When I returned from E3 last month, the first title I picked up to test out was the heavily hyped Enter the Matrix. After all, I just finished seeing the movie (which I thought was just average, compared to the original, yet paled in comparison to other summer films so far such as X2), and wanted to give the game a shot. The fact that is was one of the few XBox titles to run in 1080i HDTV also caught my eye.
It is a shame though that the movie tie in and the 1080i would only be a front for the core gameplay, which was as repetitive as ever. It just felt like playing a new version of Max Payne at times (which I can now easily pick up for $15, PC version, and enjoy more) with some minor hand to hand combat thrown in. Even the plot that coincided with the theatrical release failed to impress me.
Let's face it, Enter the Matrix is a bust. And considering that this was published by "Atari," or should I say"INFOGRAMES, I'm not surprised at all.
Notice I put the name "Atari" in quotes; that's because there is a reason to my skepticism. Over the last year or so, Infogrames thought it would be a good marketing ploy to change their name to "Atari" so they could earn a better market share. I wanted to also get a glimpse of the new "Atari" at E3, but after Big Bertha Rent-A-Cop kept yelling out "Appointments Only," I only replied as loud as I can with my own reply". "YOU ARE NOT THE REAL ATARI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I wonder what Nolan Bushnell (founder of the real Atari) would think about Bruno Bonnell's marketing ploy to call his company "Atari?" Then again, I wouldn't be certain considering Atari's history. What was once a dominating video game company eventually was plagued with mass produced titles that were unbelievably sub-par. Even when they got their hands on a lucrative product, they found some way to ruin it. How could anyone forget that abomination they decided to pass off to us as Pac Man? Or how about their version of Defender? Both of which were complete jokes, and even impressive arcade quality sequels to both titles were not enough to help prevent an inevitable crash.
After the crash, the situation for the real Atari got worse, when the evil Tramiel Empire bought the company and decided to put video games to the back burner. If it weren't for them, maybe Atari could have retained total control of the marketplace with the 7800, or even better, Atari might not have screwed up a potential deal to have US rights to the Nintendo Entertainment System (we all know how that ended with Nintendo being the runaway winner)
In the end, the 7800 was limped out to a market that was consumed by the NES, and we can thank the Tramiels for that. In my point of view the real Atari died in 1984, a casualty of the big crash.
Nonetheless, I do find a sense of irony between the original Atari and the "Atari" we have today: both have their movie tie-in failure. The good news for "Atari" is that Enter the Matrix will not end up in a New Mexico landfill in the same way that Atari's five million ET carts ended up after "nearly all of them came back." It was just reported recently that Matrix sold 25 million copies but I wonder how many of them were returned or exchanged for something else?