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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006

My view: 'Matrix: Path of Neo'

By Jeffrey Davis
Special to The Advertiser

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THE VERDICT: TWO

THE RATINGS

5 Outstanding: Add it to your collection now. A must-have.

4 Great: Buy it or rent it definitely play it.

3 Good: Worth playing despite some flaws.

2 Fair: Unless you're a fan of the license or series, don't bother.

1 Poor: You'd have more fun playing Pong.

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Game: "Matrix: Path of Neo"

Console: PlayStation 2 and Xbox

Developer/publisher: Atari/Shiny

Genre: Action/adventure

Rated: T for teen, for blood, suggestive themes and violence

The premise: Follow Neo as he treads the path to becoming the One. Only with help from you, Trinity and Morpheus can Neo unlock the secret of the Matrix.

Gameplay: You follow Neo through the three movies, and just like in the movies, it's kung-fu and guns galore. The controls are basic: Use the left analog stick for movement and the right analog stick for camera control/lock-on function. You toggle through your inventory using the button pad.

During the game you gain different abilities when you reach "a higher level of consciousness." Your "focus" also increases, allowing you to perform the slow-motion bullet-dodging moves so popular in the three movies.

In later levels you have the option to choose which ability you want to unlock next. This gives "Matrix" a role-playing-game feel but without the experience points. You lead Neo through all three movies to the exciting conclusion.

The good/bad: The gun play's targeting system is extremely unreliable. You will continually find yourself shooting the same enemy even after it's dead. It's very annoying when you're swarmed with live enemies and you're stuck still shooting the dead one. The levels tend to drag on a bit, leading toward boredom.

On the other hand, the fighting system is simple and easy to use. One button is for attacking and another is for blocking. The environments are interactive. Walls, pillars and boxes splinter, break and burst. When boredom sets in during the long levels, you'll often find yourself destroying your surroundings to keep yourself awake.

Tips: Be sure to explore each area fully, because a secret is hidden in each stage. When you are swarmed by enemies, it's easier just to break out the kung fu and not to even bother with the aiming system. Take care to note your surroundings, as the levels often look the same and are very labyrinth-like.

My take: This game feels unfinished. Usually movie games are rushed to coincide with the movie release date, but these movies came out years ago. The game does feel rushed, as there are tweaks that should have been fixed in beta testing like falling through floors, for example. It just fails to meet the expectations one has after seeing all that was accomplished in the three movies. It's worth playing if you are a total fan of the trilogy; otherwise, don't bother.

Jeffrey Davis of Maui is a video-game enthusiast.