From The Matrix to Resurrections: the video games that gave life to the saga

From The Matrix to Resurrections: the video games that gave life to the saga

From The Matrix to Resurrections

In March 1999, the famous Morpheus put the blue pill and the red pill for the first time in front of tens of millions of spectators: the reflection created on his iconic mirrored lenses raised the curtain on that lair of the White Rabbit which, in the over the years to come, it would become a cornerstone of the cyberpunk undergrowth.

"Welcome to the real world". Thomas Anderson's first rebirth outside the confines of the matrix marked entire generations, outlining the boundaries of a cult capable of giving infinite food for thought to all those who perceived there was "something deeply wrong" in the fabric of reality.

A foundation stone that has grafted the roots of one of the most beloved media franchises of all time, capable of branching out through a historic trilogy to which, recently, Matrix Resurrections has been added, at the same time direct sequel and reboot of the epic of Neo, a film created with the aim of rewriting the rules of the saga in the light of the new vision matured by Lana Wachowski.

An episode four which in fact is a chapter 2.0 and which, at little more than a month after its launch in cinemas around the world, it is about to arrive on-demand on the main streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Sky Primafila, Infinity, YouTube, iTunes and even Microsoft Store, for those who want to they enjoy it directly through the flagship Xbox by replacing pizza and cinema with the comfortable sofa at home, perhaps in the company of friends.

Matrix Resurrections, in addition to overturning the rules of the franchise and adopting a philosophy that pushes on metanarrative, makes the video game an essential element of the synopsis, consolidating once and for all that connection which, voluntarily or not, had built a clear overlap between lovers of the videogame medium and the saga of the matrix.

Watch on YouTube. Among those who saw in the journey of the Chosen one a mimesis of escapism and the acquisition of power offered by the video game, and those who identified themselves in Thomas Anderson imprisoned in a prison without walls or bars, fans have always appreciated the ability of the Matrix to break the wall with the viewer and, above all, to contaminate other media, from comics to the videogame.

And what are the videogames that have tried to translate the great work of the Wachowskis into a real interactive world in which to get lost by crossing the screen? On the occasion of the digital launch of Matrix Resurrections, we will go through the different interpretations of the Matrix saga that video games have made available to us.

Enter The Matrix

Released in 2003, in conjunction with the launch of Matrix: Reloaded, Enter The Matrix was the first video game dedicated to the saga to reach those tens of thousands of fans who have been waiting for an interactive reading of the series for four years now. Developed by Shiny Entertainment and published by Atari, this first attempt to penetrate the video game did not end in the best way, however.

The reason is quickly explained: both critics and audiences were disappointed by the choice of protagonists and of the reference plot. Enter The Matrix, in fact, revolved around the events of Niobe and Ghost, respectively captain and deputy of the ship Logos, historical allies of the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar of Morpheus and main actors of a campaign only collateral to the companies of the Chosen.

Enter The Matrix was the first video game to stage the saga's spectacular fights. The choice to avoid Neo as the main character was not well received, but to attract the ire of the media mainly thought the technical sector of the game, judged extremely superficial and excessively stylized, together with an interpretation of the gameplay that tended to constant repetition in the confines of bare and poorly cared for environments.

Despite this, the tie-in managed to place over four million copies and hide - albeit under a veneer of technical uncertainties - all the magic underlying the action of the film saga . Although devoid of cleanliness, Enter The Matrix returned a feeling difficult to find in his contemporary works, exploiting the focus (i.e. slowed time) and martial arts to create a genuinely fun game architecture.

The minimalist style, although attacked by numerous experts, did not fail to replicate the design behind the series, giving fans a first window into the potential hidden behind the videogame conversion of the saga. We are sure, in fact, that many fans have kept excellent memories related to the adventure of Ghost and Niobe: what other game allowed you to literally crack parts of code to access secret levels?

The Matrix Online

The Matrix Online is a video game that is rarely talked about, and this happens mainly because, together with contemporary titles such as Final Fantasy XI, in its time it was too advanced a work to be fully understood. The second great golden age of MMORPGs, in fact, struggled to consolidate until the arrival of World of Warcraft, a title that ended up engulfing the entirety of the competition thanks to its massive ambition.

And what is there left today of The Matrix Online? Nothing, because the servers have been closed and with them what, for many fans, has represented an irreplaceable piece of history has disappeared. This raises the curtain on the theme of videogame preservation with regard to "live games" and all the works that rest the foundations on a persistent online universe, which sooner or later all seem destined to disappear without a trace.

In The Matrix Online, players assumed the guise of "redpills", ie those humans who, having chosen the red pill and awakened from the typical unawareness of the matrix, had to finally find their place in the world. It goes without saying that the MMO probably represents the perfect genre within which to baste a videogame reinterpretation of the Matrix and above all a continuation of the "story" beyond the strings of code, precisely because the creative context of the genre justifies the presence of numerous actors.

