Bullet time doesn't counteract the one key flaw that keeps Path of Neo's gameplay from being truly great. For as much wonderful chaos as the gameplay engine is capable of producing, it's also hard to keep track of, even in slow motion. Since there's no hand-to-hand targeting, you're basically punching and kicking in all different directions. In small groups it's OK, but when you're fighting off a gang of similar-looking agents or cops, and because of how easy it is to just launch into elaborate, lengthy combos, it can become intensely difficult to keep track of who you're hitting and where hits are coming from. Not to mention that the camera has an awful habit of going spastic at the most inopportune times, frequently causing you to take more hits than you would if you could actually keep your eyes on the prize. Unfortunately, these problems conspire to give the combat a looser, sloppier feel.
For as harum-scarum as the combat can sometimes be, it looks cool.
Even worse are the movement controls on the PC. If you're using the default keyboard and mouse setup, you'll find the movement sensitivity to be really awkward. Trying to navigate Neo around is a lot less fun than it is with an analog stick, since he'll jerk with each directional button press in an ugly-looking fashion. It's terribly imprecise. Fortunately, if you do have an analog-based control pad, the game does support them. Unfortunately, dual analog support doesn't seem to be available. We tried a couple of dual analog pads and could never get the right stick to map to anything other than camera zoom--not camera movement. You'll ultimately have to map camera movement to buttons, it seems.
It also bears mentioning that when the game tries to stray too far from pure combat sequences, it isn't very good. The lone standout is the decent turret shooting sequence that emulates the big helicopter rescue from the first film. Otherwise, it's just stuff like that half-baked stealth episode at the beginning of the game, as well as random bits of puzzle-solving that require little thought to solve but can be a bit opaque in design. There are even some combat sequences that feel extraneous. For instance, there's a whole three-tiered sequence added to the scene in the Merovingian's house from the second movie that combines both the puzzle-solving and the combat, and it's ultimately the least enjoyable part of the entire game. However, that doesn't mean every original sequence written for the game is not enjoyable--it just means that several of them stand out as unnecessary padding in an effort to make the game a little longer.
With the amount of particle effects, debris, and crazy action going on during Path of Neo's fight sequences, it doesn't come as a major shock that the core graphics don't look very good at all. The character models look especially heinous up close, with seriously low-res-looking faces that appear mutated at times. Fortunately, apart from in-engine cutscenes, you're rarely looking at the models that close, and from the default in-game perspective, everything looks at least decent. The amount of destruction you can cause is really impressive. When you're playing that big lobby shoot-out from the first film, you'll see all the pieces of scenery breaking apart as it's pierced by bullets and bodies. Unfortunately, the more madness onscreen, the worse the frame rate gets. It's not quite the 15-frame-per-second slowdown you'll see in the console versions, but the frame rate is definitely not perfect in the PC version. And this notion is more upsetting by virtue of the fact that this game looks like a really cheap console port. Everything is blurry, muddy, and unpleasant looking. Cranking up the resolution or rendering effects doesn't seem to do much to counteract it, either. It's not often that we'll say a console version of a game looks better than the PC version, but in the case of Path of Neo, it's absolutely true.
Matrix fans might enjoy what Path of Neo offers--just don't take any of it too seriously.
The audio fares quite a bit better. Although Laurence Fishburne is the only main actor to return and voice new dialogue for the game, the soundalikes that Shiny picked up to play Neo, Smith, Trinity, and the rest of the bunch are all more than competent. The actor who plays Neo, in particular, really nails Keanu Reeves' befuddled surfer intonations, and the actor who plays Smith gets that whole snarling indignation thing down pat. Of course, all the film footage has the dialogue from the original actors, so it can be a touch off-putting to hear one voice for Neo and then hear a different voice for him moments later. Little of the original film's music seems to have made it into this game, which is a shame since the first two films in particular had amazing soundtracks (both score and licensed). But what's here is good, if a bit underwhelming for what previous Matrix efforts have offered. The sound effects are done very well. Guns sound just like they did in the movies, as do the sounds of bullets hitting people and the environment. Although the sound can become cacophonous during particularly intense battles, it's not necessarily bad, because it just adds to the intensity of it all.
The Matrix: Path of Neo is a good game on consoles, but not on the PC. Were the keyboard controls more precise, the graphics not so blatantly unrefined, and the gamepad support better equipped, the PC version of Path of Neo certainly could have been on par with its Xbox and PlayStation 2 counterparts. But as it is, it's an inferior port that is best skipped over in favor of the other versions. If you absolutely have to play this on the PC, however, just make sure you've got a good gamepad, and don't expect much in the way of visual prowess.
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