Special: Atari had a couple of killer PS2 and Xbox titles on hand at E3. This gave Chris a chance to preview The Matrix: Path of Neo, Indigo Prophecy and the latest Dragon Ball Z.
The Matrix: Path of Neo (PS2, Xbox)
2003 was a weird year for movie-tie in games and the movies they were based on. Movies like Hulk, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, and The Matrix: Reloaded all were highly anticipated summer blockbusters for the year and all had gotten trashed in some way or another. Either by film medium, by game form, or both. Enter the Matrix in particular was one of the most talked about cases, as various reports indicated this was not a finished product, and that bugs were evident. Shiny Entertainment is not looking to make the same mistake twice, as the upcoming sequel to Atari's previous trip into The Matrix has had nearly two years of development time already. This non-sped product called The Matrix: Path of Neo is rightly labeled as the subtitle suggests. Unlike in Enter the Matrix where the game was shown as an original story following Niobe and Ghost, players this time will focus solely on the character of Neo alone behind his quest throughout the film trilogy and beyond.
What this means exactly is that whatever Neo did within the movie, those same epic moments will be relived in the game as well. This means wherever Neo was and whatever he was doing, you too will do it in the game. The war against the machines in Xion City for instance wasn't a Neo segment, and so that won't be a part of his perspective here. However, that just means all the fun there was to see Neo doing in the movies will be in here just the same. The battle royal against the hundred Smith clones will be done. Popping into agents and turning them into green Jell-O will be a choice too. So will flying. What Atari had playable at E3 in particular was the lobby scene using Neo and Trinity to save Morpheus from the agents upstairs. But first came the part where the entire floor was decimated. That whole scenario is going to be playable here. As Neo, the main objective here is to protect Trinity while also eliminating guards with gunfire, melee grab attacks, and wall running too. The style of graphics portrayed in the game really compliments the movies well. You could break apart pillars by smashing bodies into them, kicking ass all over the place, and watching reflections of the action on the glossy floor. Path to Neo could be the very Matrix game fans wanted all this time. With slick graphics and reenactments of everyone's favorite Neo scenes, it very well could be.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (PS2)
Like Pok?mon, Dragon Ball Z is one of those anime crazes that has a large fan base. A simple cartoon with a large following needs a lot games, means a lot of money for the company that pumps out the games for this overwhelming expanse of Dragon Ballers. That company is Atari, and this year they're actually doing things a little differently. Not differently as in genre change, but as in the direction for which their popular Budokai fighting series will be taken in. As the fourth edition of the Budokai series, Tenkaichi will include more than 60 playable combatants taken from the cartoon series. This will in fact be the largest cast of characters for any Dragon Ball Z game (and I'm guessing any fighting game). Also, instead of centering its storyline on a single aspect of the Dragon Ball Z saga, Tenkaichi will revolve around the entire storyline of the series, retold from point A to point B all from scratch.
Up to two players will be able to participate in matches and relive combat from the show as their favorite stars in a 3D model. All 60+ characters will be able to employ their own distinct powers that are tailored to them from the series. But as for experiencing the basics of these bouts: evading, hovering, stunning, and kicking/punching maneuvers were available for use inside big and destructible environments. From what was seen, battles of the game take place in wide-open 3D cel-shaded anime painted areas, like a mountainous terrain. Rushing around at heightened speeds and knocking the enemy through stone was kind of neat in the colorful anime window that was presented. Personally, I've never been a Dragon Ball Z fan and this fourth Budokai didn't impress me to great lengths. I can say however, to those of you that are followers of the series, that Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi will provide most any character of your choosing and decent looking graphics for your Ball Z enjoyment.
Indigo Prophecy (PS2, Xbox)
Indigo Prophecy wasn't always Indigo Prophecy. Last year it was called Fahrenheit, and was being published under the Vivendi name. But later on in the year, Quantic Dream (the developer) quit the deal they had with Vivendi and went in search of a new company to publish their upcoming crime caper adventure. Under the Atari brand now, it seems as if nothing's changed but the title. A string of murders done in the same fashion from what seems to be a cult of people under a hypnotic spell of some sort, are killing innocents all around New York City. You get to play from the perspective of one of these serial killers named Lucas Kane, whom doesn't seem to understand the reasoning behind why he's committing such heinous crimes. From another side you'll play as two detectives on the trail of Lucas. And this is where the game gets interesting: you'll be playing for yourself while against it as well. For example, in the story Lucas kills a man in a bathroom stall. How well he covers up the evidence will help him escape. But what he doesn't do right for himself will benefit the detectives who are trying to capture him, of whom you also play as.
Time will be of the essence in Indigo Prophecy, as the clock is actually always ticking while you're making your way into the story. In one diner scenario, you'll have a witness waitress available for questioning for so long. After some time she'll leave the scene, and the hour glass will have run its last sand. While you have options available to you at some point, they won't always be there and the world will always keep churning as the crime's clues continue to unravel. Aside from finding information and putting puzzles pieces together (like that the killer ate steak), action-oriented sequences will fall into place by inputting timed analog commands into a corresponding color-coded window. Featuring two circles that heavily resemble the classic electronic Simon game, the idea is to press the analog sticks in the direction where the colors light up, whilst Lucas in this scripted scene evading the police plays itself out. Though they're not bad, the graphics of Indigo Prophecy aren't fantastic. They're gritty but shifted more toward the average side of the scale. Overall however, Indigo Prophecy is indeed an interesting game. Playing from dual roles that will affect one's performance in a different period and vice versa sounds like a unique touch for one appealing adventure title coming up this fall.