We recently had a chance to sit down with Shiny Entertainment's Dave Perry for a sneak peek at the studio's next game based on The Matrix motion pictures. The Matrix: Path of Neo will be a third-person action game that contains pretty much all the events from all three motion pictures, plus content from The Animatrix animated movies. Perry describes the game as essentially a kind of "director's cut" version of the movies that gamers will actually play through, but from the perspective of the movies' hero, Neo (rather than from the perspectives of Niobe and Ghost, like in Shiny's previous game, Enter the Matrix).
The new game will even feature an all-new ending to The Matrix saga, since the ending of the third motion picture didn't seem to lend itself well to a video game conclusion. Surprisingly, these changes and more were approved by the Wachowskis themselves, who have both signed on to play active roles in the game's writing and development (and both of whom will even make brief cameo appearances in the game). You can also expect to see the return of all the actors (or their likenesses, anyway) from the motion pictures, including Keanu Reeves as Neo, Lawrence Fishburne as Morpheus, Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, and others. The game will include cinematic interludes that will include footage from the motion pictures, as well as motion-picture footage that didn't quite make it in to the movies, such as a duel that Neo fights in a movie theater.
The game apparently begins at the very start of the first motion picture, during the dream that Neo has shortly before receiving the fateful computer message that starts him on his journey. Though we were able to see only bits and pieces of the game, it will definitely include just about all the memorable scenes from the motion pictures, including the lobby shoot-out from the first movie and the battle in the city park from the second movie.
Over the course of the game, you'll follow Neo's development as he not only acquires his knowledge of martial arts, but as he also gains his other seemingly superhuman powers, which let him manipulate the computer-generated world of the Matrix. These include the ability to dodge bullets, view the world with "code vision" (which causes the surface of Neo's surroundings to be stripped away, thus revealing the streaming green digits they're composed of), and fly through the air. And, yes, he'll even be able to stop bullets in midair before they reach him. Neo will apparently be accompanied by Trinity at several points in the game, who will act as a computer-controlled companion that will fight by his side. In the meantime, Neo will not only be able to grab guns, just as he did in the lobby shoot-out in the first motion picture, but he'll also be able to deliver several hard-hitting martial arts combination attacks. Additionally, you'll be able to use the controller's analog stick to switch his attacks between different targets while on the fly.
Perry was also quick to point out that although the new game is being powered by the same technology used for Enter the Matrix, the engine has been enhanced considerably. Stating that "there's still a lot of life in the PS2," Perry showed off several examples of the Shiny team squeezing some impressive effects out of current-generation-console hardware. Not only were we shown several highly detailed environments adorned with fog, dynamic lighting, and light bloom (environments that are being developed with the help of The Matrix production teams), but we also watched a re-creation of the city park fight scene from The Matrix Reloaded. For those who missed the motion picture, this particular fight scene pitted Keanu Reeves' Neo against hundreds of carbon copies of actor Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith character. As we saw for ourselves, the Shiny team has somehow managed to cram about 1,500 Agent Smith characters onscreen at once for this scene. The new engine also accounts for special effects like real-time distortion. As a result, you'll see it used for both slow-motion bullet trails and the wake that Neo leaves after he takes off from the ground to fly. It even allows for destructible environments, a crucial feature for the lobby shoot-out scene, which, as we saw, includes cement pillars that can be chewed to bits by gunfire. The Matrix: Path of Neo seems like a great improvement over Enter the Matrix, and it will be released this winter for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.