Thursday, 7 April 2011

Gamefreak revisits the Matrix: Path of Neo (Xbox)

In these new "revisits" section of my blog, i'll be looking back at game across all formats, some old, some new, and some old gems that you may have missed. Or indeed hated....but that don't matter, i'll cover them anyway.

The first game i'm revisiting is the Matrix: Path of Neo.

Release by Shiny Entertainment in 2005, it was the second game in the Shiny released series, the first being the lacklustre "Enter the Matrix". It was pretty so-so as a game, which essentially failed as you didn't get to play as Neo....pretty much a big pull in a game really, playing as the main character. However, Shiny began work on this game, which starts at the beginning of the 1st film and follows the various scenes of the movies, with some added bits to it. The new additions to the story that were included in the game essentially filled out some of the bollocks back story that the Wachowski's had to blag their way through when the knew that had to make sequels to the 1st movie.

Most of the missions took on the form of training simulators, to expand your knowledge of gunplay and martial arts, which were ok. Some of the other missions took Neo into the Matrix to free the minds of other "potentials", other people who could be "the One" which, if you followed the canon of the movie I guess were interesting enough. All the levels were strung together with in game cut scenes and clips taken from the movie, which were edited together in such a messy way it's like the dev's just clicked "random" on the computer and put them in as they ended up. Weak. It did have an original ending too, where you had to fight a gigantic version of Agent Smith, written specifically for the game by the Wachowski brothers, as they thought the films ending would be too boring for a game. It was too boring for a fucking film, but hey ho.

Graphically the game punched above it's weight. It wasn't the worst game i've ever seen, some levels looked great, but it was basically just too ambitious for the consoles of the day. Even so, Shiny must be praised for doing what they did with such technical constraints. The jumping was pants, you drifted around the levels like you were a pisshead on roller skates and occasional glitches broke the levels, but there was just something about it.....the combat.

The combat in this game was simply amazing. Gun play was handled in your typical third-person way, lock onto target, shoot, reload etc. Pretty much in the same vein as Max Payne, Tomb Raider yadda yadda. The hand to hand stuff was where the game REALLY excelled. It was essentially mapped to just a few buttons, Y for attack, B for grab, X for dodging and L trigger for focus moves. Combinations of these buttons would see you punch, kick, counter, somersault, sweep, cartwheel, just generally batter the living shit out of anything that moved. Before a level you could choose your upgrades, from adding moves to combos, to ariel throws, weapon strips, and as you started out with just a few basics by the end of the game you were literally the One in the game was epic.

The standout level in the game though, and the reason for me starting a revisit section to my blog, was around halfway through the game. Based on the scene in the movie dubbed "the Burly brawl", it's the scene where Neo, after meeting up with the Oracle, is visited by Agent Smith to have a boring chat about "purpose". Now just one Agent Smith though.....oh no....that would be a waste of a're visited by a couple of hundred of them. The scene in the film was almost like a videogame itself, and so Shiny took this ball and ran with it. The results you can see in the video below. I played this again the other night and had just as much fun playing it over again as I did the first time. Enjoy.

So that's the Matrix: Path of Neo. It had its haters, and on the whole it was a flawed, average game with a few stand out levels, which despite its technical achievements was marred by the power of consoles at the time.

Shiny should be applauded for attempting to do something different, and in my eyes the game should be played, not for the mind-numbingly boring story, or the flaws, but for the combat system which in my baggy-eyes still stands up today.

Let me know what you think. Did you play it? Love it? Hate it?

Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.


  1. He he. Indeed it is. Glad you watched it dude.

  2. Im with you fully on this one Tony. some dodgy parts in the game but to be honest reading your review I couldnt remember all those bad bits because all I could remember were the awesome training parts and like you say the combat. Unfortunately I just could not get past THAT level on the platform and as usual gave up, I may revisit it one day though as I havent seen alot of what you have mentioned.
    Id still give it 7/10

  3. Yeah, some of the training levels were ace. I remember the sword fighting one, where if memory serves me correctly you were up against a Kung-fu master like the one Gordon Liu played in Kill Bill. That one was amazing.

    It's worth a trip back. I'm going to go through the game again and record another one or two levels that impress me.

  4. You're absolutely right about what makes it good - the combat just rocks. I wish I still had my X-Box because they didn't convert it to run on the 360 and I loved this game.

    I really think they missed an opportunity by not making the Lobby level infinite. There's no way I would have got rid of my X-Box if they'd done that - just keep piling on Agent Smiths...

    Try Batman Arkham Asylum's Challenge Rooms if you want a similarly visceral hand-to-hand combat experience.