You may remember The Matrix as the metaphysical franchise that brought to life Gilbert Harman’s Brain in a Jar theory.
This theorized that if a human brain was removed and imbibed with the right electrical impulses, it could simulate consciousness. The Matrix went beyond this, suggesting everything we see and know is merely simulated consciousness.
The film received mixed reviews and many audiences found the plot overly complex. But what if I told you, that may be because you don’t have the whole story?
In keeping with the movies existential themes, there were additional parts of the narrative dispersed across other media forms. These were the subplot but were designed as an integral part of the milieu. To coincide with the release of Matrix Reloaded, the Wachowskis also produced The Animatrix and Enter the Matrix.
Take the red pill, won’t you? Join us on our journey inside Enter the Matrix and take a look at what made this game special.
Re-Enter the Matrix
In the film, the audience discovers that there are two planes of existence, “reality” and The Matrix. Enter the Matrix features a narrative that exists somewhere between the two planes.
The cutscenes feature footage shot from the set of Matrix Reloaded. The actors reprise their roles and this is the players’ semblance of reality. You are now outside The Matrix and you will experience over an hour of additional movie footage. With Neo & co. preoccupied with the plot of the movie, Ghost and Naiobe set about on their own adventure within the same chronology.
The story centers around a mysterious package that was left inside The Matrix in the opening sequence on The Animatrix. Still with us? In ‘Final Flight of the Osiris’ Jue drops the package right before the Osiris explodes, killing the crew. Ghost and Niobe must now enter The Matrix -if you see what we did there- to retrieve it.
Players can choose to play as either character and the story adjusts accordingly. Once the two are inside, gameplay begins as they are transformed into block polygon versions of themselves. This meant anything the player controlled was merely a Matrix simulation of the movie character.
Considering you didn’t have control of the cutscenes this must mean that man is the real Matrix? Or our games consoles are The Matrix and we control the simulation that in turn controls everything we do. Like the film plot, it’s probably best not to think about it too hard, just take it from us, it’s meta.
@Kalosdnb Its not a page but maybe.
— The Matrix Online (@MxOGame) January 28, 2016
The plot was way ahead of its time, The Stanley Parable has nothing on this brain twisting experience. This isn’t the only thing that set it aside, gameplay was also ambitious and fun.
It wasn’t revolutionary, we shouldn’t look at it through rose-tinted spectacles, but it was fun. We had already had 5 Tomb Raiders and a Max Payne, both with sequels out that same year. So Shiny Entertainment could have done more to maximize the flow of gameplay.
They did at least manage to translate some of the fun with gameplay centered around bending reality. Slow motion gunfights were a feature throughout, with players being able to see the bullets realtime. This made the player feel just like Neo, as you saunter through gunfire and pick off your targets.
There was also a fair degree of athleticism in the game, this didn’t impact the game much – but was cool to pull off. Players could run up walls, leap fences and perform mid-air combat rolls whilst slowing the passage of time. Allowing players to feel more like a bonafide action hero.
Street Fighter x Matrix
Hand to hand combat was also an option for players who prefer melee take downs. This was still not a common feature in shooters so it was a nice addition. Moves were motion captured from stunt doubles who worked on the movie, so players could throw their body around with satisfying flying kicks and cross chops.
Boss battles were a welcome change for a shooter series too. Instead of firing an endless stream of bullets into an oncoming boss, the battles were fought hand to hand. In a loose Street Fighter style, players would duel using martial arts in a 3D arena environment. This gave a tense edge to the fights and allowed players to interact more with a boss’s personality. Quips were flung towards the player in an intimate fight environment, which made for some tense encounters.
The awesome action integrated into the gameplay and a narrative woven into the movie made for a truly special game. There is still a ton of fun to be had with this meta title, and a whole subplot to the movie you may never have explored.
Like the movie, it received a mixed critical reception but maybe we were just too young as a species to appreciate the themes. It is definitely worth a revisit if nothing else it’s probably the only place you’ll get to control a virtual simulation of Jada Pinkett Smith.