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The Matrix: Path of Neo

Although clearly not the best of titles thanks to being rushed out to coincide with Reloaded, we felt Shiny's previous Matrix offering, Enter the Matrix, was a decent and entertaining effort that got an unfair pasting in certain circles.

With more time to work on this title because there's no movie release to tie in with, Shiny is hoping Path of Neo will be a more polished affair, "The Matrix game that fans always wanted" is how Atari's PR chap is putting it.

As the title suggests, Path of Neo puts you in Keanu's leather trousers and takes you on a ride through all of his major scenes across the trilogy.

Wisely, seeing as Reloaded and Revolutions were a bit stinky (especially the laughably pretentious third film), the bulk of the game will feature and expand on the best bits from the original.

You'll start out as Thomas Anderson escaping from the agents in your office with the help of that then-trendy Nokia before taking training stints in Morpheus' dojo to learn Kung Fu and onwards through all the major scraps.

There are currently only two playable levels - that memorable office lobby scene with the bag of guns and a training level set in a Japanese garden, which sees you learning the art of the Samurai sword.

What's apparent from just these two is that Shiny is handing you the tools to fashion the game in the way you choose.

By that we mean there are hundreds of combinations of moves and around seven fighting styles to learn plus all the gunplay and it's up to you to stitch them all together and mimic the Wachowskis' heavily stylised violence on your 'box.

Initially it all feels a bit clumsy. Without a proper handle on the combos, in our hands Neo behaves like some child who's overdosed on Tartrazine and Haribo as he takes on the cops in the lobby, running up and along walls at inappropriate moments, flying over opponents' heads in slow-mo and generally being a bit of a dick.

But with persistence and practice we find ourselves elegantly cartwheeling sideways from behind pillars while unleashing leaden fury.

We're snatching weapons from guards before popping one in the back of their heads then twirling around and knocking a few more to the floor with a well-timed roundhouse. And so on.

Visually it's very tidy and particularly noteworthy are the effects of gunfire on the lobby's fixtures and fittings, which disintegrate before your eyes in a shower of concrete and steel chippings.

News that the Wachowskis themselves have re-edited parts of the films for the game's cutscenes so that they fit more neatly with the storyline adds more promise. All in all, Neo looks like he might finally be heading down the right path.

The Matrix: Path of Neo will be released for Xbox, PS2 and PC this winter

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