|Enter the Matrix|
|Publisher:||Atari, Inc., Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment |
Bandai (Japanese release)
|Platforms:||GameCube, PlayStation 2, Windows, Xbox|
|Media:||2 × Nintendo optical disc,|
1 × DVD,
4 × CD-ROM
Enter the Matrix is the first video game based on The Matrix series of films. It sold one million copies in its first eighteen days of release, 2.5 million over the first six weeks, and eventually 5 million copies.
Enter the Matrix was simultaneously produced with The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions films. It was developed by Shiny Entertainment and published by Atari and WB Interactive for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube game systems, and for the PC. It was published in Japan by Bandai.
First released on 15 May 2003, the same day as The Matrix Reloadeds North American release, Enter the Matrix gives players control of two of the supporting characters in that film, Ghost and Niobe, members of the same group of rebels as Morpheus, Trinity, and Neo. Niobe is the Captain of the Logos, the fastest ship in the rebel fleet. Ghost is the ship's first mate and weapons guru, and is a deep-thinking, philosophical assassin. The game takes place at roughly the same time as the events in The Matrix Reloaded; a character may walk out of a scene in the film, only to walk into a scene in the game.
Players play as either Niobe or Ghost, each of whom have slight variations during their story. Most levels involve controlling players in a third person perspective, using guns and fighting skills to defeat opponents and complete level objectives. At any time, players can activate bullet time which slows down time, giving players the ability to perform actions such as shoot in midair, dodge bullets and perform various maneuvers. Some levels involve one on one martial arts fighting against single opponents. In levels involving vehicles, one driving a car and another piloting the Logos craft, the style of gameplay depends on the selected player, with Niobe maneuvering the vehicles to avoid obstacles whilst Ghost takes control of a gun to fight off incoming enemies. A hacking system allows players to enter codes, allowing them to unlock secrets, weapons and skills.
Enter the Matrix was designed, like The Animatrix, to be an integral part of the Matrix series. Many previous movies have been adapted as games, but in this case, the game expands upon the story told in the films. Enter the Matrix includes two hours of live action 35mm film footage written and directed specifically for the game by the Wachowski brothers (and later included as part of "The Ultimate Matrix Collection" on the "The Matrix Reloaded Revisited" DVD). The martial arts moves and in-engine cutscenes of the game feature actions captured directly from the films' actors and stunt doubles to recreate their unique fighting styles while suspended from wires under the supervision of the series' fight scene choreographer Yuen Wo Ping.
The player learns that Neo is not the only target of Persephone's predilection toward trading kisses for esoteric information; Niobe and Ghost are both put into positions where they must submit to her whims in order to gain critical information that she offers them in return for their favors. Significant also to the continuity of the Matrix universe is the first appearance of actress Mary Alice in the role of the Oracle. (Gloria Foster, the original actress, died of complications related to diabetes early on in the production of both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions). The game includes a film sequence specifically explaining her change of appearance, as a result of an attack on her by the Merovingian, a malevolent character introduced in The Matrix Reloaded, who also appears in the game. Another film sequence reveals that the Merovingian's attack was facilitated by a sacrificial trade with the compassionate program Rama-Kandra. Allowed to occur by the Oracle, the Merovingian acquired the deletion codes for the Oracle's external "shell," and in exchange, he gave Rama-Kandra's daughter Sati her freedom and safety in the Matrix, despite her lack of purpose in the machine world, though the Oracle foreshadows that Sati will play an important role in both the Matrix and the Real. What role Sati will play is yet to be determined in The Matrix Online.
The story begins with Niobe, captain of the Logos, and Ghost, her first mate, retrieving a package left in the Matrix by the crew of the recently destroyed rebel ship Osiris. After being pursued by Agents, Ghost and Niobe escape from the Matrix with the package. The package is a message to the human city Zion, warning them that the machines are tunneling to Zion with an army of Sentinels. Niobe and Ghost are tasked with calling the rest of the ships back to Zion to coordinate a defense. During this operation, Niobe and Ghost provide backup to another group of operatives trying to escape.
With everyone home, the captains of the various ships hold a meeting in the Matrix to decide on how best to defend themselves. During the meeting, Agents attack the building they are in. Niobe and Ghost help the humans escape; when everyone is safe except them, the Keymaker, a program capable of accessing any area in the Matrix, leads them to safety through a door that he created. The Keymaker gives the two a key that they are supposed to give to Neo, the protagonist of the film trilogy. However, the key is stolen by henchmen of the Merovingian, a program created during the early days of the Matrix who now is a crime boss in the Matrix. As Niobe and Ghost pursue them, the character that the player did not choose is captured by more henchmen. Before the player character rescues the one captured, the Merovingian destroys the key that the Keymaker gave them. They then escape from the Matrix.
