Have you ever had a dream, that you were sure was so real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world? Let me tell you about the dream I can't wake from. It's a dream where a Massively Multiplayer RPG, based upon a movie franchise that was crushed under it's own awful conclusive sequel was created, published by a company that has fallen so far from grace that it is laughable and somehow turned out to be something that is not only unique, but an absolutely fantastic experience.
Surprised? Well buckle your seat belt Dorthy, because Kansas is going bye-bye.
Residual Self Image
If there is one element that Monolith has perfected in their work with The Matrix Online (MxO), it is their understanding of The Matrix universe itself. Unlike most MMORPG's, your journey down the rabbit hole does not begin by simply dumping you into the world with every other hapless newbie on the planet, but with yourself outside your own shoes.
As an operator in the real world, you actually search for yourself inside The Matrix using a view screen. Here is where you create your appearance inside The Matrix by way of physical details, clothing and initial statistic information. While the creation of your character is the standard fare, the way it is presented is anything but. Currently in beta form, the customization of your avatar is already quite impressive. While the lack of free reign over your height and weight options keeps it from being as in depth as say, Star Wars Galaxies or Everquest II (Everyone is the same height, while your weight is carved from a few preset choices), it is still leagues beyond current MMORPG leader, World of Warcraft. From the moment you jack into The Matrix for the first time, you're practically guaranteed to not look anything like your newbie brethren. After you've found yourself inside The Matrix, it's time for you to awaken.
Your first adventure inside The Matrix is your meeting with a Zion operative, which from there on begins the snowball of events that carries you through all your favorite scenarios. Choosing which pill to take, a chance meeting with the woman in the red dress (Rest in peace Mouse!) and the infamous loading room. All of which are designed to make you feel right at home within The Matrix. The events, naturally, act as a tutorial in just about every aspect of the basic gameplay. Adding a nice touch to the mix, the entire opening tutorial is voiced by Lachy Hulme. Better known as Sparks from the monstrous 2003 title, "Enter The Matrix". Rest assured, The Matrix Online is no slouch like it's console brother.
It is purpose that defines us
After the falling lines of code shift into perspective and you're fully jacked into The Matrix, it's time to finally begin the real meat of the game. As how most other MMORPG's go, the first thing you should do after you acquaint yourself with your surroundings is to pick up a quest. This is a very simple process to work in MxO, as you simply pull up your cell phone menu and call up a contact. Initially, you only have one contact, a Zion operative named Tyndall. As you dwell deeper and deeper into the system, you will find new contacts, bosses, rivals and all different types of alliances to be formed as you play a gun for hire however you please. Some contacts require but a simple phone call to start a mission, while others place a waypoint on your screen which leads you to the contact in person. Either way, grabbing a mission and driving through the game is an extremely simple and intuitive process that never breaks from it's Matrix atmosphere.
A typical mission in The Matrix Online has you going to a specific location in Megacity, disposing of the baddies inside, perhaps hacking a computer or stealing a valuable piece of data, or even escorting a soon to be awakened human (Or Blue Pill's as we call them) between destinations.