Matrix: The Awakening, the proven Unreal Engine 5 tech demo presented at The Game Awards

Matrix: The Awakening, the proven Unreal Engine 5 tech demo presented at The Game Awards


Matrix: The Awakening is the sensational tech demo created by Epic Games to promote the incredible capabilities of Unreal Engine 5. Launched in conjunction with The Game Awards 2021, this exciting interactive experience is only available on PS5, the version we tested, and Xbox Series X | S.

The demo is basically divided into three parts: an introduction presented by Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss with elements partly live action and partly digital, a strongly scripted chase sequence, but with exciting action implications and finally an exploratory phase in which we will be able to walk around the city in a completely free way .

Here are our impressions after trying the demo in Unreal Enigne 5 of Matrix: The Awakening.

Enter the Matrix

Matrix: The Awakening, Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves are transported in Matrix Appeared during The Game Awards 2021 as presenters, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss accompany us in the introductory phase of Matrix: The Awakening, telling what the Matrix is ​​and leading us virtualment and on the set of the first film of the saga, which had the undoubted merit of bringing special effects never seen before to the screen, as well as inventing the concept of bullet time, which is still widely used today in the videogame field.

The actors then talk about how technology is approaching that kind of visual realism, as they walk in an empty environment and are surrounded by avatars that mimic their movements, but who have a different face. Until they find themselves projected into a virtual city and behind them comes a skidding car, engaged in a frantic chase with the police. Who is behind the wheel? The two of them, as Neo and Trinity.

The chase

Matrix: The Awakening, a chase sequence Without doubt the most convincing and spectacular phase of the tech demo, the chase brings together some fanservice, with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss suddenly finding themselves twenty years younger and joking about it, as well as a hefty dose of fast-paced action. It also introduces the character that we will have the task of controlling during this sequence, a girl ready to fight the system.

Neo flies away, leaving the new entry the passenger seat just as the Agents begin to replace the cops at the driving steering wheels and other vehicles. Trinity suggests to the newbie to take the gun and shoot the tires, and she doesn't let her repeat it, opening fire and giving life to the first of a series of frightening accidents.

Matrix: The Awakening, our character shoot the helicopter with a machine gun Thus begins the interactive part of the demo, in which we have to stop the cars that chase us and that they have agents on board. The mechanics are extremely simple, the aim is constrained and it is therefore only possible to switch from one target to another, firing by pressing the right trigger and possibly waiting for the character to reload the weapon every time the magazine empties. >
A helicopter bursts into the scene and things get more complicated, which makes it necessary to use a machine gun with which to eliminate the pursuers more quickly, who nevertheless continue to multiply. But when the Airborne Agents crash into the columns of an underpass, a single targeted shot at the tanks, placed as the car performs a spectacular bullet time drift, closes the case with a devastating explosion that collapses the road.

Explore the city

Matrix: The Awakening, the explorable virtual city After completing the chase, Matrix: The Awakening shows some interactive sequences that illustrate the technologies available to Unreal Engine 5, allowing us to activate them and deactivate them to understand exactly what their contribution is with respect to the images that scroll on the screen, strictly in motion.

From Mass AI, which regulates traffic and pedestrians, to World Partition, which manages the streaming of assets in a context open world; from the well-known Lumen technology, which deals with global illumination and reflections, to the Rule Processor, which arranges the objects within the scenario; from the Niagara particle system to Nanite, with its virtualized geometries; from Chaos technology, which renders physical and destruction on the screen, to Temporal Super Resolution, which performs high-quality upscaling to return superior output; finally passing through MetaSounds and MetaHuman, which manage procedural audio and polygonal models.

Matrix: The Awakening, our character walks in the virtual city After the roundup, we return to take on the role of the new character of Matrix: The Awakening for a walk in the city, this time completely free and unscripted. Obviously the visual rendering of this phase of the tech demo is inevitably less impressive than the chase, in particular as regards the representation of people and their animations, but in terms of roads, buildings and vehicles the quality level is of the all new.

