Matrix: Path of Neo  (Sony PlayStation 2, 2005) Reviews
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Matrix: Path of Neo (Sony PlayStation 2, 2005)

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Time to put the Matrix saga to bed, as Path of Neo is a flop.

Nov 30, 2005 (Updated Jan 12, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Voice acting is not bad, fair amount of unlockable features, decent amount of moves.

Cons:Terrible frame rate, rubbish cutscenes, poor targeting system, unresponsive controls, easy and repetitive.

The Bottom Line: Let's all give the Matrix a rest now as this game is really the final nail in the coffin to an all show, no go money making scheme.


Ok I am pretty sure this game requires no introduction. A follow up to the original Enter The Matrix, this game has been in development by Shiny for quite some time now. I will be totally honest and say that I have never played Enter the Matrix to a great extent because I am pretty disinterested in playing as Niobe or some other obscure character in the Matrix Universe, I wanted to play as Neo, the man you saw in the film, the personification of cool pretty much.

I am a great fan of Matrix the films, not a total Matrix buff like some people but more of an appreciator of stylish action films (though the Matrix plot was rather prententious). So to say I was looking forward to this game is a bit of an understatement. If the game could capture the essence or the feeling that you are indeed playing as The One then in my opinion it would have ended up being a superb game and a rather fitting end to the Matrix to make up for the disappointment of the last 2 films. Hmmm…how wrong I was.

Now I am not going to hold back with this review, in my opinion, these are my true thoughts on the judgmental areas of the game.

Presentation

From the off, the rather poor, pixilated scrolling of the Matrix code was a dead giveaway of the type of game this was going to be. The offering of Morpheous red pill and blue pill that greets you at the beginning is a nice bit of authenticity but just pure pointless as choosing the blue pill just sends you back to the title screen. The cutscenes are even worse. Why do they insist on showing cutscenes from the film at the beginning and throughout, which have absolutely no bearing to where you are in the game. Great nostalgia value but if you have never watched a Matrix film (admittedly unlikely), you will be completed baffled and probably slightly disappointed at a complication of cutscenes from the film that totally spoils and gives everything away that a play-though seems rather pointless in the extreme.

Although Shiny have obviously aim this towards the Matrix faithful, I know a few people who are not in the Matrix and this game on the basis of such massive spoilers so early on in the game would do little to change their mind.

Also at various points in the game, they have a cutscene where they show the film interpretation and then the game’s exact same take on it…er WHY???….seems like some cheap ploy to fill the game. And quite frankly the cutscenes are rubbish, graphics in these scenes are absolutely awful and film direction is all over the place. There are also not enough new cutscenes or filler scenes to make the game balanced and plausible as a whole. It’s like watching the cut version of Robocop is one way to describe it.

Graphics

In a nutshell, complete garbage is the only word to describe this area of the game.

I have read about the disturbing framerate reported on Gamespot and IGN but nothing could have prepared me for this. The introduction of the abysmal lobby scene which gauges the difficulty of the game depending on your performance is just downright terrible and gives a nasty impression right from the off. This game literally crawls with the frame rate constantly dipping below 30 fps.

I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw this game in motion. So many questions in my mind, was my game bugged? Has the game crashed? Do I have a finished version of the game? Is this someone sick idea of a joke? Is this a demo? Have I got a slowdown cheat turn on? No apparently not according to Shiny who have succeeded in turning the action pleasing Matrix films into a graphically inducing nightmare. The only befitting description is that this game is reminiscent of a Playstation 1 game and I think that is an insult to the PS1 to be honest.

Further into the game, the graphics get even worse and the game just seems to stop moving altogether due to the increasing attention and complexity in the background detail.

The backgrounds are destructible in the game but this only serves to enhance the rather painfully obvious slowdown. I don't even recall a scene in the game where it seems to run smoothly as it as if my PS2 has just given up trying to process and keep track of the number of enemies on screen. One example, the fight against the agent smith is memorable for all the wrong reason. Shiny wanted to obviously keep this exciting scene from the 2nd film but had given no thought to how it could look respectable on screen. Its should be one of the most fun scenes in the game but it ends up being one of the worse with the animation on the smith's just stilted and plain right embarrassing.

In fact even with no enemies on screen, the game still seems to jerk along rather unconvincingly.

We are entering almost 7 years of PS2 territory and yet this game is reminiscent of a first generation PS1 game.

The collision detection in this game is seriously off as well. Explain to me how I can kick someone nowhere near Neo and yet when I have a pole in my hand, it proves next to impossible to succinctly hit an enemy standing immediately next to me.

To top it all off, the best moves in the game can only be performed in bullet time mode resulting in hours of snail-pace action which although fun at first quickly turns into repetition city. I mean the character models are nice and faithful and in still shots this game looks great. Shame how when it’s running, it looks like a flick-book in s-l-o-w motion.

Audio

Again, where is the production value in this game? Why has none of the official music made it into this game? And why in every action game are we forced to put up with stereotyped generic techno rubbish that does little to induce emotion or energy from the gamer. Why do we have to put up with glaring inconsistencies? The voice acting do an ok job of impersonating the real actors; Neo is not too bad and obviously Lawrence Fishburne is spot as Morpheus being the actor to bother to use his real voice in the game. But when merged with real cut scenes from the film, they stick out like a sore thumb and it soon becomes a confusing implemented mess.

