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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.