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Matrix the Path of Neo PS2 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 9.8
Sound 9.0
Value 9.0
Distributor: Atari
Review Date:
January 2005
Edwin Millheim


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The Matrix Path of Neo

The Matrix Path Of Neo follows not just one of the movies or a small part of the story, but as the titles implies, it follows the Path Of Neo. In so doing it covers all three of the films. The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. That in itself may not be enough to make you want to play this game, the fact that you get to take control of the main character Neo though, is more than enough. Following Neo on the path to becoming∑‰the One.‰ Is rather fun. Frustrating at times, as is many a game out there. But who is out there that has seen the movies that did not more than once long to take control of the character in a game world situation and go at it? To be able to do all the cool moves and a whole lot more? Well folks here it is. Matrix Path Of Neo if anything is „the One game‰ that delivers the goods at long last in that respect.

Gamers play as Neo and things that happened in the movies, don‚t necessarily have to happen in the game. The players choices, and the way they deal with things during game play all have some effect on the over all game. In the films if Neo failed during a certain task, which does not mean the player is going to automatically fail. It is all on the gamer/player. The player IS walking the path of Neo.

Sounds cool heh? For the most part it is. This is not to say that a game cannot end with Neo being captured at a wrong time or killed. What‚s great is that rather than making the player start the whole darn thing over again from the very beginning. it restarts things just a few moments before the failure. There are all kinds of alternate scenarios and new characters, all of the content and storylines all penned by the Wachowski Brothers. Maybe it‚s their way of saying sorry for Matrix Revolutions. If nothing else it helps get that bad taste left by the mediocre „Enter The Matrix‰ game. How ever you want to explain it, some of the training sequences involved are just a blast to play and as with the films pay tribute to some of the most awesome action films out there. Influences from films such as some of the Samurai cinema films, and even Jackie Chan‚s Drunken Master when axe wielding thugs press the attack and it‚s up to you to take out as many as you can within a timed limit, and on to gun battles influenced by such great films as Hard Boiled and other John Woo films. All of these levels make it interesting and actually fun to train. There are some issues with gun play and targeting, but more on that later.

Thankfully this time around the game is light years ahead of the „Enter The Matrix‰ game, or at least visually, and play ably∑(Is that even a word?) not sure. But Matrix Path Of Neo is sure to be covering everything a fan would really want from a Matrix game. Walking the Path as Neo and get this∑this time around you can actually win. Unlike the movies which we see the end of some of the coolest characters, in this game, the player as Neo can succeed in the final fight to save all of mankind and live to tell about it.

First let‚s talk about the characters in the game, Allies, Enemies and other Non Player Character types. As the game progresses the player as Neo with fight along with other characters, Some of the more notable characters are of course Morpheus who is the captain of the Nebuchadenessar, that really cool hover like craft that they get around in the underground and destroyed earth in. Of course there is the very beautiful and just as deadly Trinity, One of the interesting curves that come along in the game is the introduction of characters that are called Red Pills. These are characters that are just becoming awake to the truth of the Matrix. Each of these „Red Pill‚s‰ has a special trait that has now made them a target for the Agents. Making it a mission goal weather it‚s noted or not, to learn the traits because these traits can be useful during a mission. Civilians are also peppered throughout the game. They for the most part are oblivious to what is really going on. Some times they can be helpful. Now some other types are rather dangerous to Neo. These progress from a small danger or annoyance to out right deadly. Security officers or police are for the most part easy to handle. Only when they are in great numbers or have support with weapons such as shotguns and gas can they pose any real threat.

SWAT teams are next on the danger meter. These characters are elite and they carry automatic weapons and grenades. In line with other types of law enforcement or military units are the soldiers. Far better trained than the other types and armed with heavier weapons, these characters are a real pain in the butt to handle.

Next are two types that can actually be considered equal when it comes to being deadly. Exiles are the first ones. These are rogue programs that do not follow the rules of the Machine world and are now living in exile within the Matrix, these are different types and all having different abilities. Then of course there are the Agents. These guys are just out right deadly and almost unbeatable. They have awesome skills in hand to hand combat and also have speed and extreme strength. It‚s almost not worth fighting them because they just respawn at full strength using another body close by.

