Seeing all the buzz for The Matrix Resurrections this week has got me feeling all sorts of emotions. The original film holds a special place in my heart. Not only was it the first mature film I saw outside of Disney cartoons and the occasional superhero flick, but it also opened my mind to what cinema could achieve. It's since been one of my favourite films of all time, and while the sequels didn't quite capture that same magic, they were still bursting with expertly crafted action scenes. Out of everything, the one thing that will always reside in my heart is the video games that launched on the original Xbox - both of which I'm convinced are masterpieces.
I was shocked to discover when writing about Enter the Matrix and The Matrix: Path of Neo that both games were met with a mixed response. Looking at each title on Metacritic, Enter The Matrix holds a rating of 65, whilst The Matrix: Path of Neo sits at a slightly higher 73. Neither game is attached to a hugely terrible score, but growing up I always thought they were considered some of the best movie tie-in titles around. My friends and I used to binge both titles repeatedly, and while we weren't the greatest at it back then, the gameplay never ceased to engage us.
Surely my nostalgia for these games isn't blinded that much, is it? We've all had our blind spots, but I couldn't be wrong about TWO separate titles? Having dusted off my old console and popping in the discs again this week, I can confirm I'm not wrong. The action, atmosphere and even the graphics hold up today and nobody can tell me otherwise. Obviously, I'm joking. The enjoyment of a game is subjective, but in my own heart, I truly believe each of these titles is a fantastic action game. Of course, they've aged a bit over the years and aren't quite as polished as you possibly remember, but taking that away, I've had an absolute blast revisit each of these games and bathing in the waves of nostalgia - especially Enter the Matrix.
While it's the one of the two that has a lower consensus, being the avid Matrix fan I am, it gave me everything I wanted and more. Over an hour worth of live-action footage was shot for the game, incorporating the game's protagonists - Ghost and Niobe. Both were introduced in the Matrix Reloaded and I instantly wanted to learn more about both characters. Instead of having to read book after book to get all the lore, I could put myself in their shoes and play out their stories.
It was also my introduction to bullet time in video games. I know, I know, games such as Max Payne did it first, but at the time it was my first interaction with the mechanic and absolutely blew my mind. Witnessing my bullets traverse in slow motion towards my enemies was neverendingly satisfying. Even involving myself in hand-to-hand combat and utilising the concept was something I slowly became addicted to. As my love for the series has grown over the years, Enter the Matrix has become a particular favourite I love revisiting.
But then there's The Matrix: Path of Neo, a perfect way to relive the entire trilogy in the shoes of Neo. It was unfortunately released at the time when the Xbox 360 was making its way into people's homes, and as a result, was brushed under the rug. Picked by The Wachowskis themselves, the game was a string of action sequences from the trilogy, allowing players to experience life as The One and feel the ungodly power he was able to throw down in the films.
It all builds to the final conclusion, where you battle Agent Smith once and for all, and it feels absolutely epic to showcase all the skills you've learned over the course of the game. Mixing in CGI scenes, clips from the movie and some set pieces that could never have made their way to the film, it was a monumental moment after all those hours of blistering my fingers through button mashing. Even today, it still feels like a cinematic treat, while also embracing the silliness of the series. I mean, it ends with Queen's classic hit We Are The Champions blasting as the survivors of Zion celebrate their victory. Amazing.
Maybe after all this time, I am blinded by nostalgia, but after rewatching The Matrix Resurrections trailer more times than I like to admit, I don't care. I love them both a ridiculous amount and will defend them until the end of time. They're unashamedly fun and know exactly what they want to be. In an era that was swimming in movie tie-ins, Enter the Matrix and Path of Neo are diamonds in the rough. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to spend the weekend playing through these masterpieces while also rewatching the trailer over and over.
Now can we make them backwards compatible on Xbox? Thanks!
Are you a fan of The Matrix games on the original Xbox? Let us know in the comments below.