ENTER THE MATRIX for PlayStation 2 and XBox. $80. Rating: NNN
GRAPHICS: Good, but not as sharp as you'd expect in a game about computer geeks.
ADDICTIVENESS: More Trinity, please.
ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: This virtual reality is only big enough for one.
PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: The real question is, what is real?
No matter what you think of Their pop mythology and painful, Star Wars-esque dialogue, you've got to give the creators of the Matrix franchise credit for thinking big. This is not just a film. The second instalment of the Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Reloaded, appeared alongside a series of animated shorts (Animatrix) and a video game (Enter The Matrix). Each part of the package was created as a part of the original unit, not as a cheap spinoff. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Enter The Matrix.
The box hypes up the fact that this game was "directed" by Matrix creators Andy and Larry Wachowski and includes new dialogue by the stars of the film. This shouldn't come as a surprise. Watching The Matrix Reloaded, the plot seems lifted from any number of gunslinging, first-person adventure video games. Our hero has to get to a magic room, but en route he will have to do battle with dozens of baddies intent on killing him. Sound familiar?
Enter The Matrix doesn't let you pretend to be a trench-coat-wearing Neo or PVC-clad Trinity and relive the scenes of the movie, but instead features Niobe and Ghost, two minor characters from the new film who have their own missions to accomplish. They move from setting to setting, battling the police and the occasional Agent with an arsenal of gravity-defying kung-fu kicks. The film's trademark Bullet Time stunt appears, and the scenes are interspersed with lengthy mini-movies featuring the real stars of the film.
Like the Matrix movies themselves, the game looks very stylish, but more time and energy seem to have been spent on the short films between the action. They're the only things that truly connect the action to the real films. The idea of an original script for the game is nice, but speaking as a Matrix fan, it would be more entertaining, if less original, to simply play out the familiar action from the film.
Looks aside, the links between the game and the movie are weaker than the creators imply. Perhaps this is a plus, though; anything that cuts down on Keanu Reeves's stultifying dialogue can only be a good thing.