Enter the Matrix

Developer Shiny Entertainment
Publisher Infogrames
Release Date May 15th, 2003

Cindy Yans

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This article originally appeared in Computer Games Magazine #150

One evening in February, hundreds and hundreds of members of the media and various special interest groups gathered at Hollywood’s Universal Studios for a glimpse of a not-yet-released trailer for the upcoming film The Matrix Reloaded. This particular evening’s events, however, belonged completely to the videogame Enter the Matrix that will release side-by-side with the movie.
Consider this as something of a companion product to the film. Andy and Larry Wachowski, the brothers behind the whole Matrix phenomenon, have created a unique bond between the two. The game and film plots will be somewhat interspersed. “[The Wachowski brothers] wanted to tell the story in multiple mediums,” said Enter the Matrix director Joel Silver. “They really felt that the movie just wasn’t big enough for the story. So the story starts in the movie… and it will continue into the video game.” He stresses that the game audience will not “miss out” on anything if they haven’t seen the film, but that it will have a rather enhanced experience if they do.
Developed by Shiny Entertainment, the game contains over an hour of video footage, with literally thousands of scenes of motion capture performed by cast members Jada Pinkett Smith and Anthony Wong. “I read the game script and it was all this action, flippin’ out the car windows, and I was like,’ how they gonna shoot all this?’” says Smith. “’They gotta shoot [sequels] two and three and this video game script.’” It turned out that her observation was not frivolous. “They worked day in and day out,” says Lead Designer and Shiny President Dave Perry. “And then when we decided that we wanted the quality even higher, they had to redo all the scenes again in Australia just so we could get all of the facial muscles exactly the way we wanted them. The detail level is insane.”
Enter The Matrix offers two different story lines, with playable characters Ghost and Niobe (two of the film’s more incidental roles). The stories do connect, but the gameplay diverges depending on whom you choose to play, which Shiny thinks will add to the replay value. A hands-on play session reveals that the game really is, at its heart, more of a console title—the PlayStation 2 version seems the most “organic”—but the PC controls were the least optimized, making it difficult to assess its actual potential. You will, however, be able to execute a series of different punches and kicks against batches of enemies, as well as utilize a “focus” mechanic, which recreates the films’ bullet time effect. It slows time to allow you to do things like run on the walls, and perform alternate combos. The gameplay is most reminiscent of Max Payne, and in its driving component (when you play as Niobe, you’ll get to drive through a world filled with real traffic and pedestrians) it feels a bit like Grand Theft Auto III.
The combat engine more or less captures the look and feel of the original film’s fighting sequences, even if Shiny has a bit of work to do to clean up the controls. As the evening play-session continued, however, the vodka-saturated attendees rocked to the sounds of Marilyn Manson, and no one even heard the clock strike twelve. Or one. Or…

This article originally appeared in Computer Games Magazine #150