Tired of the same old, tired, fantasy MMO genres? Are you maybe a little too old to be playing around with Elves, Pixies and Hobgoblins? The Matrix Online presents players with a refreshing change in about as cool a setting as you can get.
Players start out as newly-awakened "Redpills" entering the virtual world that was so vividly realized in Matrix Trilogy of films. Chronologically, the game world begins where the last film of the Trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, left off. Because of Neo's efforts there exists a fragile truce between Zion and the Machines, whereby a limited number of redpills are allowed limited freedom within Mega City, the geographic area where the bulk of the Trilogy was set. After almost two years of story (the game was officially released in March 2005), a constant theme is the recurrence of various threats to not only the human-machine truce but in some cases threats to the stability of the Matrix itself. Layers of intrigue upon intrigue make the storyline continuously exciting.
As choice was a predominant theme in the Trilogy, so you are given many choices within the game. The first major choice you will make is to whom you will ally yourself with and work for. Probably the most common choice players make is to work for Zion, although players can also work for the Machines, or work for The Merovingian, who is the de facto leader of the "Exiles" (rogue programs). These three groups are the main "orgs" in the game, although there exists two sub-groups within the Zion and Machine orgs respectively. The first, E Pluribus Neo (EPN), are more radical from their parent org Zion, and seek to free more minds from the Matrix. They are led by The Kid, who appeared in the second two films. The second, the Cypherites, are a more radical offshoot of the Machine org, and they seek to give give more people the option to return to the "Bluepill" state. They are led by Cryptos, who did not appear in the Trilogy.
Choice again manifests itself in what roles or class players choose for themselves. Players may be Operatives (Martial Artists, Gunmen, Spies or Assassins - analogous to Fighters and Rogues of other MMO's), Hackers (analogous to Wizards or Clerics in other MMO's), or Coders (players can craft everything from simulacra to abilities to clothing to weapons, among other things). The best part about The Matrix Online, however, is unlike other games you aren't locked into one class for the rest of your online career. If you, for example, are unhappy being a Hacker, you can unload your Hacker abilities and load up Martial Artist abilities. Players are given a finite number of "memory slots" from which they can custom-build loadouts of whatever Ability Tree they choose.
The look of the game is fantastic. Firstly Mega City itself is very well realized, and players have access to four distinct districts of the city and the thousands of buildings within. Secondly the combat graphics are amazing, complimenting well with the Matrix franchise. Lastly the look of the players themselves is uber-cool. People look really ultra-hot and ultra-stylish. Style is important in the game, with literally tens of thousands of clothing combinations one can wear.
There are lots of things to do in-game. You can simply hang out, look cool and chat; you can explore dangerous neighborhoods laden with Exile gangs; you can collect rare items; go to special Archive Constructs; or test your fighting skills against other players. However, the best way to advance in level is to go on Missions (analogous to Quests in other MMO's). There are several types of missions you can go on. You can choose a standard mission, which are generic missions that are always available to you. Or you can choose a critical mission, which serve to advance the storyline in some way. New critical missions come out on average once a week.
If you are lucky, in the right place at the right time, you may be able to participate in a Live Event. This is when major characters from the story step into the world of The Matrix to interact real-time with players. Previous Live Events have featured such well-known characters as Morpheus, The Merovingian, Niobe, Ghost, Persephone, The Kid, The Architect, The Oracle, The Twins, and Seraph. They have also featuerd new major characters such as The Assassin, The General, Agent Pace, Agent Grey, Anome and Cryptos.
In summation, this game is a delight on all levels. I personally have never been a huge video gamer....never had an interest nor played MMO's before this....but with The Matrix Online I have a blast. I look cool and kick ass all for a very marginal monthly fee. I've been playing now for over two years and the game is just as exciting as its ever been. I give this game an enthusiastic ten stars and encourage everyone to check it out!
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