Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.

Transcript:

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day!

The Matrix is a film franchise that brings up a lot of emotions for most people. Some remember how the first movie was a revelation to them, changing the way they thought about the world. Some go straight to how disappointed they were by the sequels. Some feel defensive as they extol the virtues of the sequels, underappreciated as they were. Good, bad, or otherwise, The Matrix brings out a lot of feels so today, let’s talk about the first video game based on the Matrix films. Today’s game is Enter the Matrix, developed by Shiny Entertainment and released on PC, Gamecube, Xbox, and Playstation 2 in 2003.

Regardless of quality, it’s impossible to deny that the studio had high hopes for Enter the Matrix. It was released alongside The Matrix Reloaded and actually contains an hour of additional footage directed by The Wachowskis themselves, the co-directors of The Matrix films. Not only that, the footage was filmed specifically for this game. The plot is also canon to the film franchise and tells a parallel storyline to the movies. Players play as Ghost and Niobe, characters played in both the game and movies by Anthony Wong and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The story begins with Ghost and Niobe finding a message warning of an incoming Agent invasion to the human settlement of Zion. The two must race back to Zion to warn the others of what is coming.

Players can choose to play as either Ghost or Niobe in the game, which functions as a third-person shooter with an emphasis on acrobatics during combat. Characters can run along walls, shoot while diving through the air, etc. Bullet time also lets them slow down the time around them, similar to the effects shown in the movies, which give them even greater capabilities when fighting enemies. Some levels also feature vehicle segments, allowing players to speed away from Agent pursuers.  

Much like the sequel films though, Enter the Matrix didn’t quite live up to players’ expectations. The game was a critical flop, with many stating that the same mechanics used had just been done better in Max Payne only two years earlier. The game felt rushed and the mechanics were more ambitious than the developers were able to pull off at the time. Still, despite the poor reviews, there was an obvious hunger for Matrix video games as Enter the Matrix sold over 5 million copies throughout its life. Even after reviews were known, people kept buying the game because the storyline was well written and the cutscenes had undeniable talent. Fans were willing to overlook the gameplay flaws to experience more of the Wachowskis’ story. Shiny Entertainment wouldn’t give up on the franchise either, with The Matrix: Path of Neo coming only two years later. But that’s a game for another time.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.