The Matrix Online - PC - Review
After a long, somewhat rocky development and a major developer shift (the game, which was published by Sega was originally on deck to be a Ubisoft title), Monolith’s Matrix MMORPG, Matrix Online, is finally available to the public. The game gives players the opportunity to live out their Matrix fantasies by having them jack into the world of the Matrix as a “Red pill”, or someone who has been awakened and has had their eyes opened to the real world and seen the artificiality of the Matrix. While the Matrix theme fits quite practically into the Massively Multiplayer realm very snugly, the game does have a few issues that may prevent it from being the end all be all online game. However, if you are a big Matrix fan with a lot of patience for MMO’s, then the Matrix may be worth a look.
The story in Matrix Online takes place directly after the final film, Matrix Revolutions. The ongoing war between the humans and the machines has hit a bit of a stalemate, with Neo sacrificing himself in order to save the whole of mankind. Although both sides have agreed to a truce, there are still factions (like the Merovingian and the Exiles) within the Matrix vying for control and power. This is where your recently awakened character comes into play; it is up to you to pick a side in this cold war and assist your faction in the power struggle.
You begin Matrix Online as you do in many MMORPGs, by configuring your character. You start by selecting their personality profile from a list, which includes some character types like Fanatic Self Improver, Suspicious Cynic or New Age Hippy. Each of these character types has a positive and negative effect on two of your five innate attributes: Perception, Focus, Reason, Belief, and Vitality. For example, being a Fanatic Self Improver will raise your Vitality by three points, but will also lower your Belief three points. While these do not completely decide what direction you have to go with your character, they do provide a foundation to what discipline your character will be most adept.
Next, you must choose your avatar’s Residual Self Image, or basically what they look like in the Matrix. You have several different ways to edit your character’s look, from sex and body type to hair color and clothing to tattoos. Once done, then you are ready to take on the game’s tutorial and jack into the Matrix.
Finding missions is a simple and fairly streamlined process, as you can either use your cell phone to take missions or find Exiles and others within the Matrix and run their errands. The missions don’t really have a lot of variety, as they are mostly gofer missions that require you to run from one waypoint to another and occasionally take somebody out, and at least at first don’t require the assistance of other players. In fact, most players shouldn’t have a problem gaining up through their first ten levels alone.
As you level up, your character will begin to be able to develop their skills and abilities and solidify a certain character class. There are several different classes to choose from, like Operative, Hacker, Patcher, Coder and so on, but if you take away the flashy Matrix-style, then these are pretty basic classes that should immediately be familiar to MMORPG fans (Warrior, Mage, Healer and Summoner, respectively). The upgrade system is very open-ended, however, allowing you to customize your character however you see fit without having to adhere to a certain style all the way through.
Close combat in Matrix Online is turn-based and real-time, and has a roll of the dice factor similar to the one used recently in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You select from a roster of moves, with moves like light and heavy punches and grabs as well as special moves like headbutts and cheap shots that drain a little bit of your inner strength. As you perform each move, a both you and your opponent choose a random number and the one with the highest number scores the hit. Ranged combat (with guns) works fairly similarly, with your shots either hitting or missing your opponent depending on your proficiency with weapons. There is also a way for bullet-time to come into play during combat, but this is very random and unpredictable and can’t be controlled by the player.
Matrix Online takes the familiar MMORPG trappings and gives it a Matrix flair that keeps faithful to the overall storyline and mythos surrounding the franchise, but it does fall prey to some apparent problems. The current game is very buggy, as it is quite easy to get stuck inside of objects or walls and lose a mission simply because the world had some clipping issues. Another huge problem is the game’s requirements. Graphically, the game looks good, but certainly isn’t the prettiest MMO on the market. However, unless your computer is state of the art with oodles of RAM, then you will experience some pretty debilitating lag and slowdown unless you turn the game’s settings way down.
The sound is pretty impressive, however, as the music features some cuts from the films and the punching sounds themselves have the same wet sounding smack as those in the movies. There is also some voice work from actors from the films, as well.
Matrix Online has a few issues that prevent it from being great, such as redundant missions, crippling bugs and high system demands. However, if you can get past these problems and love the Matrix (even the sequels), then you should definitely consider Matrix Online.
Review Scoring Details for Matrix Online
Matrix Online puts on a good front and keeps faithful to the franchise, but you’ll still find most of the standard MMORPG trappings here. Upgrading your character is a very open-ended process, allowing you to customize them however you see fit. Unfortunately, the mission structure is a bit simplistic and the game still has some nasty bugs that take away a lot of the joy.
The game has a pretty good look to it, but requires an extremely high-end PC in order to get all of the bells and whistles to run at an acceptable framerate.
The sounds in the game are quite good, with excerpts from the original score and voice acting from the film’s actors.
Matrix Online is a cool continuation of the film’s storyline and retains the feel of the franchise quite well. Unfortunately, most of what is here gameplay-wise has already been done before.
Teamwork elements are a bit on the lax side in Matrix Online, as most of the missions can be completed alone and having buddies, while a fun endeavor is often not necessary. The Player vs. Player elements are also minimal; as you need to have an advanced character with access to “the Archives” to even take other players on.
Matrix Online does a fine job of keeping with the mythos from the Matrix storyline, and gives players the opportunity to jack in with player’s from all over the world. Unfortunately, the game has many frustrating bugs at this point, and may frustrate gamers new to the MMORPG genre. Perhaps with some more patches and mission updates down the road, Matrix Online could live up to its potential.