Path Of Neo uses very similar controls as „Enter The Matrix‰, on the PS2 version triangle is punch, circle is throw, square is evade/roll and then X is jump. R2 draws the current weapon, R1 fires it, L1 enables Focus (this is so the character can pull of some of the ultra cool moves from the films), and L2 opens doors and activates things plus allows Neo to back up against walls for cover. Digital pad is used to cycle through weapons and to use the special ability of viewing the Matrix in its true code form. Right analogue stick controls movement and the left stick controls the angle of the camera.

The Xbox controls are Left thumb stick movement; Left thumb stick for the camera, Black button is the action button and can be used to back up against objects for cover. Y is strike, B is special attack such as killing blow, A is jump (Double press for a double jump) X is evade, Left Trigger is focus, Right Trigger is fire weapon.

Now, all this is great, but I still think the targeting could have been better. I mean here I was getting shot by guys‚ right there in front of me, but no matter what I do, the target system chooses someone in another room who I cannot even see! A sorry folk for this alone the game looses some points with me.

Neo starts the game with no real combat skills to speak of. You can shove people away from you. That‚s about it. But that does not last long, as Neo progresses along through the Matrix his skills progress as well. Fighting skills are picked up in no time and some pretty cool moves are at Neos command. Kungfu and weapons skills come in handy and make for some pretty eye popping slow motion Matrix moves that are just plain fun to perform. Using Focus and chaining attacks together the player is in for some real treats such as one of my favorites some super fast punches to the tune of like 30 or so and then a finishing slow motion move to an opponents jaw. CRUNCH! Not to worry about trying to memorize or know when the correct button press is needed either. Little icons pop up that gives the player a hint as to what button press to use for some maximum butt kicking.

Then of course there are guns. Lots of Guns. Each one having there own damage levels as appropriate to the type. Gun battles are load messy and crap goes flying everyplace. Very nice. Again, the frustration of gun battles almost does not make it worth while though. But boy, gun fights look great in this game.

Of course using focus Neo can pull of some of the all too familiar and cool moves ala Matrix. Such as wall runs and other slow motion moves. There is a little meter that shows the duration left in Neos focus abilities. As the skill progresses Neo can focus a lot longer and this sure comes in handy later in the game as enemies get more and more numerous and deadly I kid you not. Focus can be recharged by simply fighting in some kind of combat, in normal mode. Nice.

Within the game as Neo progresses there is a kind of role Playing Game upgrade system. With this the player can upgrade to new skills at the end of each stage. What‚s available depends on how well Neo/the player did during the level.

Now of course we all look at game play as a huge draw for a game, but if it does not look good who wants to play it no matter how good the game play? A nitch group that‚s who. But no fears there. Path Of Neo does look good all across the board on every platform. Of course in my humble opinion it looks better on the Xbox, but this time around there are some graphics on the PS2 that are just down right surprising. When things get busy there are some small portions that the camera changes cause some issues with seeing where you are but for the most part they can be lived with.

Such scenes as the lobby scene when Neo and pal Trinity fight to save Morpheus. All the columns and walls are destructible and blasting away in this level while in focus is a visual treat not to be missed. It‚s all here as tile is blasted into dust and debris all the while bullets blast through the air leaving little contrails. Ah the destructive fun. This game is enough to give new faith in the PS2 because it pulls off stuff that you just don‚t expect from the platform. Way to go game programmers!

Even with some of the teeth gnashing that goes on with the targeting system, The Path Of Neo turns out to be one heck of a fun ride. Other than the Targeting if there was anything that I would have to say What the F****? It would have to be the use of film clips and cut scenes. There is such a miss Mash of use of the scenes they often don‚t really make sense nor set up the next section of game play. Don‚t worry about the story line here; just close your eyes during these scenes unless you just enjoy teaser clips of the films and just play.

The Matrix Path Of Neo. It is the one at long last that captures both the look and feel of the films and brings it to the player all in a neat and often fun package.

Have fun, play games

Edwin Millheim

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