Has anyone else been obsessively rewatching the latest trailer for the upcoming Matrix Resurrections film? I usually avoid trailers these days as they just give up the whole dang film for some reason. But the Matrix universe has so many unanswered questions, I couldn't resist. And now having seen it, there are so many more.
For some bizarre reason, we've collectively decided to disown the sequels to the original sci-fi classic. And to a greater extent (and more understandably), we've actively chosen to ignore the series' spin-off games, particularly 2003's Enter the Matrix. It was janky, repetitive, and filled with set pieces that didn't pump the adrenaline like other action games at the time. Yet somehow, despite its flaws, Shiny had made one of the most addictive games I'd ever purchased that generation.
For my brother and I, it was pure joy. And the not-so-secret ingredient for this was the ability to turn on cheats. Whether it was to give yourself unlimited ammo or make yourself invisible to enemies, the game suddenly became an endless bucket of fun. It's one of the few times a video game has let you feel like a kung fu master. By dodging bullets, running up and bouncing off walls, and using bullet-time (labelled 'focus' in the game), it felt like you were playing as Neo himself. It was as enjoyable as recklessly driving in GTA: Vice City, and then dialling down the cops' attention on you through a cheat code.
It's hard to take ourselves back to 2003 when the game was released, or to separate it from the films. The sequels to the Matrix movies were deafeningly hyped, and the subsequent box office intake shows this. Thanks to the trailer for Resurrections, I remember both trips I made to the cinema. I wasn't even old enough to see them, but my older brother taking me - and the onstart of facial hair - certainly helped me get past the sales desk. We were an hour early for Revelations, and my brother decided to run laps around the screening room out of excitement. The game's hype was just as big, with five million copies sold in the first year - an absolute dream for any licensed property.
It was during the filming of the movies that cut-scenes for the game were also filmed. You played the game as either Ghost or Niobe, characters portrayed in the films by Anthony Wong and Jada Pinkett-Smith, respectively. Sadly, despite being directed by the Wachowskis themselves (like the films), I didn't feel much (if any) of the film's mythology or more heartfelt human themes when delivering spinning karate kicks. It's now widely understood that the series is an allegory for trans experience. But the game is purely about the action side of things.
I decided to rewatch the films after the new trailer went live. There's going to be so much cross-referencing and hype within the fandom (and afar) once Resurrections is released. But to keep ourselves occupied until then, it's worth familiarising ourselves again with the frantic hand-to-hand chopping and blocking from the series through the broadly sculpted and limited thrills of Enter the Matrix.