to its promise as a ground-breaking game.

Structured missions

Enter the Matrix takes the vision of the Wachowski brothers of a future when humankind is subservient to machines and transfers it to the gaming world.

If you have ever fancied yourself as Neo fighting evil machines in the world of Matrix, then this might just be the game for you.

Screenshot from Enter the Matrix
...or as gun guru Ghost
Unfortunately you cannot play Keanu Reeves in the game. The makers decided that Neo would have too much power and be able to fly away every time the character got into trouble.

Instead you have a choice of two secondary characters who appear briefly in The Matrix Reloaded, ace driver Niobe or gun guru Ghost.

As either character, you have to undertake a number of highly-structured missions on foot, with occasional car chases and highway shootouts.

A major attraction of the game is fast-paced martial arts moves, combined with various kinds of gunplay, much like in the Matrix movies.

Using a function called focus time, you can slow down time and carry out some of the more spectacular stunts seen in the Matrix movies.

In focus mode, Niobe and Ghost can run across walls, perform deadly combos, and use weapons more accurately.

This is one of the most addictive elements of the game. But after a while, even this is not enough to sustain interest.

Nagging problems

The gameplay is at times frustratingly linear as essentially you are playing out a film script. Following a set path feels a touch old-fashioned, especially in the light of games like Grand Theft Auto which created vast roaming worlds to explore and interact with.

MINIMUM PC REQUIREMENTS
Screenshot from Enter the Matrix
PIII-800 processor
128MB RAM
4.3GB hard drive
32 MB NVIDIA GeForce 256 / ATI Radeon 8500 graphics card

As for its looks, Enter the Matrix faithfully captures the green-tinged world of the Matrix. But the quality is erratic and while some scenes are impressively rendered, others look distinctly average.

At the same time the third person perspective used in the game can be exasperating. It is hard to see what is behind you or off to one side and in the fight sequences the camera switches angles automatically, which can be confusing.

Another nagging problem is the first-person perspective, used for Ghost's sniping missions. But this is more of a gimmick than of any real use, as it is jerky and hard to control accurately.

In the end Enter the Matrix feels more like an interactive movie than an action game.

It excels as an extension of the Matrix universe, giving people a chance to be more than passive bystanders in the struggle to liberate humans from the rule of the machines.

But as a game, it leaves much to be desired.

Enter the Matrix is out now for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube and the PC.




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