The Matrix: Path of Neo PS2 Review

As I began playing The Matrix: Path Of Neo (that will for evermore be called PON for the duration of the review) I could not get that terrible feeling of disappointment out of my mind that I had when I played the now two year old Enter The Matrix for the first time. It was one of the biggest letdowns I had ever experience with a game. It almost single handily ruined what could have been a great video game franchise before it even began. PON was always going to have to do a lot to recover from the disappointing but highly selling (you crazy people!) Enter the Matrix. Thankfully PON does go to great lengths to fix many of the predecessors’ mistakes although it seems that not everything has worked out as Shiny would have liked! Let me explain…
“I got nothing, sir. No sign of Niobe or Ghost.”[/b]

For those that don’t already know PON puts you in the shoes of Neo where you follow the path (hence the games title) he took over the course of the 3 films, but parts of the game may play out slightly different from the film as they have been re-written to “fit the game.” There are also sections in the game that will not have appeared in the films at all as PON tells the story from just Neo’s perspective. Like I said a few paragraphs ago a lot had to be done to right the wrongs that were done in Enter The Matrix and as you know two of those wrongs, namely Niobe and Ghost have thankfully jacked out and left the Kung Fu to Mr. Anderson himself; thanks Shiny!

“I Know Kung Fu”

As Neo you can dish out all manner be beatings over the course of the story. Most of the stuff you saw in the movie is created in the game in some way meaning the game has a brawler like nature to it and you will be doing lots of hand to hand combat. Thankfully there are lots of combos to perform and are rather easily done but still manages to look impressive. Basically all you need to do is stun an opponent, hit a few buttons and something cool will happen. It is very easy to do but it is not “button bashing” as you would expect it to be but it is not very complex either to coin an old phrase it is “just right.” Shooting works similarly to the fighting and uses an auto-target feature that locks in on your closest opponent waiting for you to pelt him with a hail of bullets. You can combine both styles easily to create some nice sequences such as or grabbing an agent out of midair and slamming him to the street just like in the film. One slight downside is that the game starts off very slow and you won’t get to do some of the more interesting stuff till about 2 hours into the game but if you stick with it there is lots of fun to be had.

As you progress in the game you can upgrade your powers which can be bought between each mission, although I don’t remember “the one” having to pay for his skills in the films! The range of skills available to perform is quite impressive with telekinesis being used to move objects around and stop bullets, then there is code vision which is used to view the Matrix in it true form meaning you can reveal enemies that are otherwise hidden and you can also see masked doorways. Of course bullet time is also in the game and it’s a feature which most gamers should now be very familiar with. The slight downside of getting so much power it is that the game can get a bit too easy at times, meaning you can easily become the Cillit Bang to the agent’s limescale as you give out beating after beating to everyone on screen. There are however some challenging levels which evens everything out nicely.

There are also some parts of the game that stray away from fighting and these are without doubt the game’s low points. There are a few stealth sections which kills some of the atmosphere of the game. There is also some puzzle solving in some missions that drag out far too long and kill some of the mood as well. Finally the camera does have a tendency to have a mind of it own and drift off to a funny angle but this only happens while fighting in a tight space. All in all, the main campaign is oodles of fun to take part in especially if you are familiar with the story of the three movies

“Welcome back, we missed you. Like what I’ve done with the place?”

PON is a mixed bag on the graphics front. The game can look great at one moment and distinctly average the next. The main problem is that the core graphics are very basic, none of the characters look that appealing and some of them look downright terrible, but where the game does excel is in the effect department as the game is littered with them. Masses of particle effects are used and achieve great results, debris also files around the screen during fights. While fighting, the characters manage to move well and look realistic thanks to well done animations. The problem is that while you are not engaged in heated battle, the game has a very dead feel to it. While characters are not fighting they feel lifeless and look very lo-res but once you have someone to play fisticuffs with then PON is a treat to the eyes. There is one last problem though as if there is too much action on screen the game can experience some nasty framerate problems. Like I said it is a mixed bag if there was ever one!

The audio portion of PON is also well done, but only Laurence Fishburne decided to lend his vocals to the game; all the other characters are voiced by sound-a-likes and I must say they do a very good job with Keanu Reeves’ impersonator being spot on with all his likenesses. Some of the music has taken a hit in its shift to the virtual format as a good portion of the soundtrack from the film is not in the game. Most of the music contained on the disc are brand new compositions that are similar to the films but sadly at times noticeably different and as a result a letdown. As for the sound effects they are also top notch and I believe most of the gun sounds have been lifted straight from the film. All the impacts sounds have good volume behind them and they really sound like they hurt!

“Good bye, Mr Anderson”

PON is an entertaining game that will please fans of the movies, if you enjoyed the movies you will undoubtedly enjoy playing though some of the scenarios in the game. It has to be said that a much better job could have been done with some aspects of the game and there are far better third person action games out there at the moment but for fans of The Matrix trilogy there is no better game to compliment the films. For anyone out there that does not like the films then this is title not for you, but you should already know that! Something like God Of War or Ninja Gaiden will suit your needs much better. Whoa!

8.1 out of 10