The existence of a fourth Matrix movie has awakened something in me. I always knew I liked those movies – yes, even Reloaded and Revolutions, though to a lesser extent than the first – but I never really realized quite how much they meant to me. As somebody who was in their early teens when the sequels released, the Matrix was just about the coolest shit imaginable. What I’ve realized now is that those movies grabbed me in the same sort of way I imagine Star Wars grabbed kids in the seventies. They are, in a way, my Star Wars.
So, naturally, I’m excited for the fourth one. In particular, I’m intrigued and pumped to see that the film appears to actually have something to say about nostalgia, reboots, sequels, and our love of things we already know. There’s clearly lots of nods to the past, but the trailers and footage released appears to paint them as more purposeful to the film as a whole than the typical soft reboot template championed and cemented as a box office winner by The Force Awakens.
But another thing has me excited for the return of The Matrix: its potential as a video game. The lore and world the Wachowskis created feels practically tailor-made for video games, and indeed it’s no surprise that both of The Matrix’s creators are big video game fans themselves. You can see the influence of games in The Matrix as much as you can the influence of Hong Kong action cinema, really – and every time it’s been converted over to video games it’s been, at the very least, okay.
Of the three Matrix video games, each has its own charm. The Matrix Online wasn’t the greatest MMO, but it championed ideas around different ways of doing MMO storytelling, and leaned into the computerized nature of The Matrix to explain away game design contrivances in a way few franchises could manage. Enter the Matrix is my personal favorite. A pretty run-of-the-mill third person PS2 action game, it’s nevertheless hugely ambitious in how it weaves in and out of the story of the Matrix sequels, using the movie sets and cast to film additional live-action scenes to add to the game’s authenticity. In many ways it remains my favourite movie tie-in game just on the strength of its ambition alone, and it’s particularly cool to see Enter’s star, Niobe, returning in trailers for Resurrections.
And Path of Neo is just fun. Dumb. Again, it’s another PS2-era action game, with all the foibles that implies – but it has a great energy and an extremely tongue-in-cheek ending. I really like all three of them. The two single-player games are, like, solid 7/10 fare, or at least were at the time. The MMO is more complicated to judge, but I had some good times with it.
When I think about the progress that games have made in the interim decades, it’s difficult not to think about how perfect many of these advancements would be for more properly depicting The Matrix. I’m not just talking about visuals, either – though Unreal’s incredible Matrix-themed UE5 tech demo showcases just why that world is ripe to be depicted in games again from a technological standpoint. But also in terms of game design – the conceits and mechanics of the Matrix universe deserve to be mined by modern game design.
Before their new Wonder Woman game was revealed at The Game Awards, I jokingly said on twitter that the perfect project for Monolith Productions, a subsidiary of Matrix franchise owner Warner Bros., would be The Matrix. Have them craft a Matrix mega city open world and use the Middle-Earth ‘Nemesis’ system to track your red pill’s relationship to Agents, Exiles, and other forces within The Matrix.
Except, you know, I wasn’t really joking: I genuinely think that studio and this franchise would be a perfect fit. I’m pleased they’re making Wonder Woman – Diana deserves a good game as much as Batman – but, man, I’ll always want that Matrix game. I really hope that Resurrections is successful – if only because it might help pave the way to a new Matrix game.