Enter the Matrix

FABIO 4/18/2004 

FABIO arrives from the past to give us a warning...

Your buddy, Sparks. A doughy John Turturro with a phallic complex.
I know why you're here. I know what you've been doing. I know why you hardly sleep. Why you live alone in your parent's basement and why night after night you sleep at your computer. You're looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn't really looking for him; I was looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.

How bad is Enter the Matrix?

The answer is out there. It's looking for you. And it will find you, if you want it to.

A man named Nixon promised to show me the truth.

Nixon: You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees in previews, because he is expecting the game to be good. Do you believe in invisible rails, FABIO?


Nixon: Why not?

FABIO: Because I don’t like the idea that I'm not in control of the gameplay.

Nixon: Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain. But you've felt it. You've felt it ever since the press release. That there's something wrong with the game. You don’t know what but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?

FABIO: Enter the Matrix

Nixon: Enter The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you go to the post office. Or when you turn on your Playstation. You can feel it when you go to Babbages. When you go to the checkout. When you pay its sales tax. It is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

FABIO: What truth?

Nixon: That you are a tool, FABIO. Like everyone else, you were sold into bondage. Fooled into a prison that you cannot return or sell or enjoy. A prison....for your mind.

FABIO: *pukes*

"Greeting Sir, allow me to shake your h-*OOMPH*"
With that in mind, I set out to my PO Box to retrieve the package. Due to car troubles, I arrived five minutes after closing right when they were locking up. Rather than wait until they opened first thing in the morning, I did what anyone in my situation would: storm in guns blazing and mow down the hundreds of armed security guards employed by your typical post office. The massive building's automated defenses were impressive, but after a few strategic button pushes, electricity was restored to the elevators and I was on my way. Exactly one hour and five precincts worth of dead cops later, I finally walked out with my well-earned parcel, postage $2.50.

Think that was an embarrassing bit of fan-fiction on my part? Well color me a plagiarist, because replace "I" with "Ghost/Niobe" and any sense of excitement that little adventure may entail with a complete lack thereof, and you have an exact re-creation of the entire first level of Enter the Matrix. I'm totally serious, the very first task in the game revolves around checking your mail and Ghost/Niobe's complete lack of patience for the U.S. Postal Service's regular business hours. Let's hope the next level doesn't involve trying to cash your paycheck at the bank on a Saturday.

Level 2: I have to make a bunch of prank calls from airport payphones? Well, I guess that's an improvement.

If this were Maxim I'd make the obvious gastro intestinal joke, but since this is a high brow site, I'll just say that this game sucks.
Before I go on, let me just tell you that I picked Ghost (the bearded Asian dude, as opposed to Will Smith's wife) as my character, so I wouldn't have to stare at Niobe's ugly-ass hair plugs for the entire game. Here's a tip: when your virtual computer fantasy land character, who can take on any sort of appearance with the stroke of a keyboard, is considerably less attractive than you in the chronically filthy real world, it's time to hire a goddamn fashion consultant. So from now on I'll call the player character "Ghost."

Back to the exhilarating prank calls. After retrieving the package, you learn that inside are the recon photos showing the machines digging down into Zion (if you're a big enough fanboy to have watched Final Flight of the Osiris, it's the package that the bikini-clad asian chick dropped into the mailbox before dropping dead oops I mean *SPOILER!!!*). Niobe gets on the radio to warn Zion of the threat and the commander tells you to recall the fleet back to the city by going back inside the matrix and leaving coded prank phone calls on various answering machines. Let's stop right there and take a closer look at this sequence. Don't worry if you don't see it right away, it took me a few minutes too.

1. The Zion commander wants the fleet, that's scattered around the subways and sewers, recalled.

2. The Zion commander is talking to Niobe via direct transmission.

3. Niobe is currently on her ship, which is currently in the same subways and sewers.

4. The Matrix is dangerous; every trip inside leaves a ship and its crew vulnerable.

5. The Zion commander orders you into the Matrix, to tell all the ship captains to get back to Zion, just like he's telling her VIA DIRECT TRANSMISSION.



Alright so maybe the problem isn't that hard to spot, but something sure is rotten in the state of Zion. Since this game is supposed to take place in the year 2200+ A.D, I'm assuming that Twelve Monkeys has already been shown on network television, and anyone who's seen that movie knows that trying to save the world by leaving messages on answering machines DOES NOT WORK, even for Bruce Willis. Either the commander caught Niobe and Morpheus having hot plug sex and wants that cheating bitch dead, or Zion's Commander in Chief affirmative action program is doing a number on entry standards.

Here is me standing under an air duct I could get to by jumping up real high, just like the movie! Then there I am jumping the max height in this game, two feet.
After the exciting phone call mission, you learn that another Zion crew is in the airport and one of their number has been captured by police. You then embark on an hour long trek through endless miles of airport terminals that dwarf O'Hare international (considering that plus post offices with miles of underground catacombs, just how frigging big is this city?) to rescue Captain Sauron's crewmember. Speaking of Twelve Monkeys, this is the same Captain Sauron whose entire crew is going to be killed by a sentinel bomb in Matrix: Reloaded, which this game is supposed to run parallel to. I felt like I was risking my life to save Kenny from South Park. I know he's going to die, everyone who's seen the movie knows he's going to die, and there's nothing you or Bruce Willis can do to stop it, so what's the point? I guess it beats checking your mail again.

So after two straight hours of pointless and stupid missions, the developers reward you with a sewer level. Yay. The meeting of all the ship captains gets broken up by a SWAT team raid (Where's Neo during all this? Oh right, he flew away. Keanu's not the brightest Christ-Figure) and you have to help them all escape by spending TWO HOURS slogging through miles of underground wastewater pipes and boiler rooms to locate multiple exit phones. Okay, who was the genius who decided to hold the super secret rebel meeting miles away from the nearest exit phone? I'd be holding the damn thing smack in the middle of a telemarketer convention, but I'm also the one who thinks slaughtering postal workers and acting out Jerky Boys skits isn't the best way to wage war, so what do I know?

Thanks to the sewer level though, I got to fully appreciate the coolness of playing Ghost over Niobe. At one point, Ghost cannot proceed down a tunnel because it's too dark. You must backtrack your way through another SWAT ambush to retrieve a flashlight dropped earlier. Now ordinarily you could circumvent this problem by simply TAKING OFF YOUR SUNGLASSES, but that's why you're not as sexy as Ghost. Ghost knows life is a petty thing to risk for the sake of image. That skank Niobe can't even keep her hair straight, but Ghost would take a bullet for fashion, bitch. Not since one Indiana Jones braved a crushed hand to retrieve his fedora has an action hero been so diehard accessorized.

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