It is possible to walk, run or become estranged, activating a sort of drone that can fly freely over the city, reaching any height and accelerating one's pace to create highly spectacular forays. It is during these sequences that the interior of many buildings is noticed, with rooms probably generated by a procedural system, but equally impressive for the degree of general care and attention to detail.

Matrix: The Awakening, a ride aboard one of the many cars available Strolling you also realize how sophisticated the effects in use are, in particular the reflections of the ray traced lights on the windows and the puddles. Then, if you want, you can get into any parked car and drive through the streets, perhaps trying to respect the rules or indiscriminately bumping into other vehicles, which however pushes the graphics engine a little to the limit on PlayStation 5 and puts in evidence of the drops in frame rate compared to the target of 30 fps.

It's not over: by pausing the experience it is possible to access some adjustments in real time of the lighting system and of the elements arranged in the inside the city, as well as the typical commands of a photo mode, to be exploited if necessary to take some pictures with our character intent on being a tourist in the digital world of the Matrix.

Matrix: The Awakening, the demo numbers

The tech demo of Matrix: The Awakening boasts truly amazing numbers, which Epic Games has duly declared to give an idea of ​​the power of Unreal Engine 5.

The City measures 4.138 x 4.968 K m, slightly larger than downtown Los Angeles. The surface of the city is equal to 15.79 square kilometers. The perimeter of the city is 14,519 km long. There are 260 km of roads. There are 512 km of sidewalks. There are 1,248 intersections. There are 45,073 cars parked, of which 38,146 can be driven and damaged. There are 17,000 vehicles that simulate traffic and can be damaged. There are 7,000 buildings. There are 27,848 lights on the roadside alone. There are 12,422 manholes. Nearly 10 million unique and duplicate assets have been created for the city. The whole world is illuminated only by the sun, the sky and the reflective materials on the polygonal models. No light sources have been inserted for the tens of thousands of street lights. In night mode, almost all the light comes from the reflections on the glass of the buildings. There are 35,000 pedestrians simulated with MetaHuman technology. The average polygon count? There are 7,000 buildings made up of thousands of assets, each of which can be made up of millions of polygons, so we are talking about the several billion polygons needed to create just the buildings in the city.


Matrix: The Awakening, the Agents attack the car in which Trinity and our character are traveling If the goal of Epic Games was to show what the next- gen and what the technologies available to Unreal Engine 5 actually do, there is no doubt: the tech demo of Matrix: The Awakening is a revelatory experience. The chase sequences bring together such a mass of polygons and effects that they can easily overcome anything seen previously on consoles, but it is clear that they succeed only by virtue of their scripted nature.

When in fact we move on to free exploration, however impressive (there are in fact moments in which those landscapes are confused with real images), we return decidedly with our feet on the ground, the polygonal models of the characters do not make you cry for a miracle and fatigue of the demo to maintain 30 fps, especially in the most eventful situations, eloquently testifies that we are in a situation that is a bit at the limit for the hardware used. Moreover, reconstruction techniques are active, which means that the native resolution of the experience is probably much lower than the perceived one.

In short, an action game proper, set in a detailed and convincing city like the one represented in The Matrix: The Awakening, it will hardly be seen in this generation. However, Epic Games wanted to indicate a hypothetical point of arrival, demonstrating that it is possible to manage this type of graphics on PS5 and Xbox Series X | S, and that the most ambitious productions that make use of Unreal Engine 5 will be able to somehow approach this. result. When and how much is all to be seen.

Matrix: Awakening stands as an enlightening experience, which offers a spectacular representation of the capabilities of Unreal Engine 5 and offers a glimpse into the future. Seeing sequences of this genre in motion on the new generation consoles is often puzzling, although not all pieces of the puzzle boast the same extraordinary quality and some of them tend to interrupt the suggestion. After all, it's still the Matrix: small glitches can't be missing.


The chase phase is scary An eloquent show of strength for UE5 A few more points for fans of DOUBT Matrix The hardware is pushed to the limit and you notice it We will hardly see games with this visual quality in the short term The characters are not as sophisticated as the scenario Did you notice errors?

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