Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.22.05
Introduction:Atari has returned with the Matrix game we've wanted for a long time! Finally no more side character hijinx's like 2003s, Enter the Matrix. This time you get to be in total control of Mr. Anderson, Neo, The One and it seems more fitting. The Matrix: Path of Neo lets us follows the path line of Matrix trilogy and you get to experience the coolest parts of every movie in Shiny Entertainments Matrix offering, and we couldn't be happier.
The Game: The Matrix: Path of Neo is a game that will appeal to Matrix fans first off, and possibly some curious people who haven't actually seen the movie. It's hard to believe, but like Lucas Star Wars, I know more then one person who hasn't seen either. You are either in to science fiction or your not it seems, and as we all know the gaming marketplace is the perfect spot for a sci-fi entertainment. The Matrix is an important key license and I'm sure Atari is glad to have locked that one up.
The Path of Neo starts you off in the middle of some intense action taken from the attack on the agents building; you know the one will the pillars, metal detectors, bullet-time and a whole heap of guns. From this, you fight a group of security personal until you die. All this with no explanation how to play. Shiny just throws the gamer in and you have to try your best. Depending on how well you do the game lets you pick your difficulty, as you can image, do bad and you get one option, easy and good, medium and hard. This introduction is a unique start to a game, and I rather enjoyed being thrown in without a clue. Very Matrix like. You're not stuck on your first attempt, they aren't that mean! You can replay the level select intro as many times as you want until you get a desired difficulty level, I settled for Medium, because honesty I wasn't too good.
Right of the bat you start following the movie's plot with many of the exact details from the movies, but of course the game takes certain liberties and expands each section. If you never seen the movies, I really don't know how Path of Neo would seem. It's almost a given that every player would know how the game is going to turn out, but playing through the events is still rewarding. The Wachowski brothers had a hand in the product and have giving fans a different conclusion that not too many people have been happy with. I myself just made it to the third movie events, so I can not comment on the ending. This idea of using the movies plot might seem too recycled, but I was more then happy to live out Neo in the Matrix. Path of Neo starts out a little slow then really picks up, I was actually really into the kung-fu training and the way they handed it was excellent and almost as exciting as the real levels, if I can be so bold.
Thankfully, Path of Neo does a good of making you feel like Neo which is more important then anything else. In Enter the Matrix (2003), it never really captured the feeling of the movie right, and I happy to say Path of Neo is a thousand times better. I really think the technology plays a part in how far the can push the imagination of the Matrix, so on a better system like the next gen consoles we could really have something special in the Matrix universe. The hand to hand combat is handled well, but it seems a little too clunky and forced then it should. Neo really has some good combos and the game handles fighting big groups efficiently. Neo can also use weapons, and they stay within the normal realm, nothing too fancy. The good thing how the combat is handled is that you can use either or, or both at the same time. The system effortlessly switches up from shooting, kicking and punching in a seamless like motion. It's great to watch and you really feel like Neo when you take out a group of flunkies like
the Merovingians goons.
The actual "Matrix" like abilities are called "Focus" and they are activated by simply hitting the Left trigger. Focus helps you do all those cool effects like dogging bullets and running on walls, etc. Using focus is essential to progressing in the game and its awesome going into double speed out moving and normal person, then seeing the difference when an agent attacks with the same sense of speed that Neo possesses. Focus can also be upgraded during the game and you will learn new moves, with the ability to pick and choose at times. It really brings another dimension and understanding to the Matrix world, which is interesting. As you slowly progress, just like the movies, Neo gains more power and gets closer to unleashing the full potential of The One.
The Path of Neo has some great moments with action that gets very frantic and crazy. Squaring off against an agent for the first time is exciting, plus a unlimted supply of SWAT police dropping in from a hovering helicopter and you have a set up for some thrilling action. Oh plus, add in a time frame factor of trying to save Morphous before he is killed by Agents. Great gaming moments like this make for a great game, and although it's not really fresh in content, it's still rewarding.
Any problems? Yea, sure. This isn't a perfect world and The Path of Neo is plagued with the most evil virus of them all. Bad camera angles and camera control. They way the default controls are set up makes it really hard to balance fighting multiple enemies at once, exactly what you do all the time in the game. Since the camera controls, targeting controls, and weapon/hand to hand switching is all on the right analog stick, it gets down right confusing and hard to manage. On top of that, the targeting system is rough and they have some issues where you are still stuck targeting a dead dude, and wandering around blind until another enemies comes up. It's a glitch in the system man, those evil agents. I think a little more time developing this all this could be ironed out. It actually feels like this game needed to be released on the next generation consoles to get the proper results.
Graphics & Sound:
The visuals are the biggest area of trouble with The Path of Neo, and you will notice the jaggies immediately when you start into the game. Path of Neo has a touch of the good, bad syndrome and really can look cool while at the same time look horrible. It is a tough call to handle because once you get into the action you forget about the games graphical flaws and just focus on the cool parts. The way they handled the Matrix effects are outstand and the detail in the destructible environments can almost make us forget about those blocky jaggies.The game seems to chug at certain moments as well, but again because time is distorted through the whole game you are not sure if it was meant to be like that or not.
The audio doesn't do much to pull your senses away from the graphics. Although the sound effects are good, along with the orchestra soundtrack, it didn't have anything extra like new sequences besides the ending, and all the dialog comes from a juxtaposed montage of the movies. Overall you could slag the graphics in Path of Neo, but the developers did a great job pushing the imagination and the system. A little more polish and this game would have taken a completely new perspective.
Mojo: The mojo of off the charts in Path of Neo, mainly because I've always thought the movies would make a great game, if done right. Controlling Neo, and taking down human enemies, and agents is a great deal of fun, and it feels awesome and overpowering at times. Then squaring off against Agent Smith is something that is a Matrix fans dream. This is the game, Matrix fans have wanted besides a new adventure with Neo. This game has coolage written all over it and the mojo score reflects the cool factor in playing as The One. All it will take is one hand to handle battle against multiple opponents with focus control and you'll know what I mean. Pretty damn wild. Matrix Mojo Overclocked.
Lowdown:The Matrix: Path of Neo was mainly created for Matrix fans, and not the uber hardcore who will just hate anything different from the pictures. It's great to have a game where you can be Neo in the Matrix world. All the right "Matrix" effects and pivotal points have been captured from the movies, and you should have a blast playing through your favorite parts. Path of Neo is not perfect and the main problem is the camera and the auto targeting system, along with some not so perfect graphics. I know these issues will generate a few haters, but if you can get over these facts, there is a game here to enjoy.
Game: 8, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 9. Final: 8 / 10