E for Effort: Hacking and coughing

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I don’t care who you are, I’m pretty sure you thought The Matrix was cool at one point or another. This isn’t including the sequels which I won’t speak more of, but the original movie, where the survival of all mankind rested on the shoulders of one of the members of most excellent duo, Bill and Ted. It was a great concept. This mundane world of ours was just a giant network of humans locked into a supercomputer that fed our supreme robotic overlords, and humans were fixin’ to take it back. It kicked the ass of Johnny Mnemonic.

A great idea and what seems to be a wonderful movie that can have a game continuation, right? Right? Unfortunately, Enter the Matrix had some fun concepts, but overall it was absolutely dreadful to play. The storyline sort of held water, but the resounding comment when people saw the game was, “Oh…I don’t get to play as Neo?” Granted, the two playable characters were cool and could kick some ass, but after seeing The Matrix, who wouldn’t want to dodge bullets, dive into Agents, and survive a barrage of bullets to the chest? I realize this could be classified under “Bad movie-to-game cash grabbers,” but given a chance, the game had some good ideas, just poor execution. 

To lead off, the game seemed to constantly play like the disc was scratched. Bad sound loops, skips in animation and complete halting of cutscenes. It took me half an hour to play through some scenes simply because the game would get stuck half way though Niobe and Ghost discussing something that was supposed to be important. I’m not sure what drove my patience back when I played this game, because picking it back up drove me absolutely bananas.

Then there’s the issue of combat. You had a button to go into Focus, or “Matrix mode,” that made everything slow motion and easier to dodge, allowing you to break out techniques that defied physics, including wall running. There seemed to be a 50/50 chance you’d successfully pull a maneuver off while using Focus, then another 50/50 chance that you’d actually hit your target, unless you were fighting an Agent, then you’d have a better chance at winning the lottery than hitting them. On-the-fly slow-mo sounded superb when you hear about it, but as far as EtM was concerned, it was painful to watch as your super rad Ghost or Niobe got the tar beat out of them because the hitbox and animation failed to sync correctly. If you were doing anything out of Focus mode, just imagine playing Soul Calibur with only one hand. Your effectiveness as a badass drops 90% as you attempt to decide which will kill you: The shooting dudes as you melee, or the melee dudes as you shoot. Your abilities weren’t quite 360-degree fighting, as your back attack was a wimpy kick, while everything in front of you could be murdered quite efficiently.

Level design was somewhat decent, most things you could break and destroy, but the game had the potential to be completely free roaming, dodging agents, ganking helicopters, and “unintentionally” wreaking havoc across the city. If it had taken advantage of the massive city, one might be able to forget the crummy fighting and just be able to run away.

The most intriguing aspect of the game by far was the ability to hack into the Matrix. I believe this was the one thing the game somewhat got right. Basically, you worked a terminal and figured out an in-depth puzzle to unlock special features, ammo, guns, and even a hidden fight with Trinity within the Matrix’s coding. If you’ve ever played a “hacking” game on the internet, like Solve The Puzzle, it’s similar, only DOS prompt based. Despite the actual game, if you liked puzzles, this portion turned out to be really fun. It was a simple idea, but pretty well executed.

Despite the clunky physics, unintentional game slowdown, lack of Neo and sloppy polish job, I have to give this game credit. Cinematic slowdown seems to be rampant nowadays, God of War being a prime example, and 360-degree fighting is down to a science (large weapon + spinning man= SCIENCE), but Enter the Matrix tried some new ideas out, mashed them up and fed them as a horse pill suppository to anyone willing to try it out.

The Matrix may have run its course, but the ideas the games tried have not.

This promoted blog was written for our April Monthly Musing assignment, “E For Effort.” You too could get promoted if you write something about games you hate but respect over on the Community Blogs.

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