The Matrix Online Preview - Overview
Get the details on this upcoming massively multiplayer game that will let you explore the world created by the popular motion pictures.
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Massively multiplayer games started out as fantasy-themed games that let you create a character with which you would fight a bunch of skeletons and goblins until you reached the next experience level in a colorful fantasy world. You weren't playing as yourself--you were playing as Galstaff, the sorcerer of blight, and if you played your cards right, you could have gotten your hot little hands on a rusty quarterstaff. Maybe it's ironic that one new massively multiplayer game, The Matrix Online, will instead let you control a person who, in turn, is controlling a virtual-reality character. That's right, in this upcoming game developed by Monolith and copublished by Warner Bros. Interactive and Sega, you'll play as an awakened "blue pill"--a human being who had previously been enslaved by the enigmatic machines.
In The Matrix Online you will play as a human male or female character that will begin his or her career affiliated with Zion, the last human settlement. You'll run through the basics of gameplay through a tutorial area, and then head off to the Matrix itself, which will be represented in the game as the "mega city," a humongous, four-part metropolis. The different regions of the city will include what the developers describe as an "amalgam" of different urban regions, which are the slums, a skyscraper-filled business district, and even an "international" district reminiscent of New York City's Chinatown. Though the different areas in the game may contain locations that are replicas of real-world landmarks, they won't simply be based on specific real-world cities, since the world is, after all, an elaborate illusion generated by the machines that is intended to resemble all the world's big cities of 1999.
The Matrix Online will feature a continuous story arc that develops over time, and which will be chronicled in both The Daily Sentinel, an in-game newspaper that chronicles events in the Matrix, and in the game's mission system. Missions in the game will let you not only go off on adventures in search of rewards for your characters, but they'll also reflect the changing state of the game's story as well as your characters' affiliation. While you'll start off allied with the people of Zion, you may later decide to change your affiliation to work with either the machines or with the Merovingians (the faction that follows the powerful renegade character known only as The Merovingian). This affiliation, and the progress of the story, may actually affect the course of your missions. For instance, later in the game you might be given the wrong information about a routine mission, and you'll find out it was a double cross that you'll have to fight your way out of.
To approach your battles in the best way possible, you may end up changing your characters' configuration and appearance. Unlike other similar games in which you're stuck with a single-character profession (like "wizard" or "sorcerer of blight"), The Matrix Online will instead let you swap out different types of skills that relate to hand-to-hand martial arts combat, firearms, and computer hacking. These skill sets are intended to let you customize your character's abilities to your needs as well as to what your teammates may need in a group adventure. For example, if you're working with a group that already has strong hand-to-hand combat skills, you may want to swap in some gun-slinging skills for yourself to provide ranged support. The developers hope that one of the game's most distinct features will be its hand-to-hand combat, as there will be a huge number of fighting animations that your characters will display while punching, kicking, blocking, and grappling with their enemies.
You'll also be able to outfit your characters in many different types of clothing that not only make your character look distinctive, but can also be secretly hacked to include various invisible programs that provide substantial bonuses to your abilities. You'll even be able to further customize your characters' appearance by buying new clothes, getting different haircuts, and changing your characters' tattoos.
In addition to missions, The Matrix Online will also offer an in-game economy based on the many skills and items that can be bought, sold, and traded with other players. You will also be allowed to enter almost any building in the city. You'll use these buildings as the sites for different missions, and you may find hidden secrets by simply exploring and finding out what there is behind the doors of these various buildings. The Matrix Online has just entered a beta-test state and is scheduled for release later this year.