The Matrix Online is perhaps the best idea ever to come out of the world of video games and connected to the series. Specifically, it was possible to choose whether to play the role of a Coder, a Hacker or an Operative, practically the equivalent of the Crafter, the Wizard and the Warrior typical of role-playing games. The combat took place entirely in real time, mixing moments of "freefight" - segments in which to move, shoot and fight freely - and interlock phases, in which players had rounds lasting four seconds to act in CQC and hope to break down the opponent's defenses.

The implementation of the "lore" was also excellent in the context not only of the narrative, but also of the gameplay of The Matrix Online, since each "redpill" was reserved for the choice to join one of the three main factions: the humans of Zion, intent on fighting the machines; the Machines themselves, willing to preserve the Matrix and protect the bluepill, or humans still dormant; finally the "Merovingians", that is the acolytes of the Merovingian, distant from the war and willing to act only for their own interest.

Of all the interpretations of the Matrix in a videogame key, that of The Matrix Online probably embodied the best possible creative vision for the brand, and it is surprising that a successful tie-in, moreover already tested in the context of the live game, has not managed to find space in more recent generations.

Unfortunately, The Matrix Online's parable was destined to last only five years: in 2009 the servers were closed forever, and the legacy of the title survives only through the testimonies on YouTube.

Matrix: The Path of Neo

After the lukewarm reception of Enter The Matrix and the one-dimensional nature of the criticisms, often centered around the absence of the historian Chosen, it was no surprise to discover that The Matrix : The Path of Neo would have been entirely embroidered around the story of Thomas Anderson, bringing for the first time a one-to-one scale transposition of the cinematic experience, again by Shiny Entertainment.

Although, a well to see, the idea was to transform the path of the elect into an action-RPG videogame experience, translating Thomas Anderson's growth path according to the rules of the most classic digital progression systems. Among over 500 different moves, spectacular combos, bullet time action and dozens of opponents, the gameplay formula clearly improved the foundations laid by the first tie-in dedicated to the brand.

The directors of the trilogy had the last word on the sequences to be integrated into the video game, outlining a work with a more celebratory than additive nature; of course, there was some additional mission and the narrative took the license to expand the "lore" built around the redpills, but the substance remained that of making the gamer take on the role of the Chosen, with all the resulting spectacularity.

Path of Neo finally allowed you to take on the role of the chosen one. Unlike Niobe and Ghost, in fact, Neo could count on an incalculable amount of active skills designed exclusively to celebrate pure action combat; if once, when faced with an Agent, the only way forward was to escape or try to throw him off the thirtieth floor of a skyscraper, in The Path of Neo the matter was very different since the protagonist was even able to stop the bullets.

After calling out Thomas Anderson's stage entrance, on the other hand, not even the much-claimed conversion of the original plot was able to convince critics. Perhaps because, as we have recently learned, the best tie-ins are those who build something new from the solid foundations of a great franchise instead of stubbornly following the same footprints that have led to success.

The Matrix Awakens

Halfway between the technical showcase, the video game, the teaser and the metaverse, The Matrix Awakens is an "experience in Unreal Engine 5" developed by Epic Games to push the most recent through the new owner motor of the house. Released in a free version last December 9, the title takes on the connotations of the traditional technical demo to offer a hyper-realistic reconstruction of the cinematic universe of the saga.

The nature of a product intended for showcase has granted The Matrix Awakens to be able to afford technical-graphic ambitions far above the contemporary average, opening a tiny window on what the future of video games will be once Unreal Engine 5 is fully operational, ready to design the interactive experiences of tomorrow.

Of course, this is not a video game in the strict sense: after a splendid introduction that constantly breaks the fourth wall and a crazy heart-pounding chase, the player is unleashed on the streets of one of the many fictional megacities of the series, incapable to take any action except admire the landscape and drive through the busy roads, coming into contact with technologies and hero asset that, perhaps, will become normal in the future.

The Matrix Awakens demo is one of the most impressive technical demos ever seen. The fact is that this little appetizer offered by Epic Games and Warner made aficionados' mouth water, drawing in their minds a very precise image of how the next video game dedicated to the Matrix should be. An open-world title based on the latest advances in technology and capable of transforming the immense universe imagined by the Wachowskis into reality.

And this is the perfect theme to close the analysis: even if Matrix Resurrections takes a a clear departure from the immense construct of "lore" that sprang from the roots of the original trilogy, it has all the potential to bring the world lived through the matrix back to the center of the videogame work.

Perhaps The Matrix Awakens is nothing 'nothing but a sneak peek at the massive open-world that will return Neo and company to the video game medium, perhaps the time is ripe to take back the inspiration behind The Matrix Online and build a "live game" of the future, in any case. we can't wait to find out if and when we will return to fight or even live in the most famous - albeit hypothetical - digital metaverse of all time.

In the meantime, Matrix Resurrections is available on all streaming platforms, and if you want to learn more about one of the most talked about metanarrative works of recent years, just use one of the reference platforms to experience a movie night, and certainly also a discussion night, comfortably at home.

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