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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
Matrix game aims to set new standard

Matrix fans will soon have a chance be part of the action in the Enter the Matrix game. BBC News Online's Alfred Hermida spoke to the game's developer, David Perry, about blurring the line between celluloid and computer code.

Screen grab from Enter the Matrix
The Wachowski brothers wrote the script for the game

BBC News Online: Your company, Shiny, has put two years' work into Enter the Matrix. How would you describe the finished product?

David Perry: We're very, very proud of what we've accomplished. The game is a true Matrix movie experience - just like another Matrix movie that's experienced as a game.

Characters that can break all the rules, like running on walls and making impossible leaps, tearing up the room with tons of bullets and big, crazy car chases. Plus, there's an hour of original film footage, created just for the game.

BBC: What was the impact on the game of the involvement of Andy and Larry Wachowski, the directors of The Matrix films?

DP: The game couldn't be possible without the Wachowskis, simple as that. They wrote the script, directed the action, and provided complete access to the entire film production.

They approached the project with the same level of detail and care that they pour into the Matrix films themselves.

'Worst mistake of my career'

BBC: What were the main challenges in turning their vision of The Matrix into a game?

Screen grab from Enter the Matrix
The game features 'crazy' car chases

DP: Just wrapping your mind around everything that had to happen was the biggest challenge. I didn't think it would be possible at first. We had to get all the actors, all the costume designers, all the set designers together and working on the video game.

Everything in the film had to be in the game, so that meant a new animation system so characters would fight with real kung fu, driving levels, flying levels, characters that fired thousands of bullets at a time. And then on top of that, we wanted a hacking system to add yet another layer of depth.

BBC: Is it true that you turned down the Wachowski brothers when they first asked you to work on a game based on The Matrix?

DP: True story. We turned them down in 1999. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. I had worked with movie licences before, both successful and unsuccessful. No one knew anything about the Matrix.

But then when I saw it in the theatre, I was absolutely blown away and knew right there that I had made the worst mistake of my career.

So when the Wachowskis and producer Joel Silver came calling again, I wasn't about to make the same mistake twice.

Secondary characters

BBC: How would you describe the game play of Enter the Matrix?

Shiny President David Perry
This game represents an entirely new model for how movies are licensed for games
David Perry, Shiny President

DP: It's a roller-coaster ride, just like the movies. You'll play as either Niobe or Ghost, two rebels on the same level and rank as Morpheus and Trinity. Niobe is the captain of the ship, and Ghost is the weapons guru.

BBC: Why did you decide to focus the game on two secondary characters from Reloaded, Niobe and Ghost, rather than Neo and Trinity?

DP: There are two major reasons. First, while Trinity would make a great character, Neo is too powerful. If you remember at the end of the first movie, Neo has become "the One", and he's now a god within the Matrix. If he ever got into trouble, he can just fly away.

But more importantly, the Wachowskis wanted to tell their Matrix story across different media - film, game, anime - and Neo and Trinity's story appears in the film.

The film story follows those two characters, so the game story follows two other characters, and the result is a massive story with lots of paths to follow.

Movie adaptations

Screen grab from Enter the Matrix
In the game you can play as rebel captain Niobe...

BBC: Many game adaptations of films have been disappointing. How can you make sure this does not happen when turning a film into a game?

DP: The key here is the involvement of the Wachowskis. I've made movie-licensed games before, like the Terminator for Orion Pictures. That was a disaster, because I wasn't allowed to use anything significant from the movie itself.

I asked if I could have Arnold Schwarzenegger in the game. No. How about Linda Hamilton, you know, Sarah Conner, the hero? No. How can you have a Terminator game without the two main characters?

The Wachowskis keenly recognise this, and that's why they were so closely involved with the creation of the game. We had all the actors and access to the entire production - that kind of collaboration is what's going to lift the game above the usual perceptions of games based on movies.

BBC: You have been quoted as saying that this game is going to change the face of the game industry. How and why?

DP: This game represents an entirely new model for how movies are licensed for games. In the past, you've seen the old models, where you license a character, or part of a movie, or even if Hollywood tries to make the game themselves.

Screen grab from Enter the Matrix
...or play as weapons guru Ghost

Apart from a few winners like Goldeneye, the results have just been lacklustre.

Instead, for this game, we've got a new model, where the filmmakers are involved right from the beginning, providing the key creative components - script, actors, access - that allow the game to be made a new way, the right way.

The Wachowskis view this as an integral part of the entire experience, not just a licensed knock off, like a Matrix lunchbox. They've blazed a trail here, and we think Hollywood will follow.

David Perry is President of Shiny, which developed Enter the Matrix for publisher Atari. The game is released on 15 May for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube and the PC.

The BBC's Razia Iqbal
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