Hippo Manchester
December 8, 2005

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Matrix: Path of the Neo

XBOX/PS2/PC

Atari

B-

If it weren’t for the bad red-pill taste left by 2003’s Enter the Matrix game (as well as the awkwardly unsatisfying Matrix:Revolutions) Path of the Neo would be great. Unfortunately, the Matrix franchise comes with a lot of baggage. (And, yes, the irony of a Matrix video game still remains.)

PotN puts you where gamers have wanted to be since the first film came out, in Keanu Reeves’ shoes. As you loosely follow the plot of the trilogy, Neo chop-sockys his way through the digital forces enslaving humanity with an array of brawler maneuvers. The fighting of multiple opponents is well-executed with a multi-directional targeting system and by taking advantage of simple combos that allow you to link an attack on one baddie to another. The flow of combat is fun and varied, even if you’re just smashing the A button. You are gracefully flipping off walls, bowling thugs over with one another or tumbling among your enemies, who frankly are outclassed by Neo’s sheer bad assitude. 

As you progress, new Neo abilities, like flight and bullet dodging come into play, moving up the line from “Whoa” to “I Know Kung Fu” to “There is no spoon” And yes, you do get to fight a hojillion Agent Smiths — on more than one occasion actually. The set-piece fights are some of the best moments in the game. Unfortunately, they often involve not only brawling but also protecting allies who distinctly are not The One vis-a-vis their ability to remain un-killed when facing an army of rogue agents.

Points for a clever tutorial level, a cleverly designed M.C. Escher-physics maze and for upping the ante on the final Agent Smith fight. Minuses for mucking about with elements of the plot that worked, for having me run down 13 flights of office building steps only to try and get back to the roof and for recycling movie footage endlessly. We get it, Lawrence Fishburne speaks ominously, Carrie-Ann Moss is pretty and Keanu Reeves should go back to the movie Point Break (where the heck is that game?!?).

  — Glenn Given