The Matrix: Path of Neo Review
The Matrix: The Path of Neo is somewhat of an apology from the folks that brought you the film trilogy and related games. It’s the game that should have been released along with Reloaded and Revolutions instead of Enter the Matrix, since The Path of Neo actually parallels the films. It lets you play as Neo instead of putting you in the role of a minor character taking part in events in the war with the machines too insignificant to make it into the movies. Unfortunately it is a half-hearted apology as the cool aspects of the game are hampered by issues that detract from the gameplay, and as a result will hurt your overall enjoyment of the game. Sorry Matrix fans, the disappointment continues…
There’s really no need to go into the background story here. I assume that everyone reading this has seen The Matrix at least once, and if you haven’t then you need to see it before playing the game as it assumes that you are very familiar with the film trilogy. You’re Neo, from the moment he receives a mysterious message on his computer in The Matrix until the conclusion of the trilogy in Revolutions. The game takes a bit of a different tack than the movie as it opens with a fight in an office building lobby. Enemies will come out of the elevators in small groups and you’re left on your own to fend them off. This is the game’s way of determining your skill level, and it will suggest a difficulty level for you based on your performance. It also serves as an introduction to the game’s control and camera problems, but more on that later. It’s a novel way of setting the difficulty level, but a confusing experience as you really have no idea what is going on until you are eventually killed.
Once the game gets started, you’ll find yourself trapped in Neo’s cube at work with Agent Smith and his cronies on the hunt for you. This leads to a long stealth level in which you must make your way out of the building without being caught by the Agents. Now you’ll all remember in the movie that Neo panicked when instructed to climb out on the building’s ledge, but in the game he is able to summon his courage and make his way out of the window. This is the first of many variations on the movies’ storylines, so Matrix purists will need to accept the fact the game takes some creative license with the Neo story. Personally I’m fine with it, except for the fact that the whole opening stealth mission is so tedious I kept hoping the game would let Neo be arrested at any moment. The biggest problem is the game’s camera which constantly forced me to blindly bump into walls while looking for doors through which to make my escape from Agents hot on my heels. It doesn’t help matters that the game’s controls are pretty stiff and half the time I’d even miss the doors that I could see, running myself into one doorframe after another. The last bit of pain comes from the security guards that pursue you throughout the building. You have yet to experience the truth behind the Matrix and your attack skills are limited to a single push attack which can knock guards on their backsides for a moment. The clunky controls and spotty collision detection result in a lot of misdirected pushes, and you’ll have to watch Neo go through his long pushing sequence as he pushes nothing but air before you can give it another try.
Once you get Neo the heck out of Dodge, it’s on to some very lengthy training sequences that eventually lead to the famous dojo scene with Morpheus. These training levels seem to drag on forever and feel like they’re there more to pad out the game than they are to teach you its mechanics.