The Matrix Online Preview - The Next Level

Game Profile

Release date:
March 22, 2005
Monolith Software

The Matrix Online

We jack into Monolith's highly anticipated MMORPG.

Preview by (Email)
February 28th 2005

All the missions serve not only to help you in gaining experience and faction approval, but to drive home one simple point. Megacity is huge. Every building you see can be entered and every room within is accessible. If you see a building that looks to be 50 stories tall, I guarantee that you can stop on every floor and explore every room inside. Not only is it very impressive in this day of free roaming, city based titles such as Grand Theft Auto, which flaunt the fact that you can enter a couple of rooms here in there, but the fact that this is on such a massive scale is ridiculous.

Aside from accessing your cell phone to get something done, you are of course free to explore Megacity as you please. This process is made even easier by utilizing your map, a GPS-esque device that not only details your surroundings in full, but also hot spots locations for everything from vendors, to nightclubs to even new contacts to meet. It's really dependant on how you wish to proceed through your surroundings. A bit of exploring never hurt anybody and with the friendly, role-playing centric community, meeting some of your fellow Red Pills at the local nightclub is always a good time.

I know Kung-Fu

No MMORPG is worth it's lick these days without having a compelling, or robust combat engine. While The Matrix Online might not have the latter so much at the moment, it definitely makes up for it in the former. MxO uses what is called the "Interlock Combat System", which is a fancy way of saying that once you engage your enemy, you're locked into battle with them, and only them. Obviously, this does present a challenge in the fact that like most MMO's, you're more than likely to run into multiple enemies at once. Yes, this does become a problem, but not enough to frustrate you out of playing.

The combat itself is executed with the same amount of excitement and flair that The Matrix is known for. Combat is turn based as both avatars select their attacks from their hotbars with a few standard variants, along with special abilities. Dices are rolled, results are tallied and the loser eats a slow motion knuckle sandwich to the face.

Rinse, wash, repeat. What makes the battles so entertaining are the animations being displayed, and the amount of actual attention the fight requires. A few quick punches may start off the battle, but what happens when your opponent pulls a gun on you? Obviously, a fist isn't going to do it, so you may have to go for the grab to disarm them momentarily, or attempt to dodge some bullets while you get yourself back in the game. It's a constant contest of being just one step ahead of your enemy and is quite engaging to say the least. Effects like the classic Matrix bullet-time effects, complete with camera pans and slow downs keeps things looking spicy, as stomps to the face have never looked so painful.

What is The Matrix without ridiculous maneuvers and mind blowing abilities? Nothing, that's what. So thankfully, as stated before, The Matrix Online has perfectly captured the setting and the feel of The Matrix. By the end of the first week I was kicking hapless security guards right in the ol' hot box (Complete with slow motion camera pan), leaping across buildings like Morpheus and dodging bullets like I was the One. How do you get to this point? The Matrix Online uses a standard leveling system, but if anything it serves nothing but to act as a form of prerequisite for skills and a way to bump your statistics. Monolith has taken a very unique approach to gaining skills in MxO by means of data codes.

In order to learn a skill, you must find it's data code, which can be compared to the program discs used in The Matrix movies. You gain data codes in a few different ways, but mainly by acquiring them as loot, or from buying them from other players via trade or the marketplace.

Once you gain these codes, you merely find a hardline (A telephone booth), jack out of the Matrix, into the loading room and plug it into your skill tree. Certain skills can be leveled up and only cost you information, The Matrix's form of currency to do so. Swapping skills in and out is an extremely simple process and can be done at any time. Considering that you have the data codes in possession, you can go from being a gun wielding, acrobatic maniac, to a clothing designer with a knack for creating viruses, all with just a few clicks. Monolith calls this the end of player regret. I call it brilliant.

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