Parts of the game are a real joke, I really did think there was something wrong with my version of the game as on more then one occasion, the game seemingly froze, the sounds became distorted and the music stopped altogether. Its as if the game seemingly couldn’t handle the action on screen. The weapons sound quite realistic but the sounds of crushing blows are faint and drowned out by all the confusion on screen.

Controls

The shoot button is awkwardly assigned to the shoulder button on the PS2 controller so target people and shooting people is harder then it should be and the R3 button is sluggish unresponsive in switching to different targets. The auto target system is badly implemented and always seems to target people who are already dead, which is just plain silly and always leaves you open to attack. Neo “The One” himself is ridiculously slow to move so manually dodging bullets is harder then it should be.

There is a wealth of moves available to you and credit to the game in that most of the moves seen in the film are available to you but the control battle system never seems comfortable. There are some automated animations when you perform suitable moves that mimic the 3rd film such as when Neo does a flurry of punches against agent Smith but these get real boring to watch after a while. Most of the moves to be honest are really gimmickry and chances are you won’t really use them when a simple punch kick combo normally suffices. In the heat of the action, this game just turns into button bashing which is not good.

Playability

Path of Neo is one such game where the further you go, the worse it gets. Personally I found some of the training missions quite enjoyable, the Japanese inspired "Kill- Bill" type missions are quite fun to play as are the rampages shootouts in Chinatown which again are obviously inspired by John Woo's "Boiling Point". Another genuinely nice touch is the fight against Serpah in front of a huge cinema screen showing clips of the same fight in the film but these really are so far and between as they are laced with boring, badly paced sub-standard missions.

The fight against Morpheus is so anti-climatic, the battle against the Smith’s is rubbish, the escape from the Merovingian's maze is frustrating and the rescue missions just seem really badly thought out. One example is the rescue of captain Lock in a warehouse as due to the chaotic action on screen, you could either breeze through the mission on your first go or you or your allies health bar could develop a mind of it’s own and consequently all bullets seem to auto-home in on you mean you die before the mission has even begun.

The missions overall seem badly thought out, some lasting 10 minutes, others lasting hours. Your allies on screen never seem really fully under the control of the computer and you always find yourself waiting for your ally to hurry up to push the button or take down an enemy.

I know this game is called Path of Neo, but it would have been really nice to play Morpheus or Trinity from time to time as they are seriously under used in this game. In the few scenes they are in, they normally add a nice injection into game and how great would it have been to play as Morpheus or Trinity in the amazing highway scene from Matrix Reloaded though Shiny obviously thought we were asking too much.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you are going to be playing all the best parts from all three films as the action is sorely focused on the first two films. Matrix Revolutions is told in it’s entirely by a 5 minute plus cutscene from the film, which is beyond laziness on Shiny’s part. I mean all you get involved with is the end fight with agent Smith in the rain, which by this point, you’ll probably be itching to get it over and done with.

The much fabled new ending is really just an intervention cutscene from the Wachowski brothers represented though old spectrum type sprites from the 70’s explaining why there needs to be a “must all end all last boss fight scene” which in reality is just a face off against a huge agent Smith which needless to say is incredibly easy to beat.

In fact the ending to the game is so bland and unspectacular, it really does make the original ending to the film seem rather quite good.

Replayability

You could complete this game in around 5 to 6 hours if your really motoring but chances are like a few people I know, that’s if you could be bothered as the graphics are really off-putting that playing the game seems like a chore rather then anything else.

I don’t think anyone would really play this game once you completed it. There are some nice extras to unravel and some of the cheats seem rather cool to unlock but seriously you would be hard pushed to play this game over again.

I rather do keep asking myself “IS THIS GAME ACTUALLY FINISHED?” This game should have had at least another six months devotion to fully optimize the game on so many areas or even better; Shiny should have concentrated on a conversion for the XBOX 360.

I am sure some Matrix fans will undoubtedly enjoy playing this but surely the most purest diehard Matrix fan would really buy this game as Path Of Neo has rental written all over it.

In closing

The graphics are easily the biggest flaw in this game, the purest indication that this game has been seriously rushed in time for an Xmas release. Believe what your friends tell you, the graphics are really that bad. Funny thing is though, even if the graphics were unbelievably good, I probably wouldn’t really enjoy playing this game as much as I would like. It’s hard to pinpoint, as an overall package, everything about the game is disappointing, from production values, to the alternative ending, this game seriously feels cheap and does little to induce any kind of prolonged excitement.

Ultimately this game fails miserably to convey the impression you are “The One”. I hate to say Shiny hasn’t made an effort but it much more easier to say that Shiny released this game to make a quick buck. My XBOX compatriots have said this game’s frame rate is no better on their system, which kinda says it all really. My gut feeling is that Shiny should have concentrate solidly on one platform to give it all the attention it deserves.

I am baffled at the high-ish scores this game has been receiving; this for me is probably the worse next-generation game I have ever played. This game is possibly the laziest product use of the Matrix name ever and has seriously left bad taste in my mouth. If you really are a diehard Matrix fan then you will play it regardless but for me suddenly Enter The Matrix is looking more and more appealing.


Recommend this product? No

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