The Matrix: Path of Neo
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2
Publisher
Atari
Developer
Shiny Entertainment
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Nice presentation of the movies
• Good melee combat
• Awesome sound

The Bad

• What happened to some of the graphics?
• Stu.. Stuttt.. Stuttering Framerate
• What happened with the gun gameplay?

 
Grade
B+

Path of Neo is the next console game based on the popular Matrix franchise. A lot of people were quite disappointed in Enter The Matrix. That game had an interesting premise but didn't come out quite well, and lets face itů. Everyone wanted to be Neo and not some side characters barely mentioned in the movies. So Shiny and Atari have come out with another game based on The Matrix and this time it's Neo all the way. Question is, did they make a good game or is it just another bland movie made title?

The game starts off with you essentially picking the red or blue pill. Take the blue pill and the game ends and it's a neat little addition there, pointless, but nice that they gave you the option if you wanted to choose the other pill. There are other little parts that you can change scenes that happened in the movie but overall it doesn't affect the plotline. After picking the red pill you get some footage from the movie that's been re-cut for the game and a mix of various scenes (more of these play throughout the game). After this you are put in the lobby scene from the game but it's more of a dream like sequence. Here the game tests you to see how good you are at the combat in the game and depending on how well you do it lets you choose what difficulty you would like and gives you a glimpse at future moves that you'll have at your disposal later. From this very moment and maybe even sooner if your eye is keen to noticing slowdown. You will notice it. This game has it and it's quite severe at times. I'm not sure why there is so much slow down but it is there. The graphics for PON are sometimes great and at other times just seem rather sloppy. At times, you'll find texture tears and rips. Really makes me wonder what was going on half the time they were making this title. Other than this, annoyances do get better.

Throughout the game you will take the role of Neo and play through most of the key moments in The Matrix trilogy. Starting from The Matrix and ending with Revolution, the game does a good job of letting you play through key moments of the films while also adding to the story with a few scenes that play out that were not in the movie but they could have been. Consider the game like a director's cut of the film in a way and considering the brothers had a hand in the game you might as well. Instead of just seeing the scene where Neo says he "knows kung fu" you get to experience what he went through to learn the kung fu.

The basic controls for fighting are used via the Y button. This is your attack and block button. Its kind of weird to have one button for both but it surprisingly works. The B button is used for grabs and killing blows. A is for jumping and double jumping. X is your evade button. The left trigger serves as your focus (Bullet Time) button and R is for firing you gun. Clicking in the right stick takes out your guns and then you automatically will auto aim at the nearest target, period. If you don't want to aim at items or people simply holster yours guns with the right stick click again. Overall the controls are not that hard to master. The melee comes off really well but the gunfights takes some getting used to. It's very chaotic at times on the screen and trying to right click the control stick during all these can prove cumbersome. Overall, the combo set is easy to use and the game provides on screen reminders of certain combos in specific situations. All these are done to perform some very awesome attacks that had me saying "WHOA", just like Neo.

The basic game play in PON is all about the combat. You'll be fighting a lot in the game. You'll take on SWAT, Street thugs, and of course agents. You're usually trying to proceed through the levels and move along the storyline of the films. Sometimes you will be protecting someone or escorting someone somewhere or just killing agent after agent. This is a testament to their combo system as it really does a good job of being large and keeping the game from growing stale. Add the fact that as you get further in the game your focus meter increases and your able to acquire updated and better moves. There is some platforming involved but thankfully not much as the basic jumping animation is rather crude and not great to look at, nor does it function well. Jumping over obstacles can be a pain.

Now what pulls this package together is the sound. The soundtrack is mostly original composed for the game. While this may put some people off, I found the soundtrack to be well suited to the game and game play. They mostly comprise of techno type music but its usually fast paced and well fitted. The sounds effects of the kicks and the punches really add to the combat as well. When your character enters focus mode and right hooks them in the face in slow motion you just really get a satisfying grin on your face when you hear the roaring thud accompanying it. I did notice that if you die and continue from the last checkpoint its almost as if the game has to catch up and at first the sound effect will not register for a good 15 seconds or so. This seems to be the case only when continuing the game from dying and it is only temporary. The voice acting in the game is pretty well done and even though it's not the official actors voicing the characters they provided some good sound alikes.

So would I say this game is leaps and bounds above Enter The Matrix? Yes and no. This has better melee then ETM for sure but the gunplay is not as good. I don't think that was their focus for the game. I find myself using melee most the time anyways. Gunplay is still easily usable. The graphics seem to be improved at times over ETM but there is some glitches and tearing on the models. The frame rate also seems to falter quite a bit. Its never been really unplayable and I tended to not notice it as much as I played more of the game, now whether that's due to getting used to it or the fact that half the time the game is running in slow mo anyways due to the nature of the game who knows?

Overall for fans of The Matrix universe I'd suggest renting this or picking the title up. It's definitely what I would consider more of a beat-em-up kind of game and seeing what parts of the movies you get to play out is always a incentive for advancing further in the game. Overall the game does a lot right and some wrong. The game just needed a little more time for polish I believe. If you can just look past these faults then your bond to enjoy the best Matrix game out there today and of course you get to be Neo and come on now, everyone wants to be "The One".

- - Justin Celani

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