The Matrix Online
adds plenty of references and details found in the movies. Once you enter the Matrix from the login screen, you're greeted by a world being created around you. The screen begins as a mess of Matrix code and slowly forms into your surroundings. Environments are very industrial and have a big city feeling to them. Areas range from low-rent slums to NYC style cityscapes. During your quest, you'll even come across Spanish-style churches and Japanese inspired architecture. It may not be the expansive fantasy worlds of Everquest
' multiple planets, but what's here works for the game and gives you a nice area to explore and adventure in.
Another impressive movie tie-in comes in the audio department. Many stars from the movie, including Lawrence Fishburne and Monica Bellucci, lend their voices and likenesses to the game. Don Davies, who composed the movie's soundtrack, provides the score for the game.
Once you're jacked into the Matrix, you're provided with the typical MMO experience. At the start, you're only able to run missions for Zion, the group that freed you. These missions serve as a training ground to get you acquainted with the various mission types available in the game. Missions are based more around story than being sent out to mindlessly kill a nest of enemies.
You begin by contacting an operator via your cell phone, who will then tell you what needs to be done. As with quests in other games, missions all include some kind of backstory. In the case of The Matrix Online, most involve freeing other people. There are, however, some twists to the formula since missions actually require you to play though the story. When you're asked to enter a building and steal a piece of information, you really do have to break into the building and do it. Most jobs are also multi-tiered affairs that require you to change your plans midstream and travel to more than one location.
Eventually your actions will get the attention of the Matrix's other two powers: The Machines and Merovingian, both of which will begin to offer you missions. From here you can choose to align yourself with one of the three factions or go freelance. The benefits that come from your alignment (or lack of) aren't completely clear (at least beyond some special perks), but Monolith has several story arcs planned for the game once it releases, so expect to see factional allegiance become even more important down the line.