Niobe later volunteers to go find the Nebuchadnezzar, the ship that is captained by Morpheus and that carries Neo. Upon finding them and helping them escape from the Matrix, they agree to help in Neo's mission against the machines, as depicted in The Matrix Reloaded. Niobe and Ghost's role in the mission is to destroy a power plant. After this mission is completed, the Oracle, a program that often gives the humans advice, requests that the player character come and speak to her. After their conversation, the player is confronted by Smith, a rogue agent that seeks to destroy both the human and machine worlds. The player character barely escapes from the hundreds of Smith copies and the Matrix. Once out, the Logos is attacked by the machines. They defeat the machines by setting off an EMP, which disables their ship in the process. The game ends with the two of them waiting in the Logos to be rescued, leading into The Matrix Revolutions.
Aside from Ghost and Niobe, there are numerous secondary characters in Enter The Matrix.
See main article: Enter the Matrix: Original Soundtrack from the Videogame. A promotional CD release of the soundtrack accompanied the video game, with compositions by Erik Lundborg in the image of Don Davis.
The album jackets for and contain hidden codes for Enter The Matrix (not just the one code given for Infinite Ammo displayed clearly inside the Reloaded jacket). These other codes can be seen almost blending into the pictures from the films.
Despite solid sales after the game's release, it was met with mostly tepid critical reviews. Metacritic reported that the game had an average mark of 62 out of 100. Two critics from Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it "bad" scores; another later admitted that his "average" score for the game was more positive than the game actually deserved. Mark MacDonald's comments were especially scathing:
"In more than 20 years of playing games, I have never seen a console game as obviously unfinished and rushed to market as Enter the Matrix. ... This game is a complete mess, and that's the only thing complete about it."(EGM, August. 2003)
GameSpot listed Enter the Matrix in several of their "Dubious Honors" lists at the end of 2003, including their five most disappointing titles of the year. One common complaint was that players wanted to play as trilogy protagonist Neo rather than secondary characters Ghost and Niobe, an issue Shiny Entertainment addressed with their later Matrix game Path of Neo.
Steven Poole, in his column in Edge, described Enter the Matrix as "Max Payne with celebrity scriptwriters," and said that the films' fluid fight choreography could not be matched by the game's control system, and that the game's centred view, while practical, was not as interesting as the "kinetic montage" of camera angles used in the movies' action scenes. He also expressed other concerns:
"The most worrying new precedent that Enter the Matrix sets, though, with its massively hyped synergy and narrative overlap with Reloaded, is that it seems the film itself has been deliberately made to suffer, to donate some of its lifeblood so that its vampiric brood can feed on it. In Reloaded, Niobe and her crew go to blow up the nuclear power plant, a feat of security bypassing which would presumably require something like a lobby scene squared. Instead, we see nothing until they are already in the control room. Why? Because that's what you get to do in the game instead. The film's sense of rhythm and victory over threat is compromised just so we can bash buttons on our consoles at home. It's as though James Cameron had cut footage out of Aliens so that it could be rendered in blocky 2D graphics in the 1987 Spectrum/C64 tie-in game released by Electric Dreams — which remains, actually, a superior film-to-game conversion.
Positive comments came from IGN, Game Informer, and Nintendo Power, with NP giving it an 82/100 and stating "Its game play suffers from repetition, but this two-disc technomelange has tons of great stuff for "Matrix" fans. IGN's review, while mixed, gave praise to its presentation and sound. They stated that "You can't get much better than having the Wachowski Brothers filming your cutscenes", and "Kudos to the sound team for bringing the movie audio to life in the game. Excellent sound design, and a great score."
Peer Schneider of IGN has also given positive comments, saying that:
"Things could have been much better with a few more months in development. That said, the story elements and the way the Wachowski Brothers tie together the Matrix movies, the Animatrix shorts, and the game is exceptional. Not being able to slip into the black robes of the movie's principal characters is a bummer, but there's no denying that playing through Enter the Matrix will actually increase your appreciation of the Matrix universe as a whole ..."
He also gave praise to the GCN version, specifically:
"A big 'thank you' to Atari and Shiny for making sure that Nintendo's little cube didn't get shafted. The GameCube version actually ships on two disks to accommodate all the video and audio content. DPLII, progressive scan, DIVX compression — it's all used to full effect to make sure the GameCube version is as good as it can be."