The Matrix: Path of Neo Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

The Matrix: Path of Neo Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

It’s painful to watch a story you love become a victim to a horrible adaptation. I’m sure just looking at the title of this game, and given it’s origin, “The Matrix” is enough to frighten you and put you in a frenzy to hit the X button and close this window.

The Matrix has had a horrible outing in the videogame industry. The Matrix franchise has received absolutely no love ever since its first videogame adaptation saw the light of day, no love what so ever.

Enter The Matrix seemed like a great idea, telling the story from a different point of view, and using the videogame to bridge the second and third movies. However, ugly graphics and horrible controls were the ultimate demise of this title. The Matrix Online, once again, was a great idea. An MMO set in the Matrix world. Ask anyone who’s played MxO (The Matrix Online) and they will be able to count off the many, many flaws in the game.

Needless to say that any game with “The Matrix” in its title has earned the reputation to be feared and avoided at all costs. And why? Due to both videogames missing what could be argued as the story’s main character, Neo.

Incidentally enough, Neo’s first appearance in the videogame industry also marks the appearance of the greatest Matrix game, and dare I say the most entertaining action adventure game this year.

The Matrix: Path of Neo is an interesting title in the way of the Matrix storyline. Along your journey under the black shades, you’ll visit familiar locales and run into some familiar faces. However, a lot of the outcomes will ultimately be different. You will also bare witness to occurrences that happened between the movies that help mold Neo into who he is.

Or was.

Following this title along its journey from adolescence into adulthood was special in the way of witnessing the evolution of the graphics that this game offers. PoN is crisp and clear and provides incredibly detailed models of its on-screen counterparts. The many, many animations that occur in game, from jumping off a wall then firing round after round from your M-16 into the chest of a security guard to grabbing 3 enemies whom are surrounding you and using their bodies as weapons to whack each other, are all flawless.

The most beautiful aspect to this game definitely belongs to the level design. All the levels feel open and spacious, giving Neo plenty of room to execute his many, and devastating, attacks. The way each level looks is flawless. The bitmaps used to skin every inch of a level were as crisp as could be. The only other game that I can think of that could rival the level design of Path of Neo would be Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.

Next we take a look at the sound, which received the lowest score in my ratings. I think it’s awesome that Shiny was able to get the Matrix actors to do their own voice-overs, but also got he Wachowski brothers themselves (I’ll touch upon their cameo later). There were times though when Neo spoke and I found myself doubting whether it was Keanu Reeves or not. I believe that due to some slight alterations to the story line, that the feeling and expression that the actors portrayed didn’t have the same impact as it did onscreen. Conveying similar emotions in a videogame has proven to be a bit more difficult than on the silver screen.

I couldn’t let Neo get away from me without a little bit of detest.

The story of the Matrix is a long and winding one, full of religious blather. Adapting a self-sacrificial ending (which resembles a certain religious figure) into a videogame is quite difficult. After all, how fun is that? So what do you do?

Call in the Wachowskis.

Just like Enter the Matrix and The Matrix Online, the Wahckowski brothers had a large influence on the making of this game, probably more so than the previous titles. The Wachowskis were so involved that they designed the ending level to the Path of Neo.

Prepare for spoilers

After you defeat Smith in what would be the game’s final level, old Atari 2600 like characters (ironic?) appear on screen voiced by the Wachowskis. They go on to explain how they wanted to create a big bad boss, so they did. Introduce Mega Smith. This level was the second most disappointing aspect of the game. You have a giant Agent Smith made of cars and buildings and all you have to do is avoid his attacks and hit the X button when the screen tells you to.

That’s it.

It does seem easy enough, but unfortunately is all this level has to offer. Oh, and I forgot to mention that this level is 15 minutes too long. Even playing this level on easy, avoiding every attack that is thrown at you and defeating Smith as fast as you can, you are looking at 15 to 20 minutes of button mashing. But hey, the Brothers Matrix forewarned you.

More Spoiler Alert Regarding The Ending

And what do you receive as a reward for fighting through the entire game and struggling through the final and pointless level? A small, poorly cut montage of the final Matrix movie with Queen’s “We Are The Champions” playing over it all.

When I heard that song play I had to restrain from throwing my controller into the screen. Alas, I’m a professional. I did however feel cheated that my reward for playing through what I considered to be a long and grueling game was a clip of the default sports championship victory song. I also felt that the addition of the Queen song slightly cheapened the Matrix storyline.

Spoiler Alert Over

In the end, Matrix the Path of Neo is a Matrix game that FINALLY got it right. You’re able to pull off all the cool moves and abilities that Neo possesses, including fighting off hundreds of Smiths at once, pole and all. With great graphics and great controls, this title will definitely impress with the first and second play through. A multiplayer mode (which was originally designed for the game) would have been the cherry on top of the cake, however you can only fight all alone. So unless you’re a hardcore Matrix fan, you may only run through this game once or twice.

The path is now laid down before you. Will you walk it? Will you prove to be The One?

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