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Enter The Matrix

What is The Matrix? For a start, it’s not just a film; it’s a universe. When Larry and Andy Wachowski first scripted the original movie back in the 1990s, they already had plans not only for two more films, but for comics, books, web sites and, of course, videogames. The Matrix was one of the best films ever, with awesome special effects and a brilliant pseudo philosophical stylish sci-fi vision that unfolded before our eyes. How could a game possibly do this masterpiece justice?

So Enter The Matrix is not your usual movie tie-in then. It has always been part of the grand plan. The Wachowski brothers have written the script, the real actors have provided motion capture and amazingly, an hour of exclusive movie footage will link playable sections of the game.

Shiny Entertainment has been working on Enter The Matrix for 3 years now, and members of the development team have been resident on the film sets of the two upcoming movies. The result is a videogame that will be entirely convincing to students of the Matrix universe, sharing characters, locations and a release date – 15 May – with The Matrix: Reloaded, and featuring a plot that runs parallel, links, weaves and intersects with the movie.

Now let me introduce Niobe. You won’t have seen her in the first film, but you will do in the second one. She’s an ace hovercraft pilot and driver, and pretty handy with a pair of pistols and the odd kung-fu as well. You can play as Niobe or her partner, Ghost, who’s a weapons expert. Each character has a different style of play, and Shiny recon that each one will provide 20 hours of gameplay. Both characters will be available at the start, but you won’t be able to swap between them once you’ve started.

You’ll have control of over 4,000 martial arts moves, a huge arsenal of real-life and fantasy weapons as well as the ability to temporarily slow down time. The main part of the gameplay is combining gunplay and acrobatics to replicate the stylish fights seen in The Matrix. There’s going to be no stealth here, boys and girls, that’s not the Matrix way. The Matrix way is to jump up a wall and summersault off of the ceiling while blasting one guy to pieces, then land behind the next enemy and finish him off with a sweeping kick to the back of the neck.

The bulk of combat requires you to engage multiple enemies, and an ingenious control system allows you to seamlessly switch between shooting and high-kicking. This is also where ‘bullet time’ comes into play, which has been in every game since Max Payne. In Enter The Matrix, it’s called Focus. There’s a bar which will fill up, and when it is full, tap a button a time will slow down, allowing you to leap huge gaps, run up walls, cartwheel across the ceiling, dodge bullets and perform an array of breathtaking kung-fu moves. This is what The Matrix is all about.

As in the movie, Agents will appear, and the best course of action will be to run while you have the chance. They’ll be able to dodge bullets and block almost all of your moves and will relentlessly pursue you. However, like in the film, you will eventually be able to fight them, like Neo does in The Matrix. This is where a small RPG element comes into play, as your character will gradually get better at doing certain things and learn new moves through the game.

Apart form the on-foot elements, there’s also a chance to drive a car down a motorway, like in the second movie, and pilot a hovercraft through the core of the Earth. There’s also a ‘hacking mode’ which will be like YaBasic or DOS, in which you’ll be able to type in commands and see what comes out. You’ll be able to unlock things in the main game in hacking mode, but that’s all we know about it so far.

Shiny know what it’s dealing with here. The Matrix brand has huge mass appeal. Enter The Matrix needs to please everybody, and by creating an instantly appealing action game with added gameplay depth and a hacking mode, Shiny seems to have succeeded without compromising the essential mystique of the movies.

By May, Matrix fever will have reached its peak and everything we’ve seen indicates that Reloaded and Revolutions will easily live up to the hype and Enter The Matrix will complement the must-see movies of 2003. Prepare to believe the unbelievable.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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