Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski of Shiny talks about Path of Neo

By Paul Martin November 3rd, 2005, in Interviews, The Matrix: Path of Neo

Even though Shiny and Atari released the movie based Enter The Matrix to huge sales, the game did get mixed reviews from critics. Now Shiny and Atari are back again with The Matrix: Path of Neo and this time instead of playing as some side characters you are playing as the lead character Neo through the events of the entire movie trilogy. Gamecloud got a chance to chat with Shiny designer Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski to find out more about the game that ships to stores next week.

Gamecloud – First, Enter the Matrix sold extremely well but got mixed reviews from critics. Overall how do you feel about the game itself turned out?

Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski – The team stands proudly by the title and we hope people of all ages and skill types enjoy the ride. We all believe that Path of Neo is above and beyond ETM, delivering a higher-quality Matrix experience for fans and action gamers. Atari and Shiny are also excited about the new twists and bonus content created by the Wachowski brothers.

Gamecloud – How did the idea for The Matrix: Path of Neo come about?

Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski – After ETM, team members were quick to pursue a broader, more polished vision of ETM. Killing the chunk and evolving the potential of the coolest features was on everyone’s mind. But get to work on what? Niobe and Ghost part 2?

Some time passed and the team knew another Matrix title was the biggest bet so after some discussion, the new project surfaced… which would cast players in the role of Seraph. As Seraph, the goal would be to deliver the Neo experience. Who knows, maybe Seraph could have wiped the floor with Neo if he hadn’t stopped the fight?

Then one day it just happened. Dave Perry hung up the phone with the Wachowski brothers, rounded up the team and announced the final working name and direction of the project, “Neo.” The crowd goes wild.

Gamecloud – This game takes place throughout the entire Matrix movie trilogy. How hard was it to pick sections of the movie to use for The Path of Neo?

Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski – Picking levels was the easy part. Watch the films back-to-back, take note of every fight Neo was featured in, and then translate to gameplay. We knew the Lobby, Burly Brawl, and Final Fight had to be in the game so design, animation, and programming quickly began work on developing the necessary systems.

Gamecloud – What can you tell us about how the storyline of Path of Neo and how it will be structured?

Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski – The game story follows the trilogy from Neo’s point of view and so the bulk of the game levels follow a linear progression. Between beats gamers are treated to re-cut footage of the Matrix films which was personally overseen by the Wachowski bros. It’s the first time they have re-edited the films and what they have delivered creates a new way to experience the movies and get gamers pumped for superhuman kung fu and gunplay.

There are other beats that have been added such as the Red Pill and Captains’ Rescues missions. These missions bridge time gaps, add story elements, introduce new characters, and are played in any order the player wishes. Two Anderson missions can be skipped (turn yourself in like Anderson did in the films) or be played to completion to unlock a bonus award and view different FMV footage.

Gamecloud – What sequences from the movies will be featured in the game?

Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski – Every battle Neo faced in the Matrix Trilogy has been recreated for gamers to experience in one form or another and all the big scenes such as the Dojo, Lobby Shooting Spree, Subway Showdown, the Upgrades fight, Seraph versus, Burly Brawl, Great Hall, and the Super Burly Brawl (final aerial fight) are playable.

On top of that, each movie-to-game environment is a director’s cut; meaning new rooms, destruction, tools, characters, and story have been added to evolve and extend gameplay.

Gamecloud – Will there be any new sequences in Path of Neo that are original to the game?

Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski– Missions only hinted at in the films such as Anderson’s Escape, Training Programs, Red Pill and Captains’ Rescues have been crafted to bridge time gaps and serve up additional background story on the character of Neo. Some of the new missions feature elements and characters inspired by the Animatrix and the Matrix Comics.

Gamecloud – How will the game’s combat system be handled?

Benjamin “BJ” Cholewinski – Neo entertains quite a few one-on-one fights in the game. To take on boss-type characters such as Smith and Seraph, Neo can pull aerial evasions, off-wall attacks, strike and special combos, linkers, finishers, charge-ups, and more by using combinations of the Strike, Special Attack, Evade, Jump, and Focus (bullet time) buttons.

Fighting bosses can be tough as they will quickly begin to counter and dodge attacks used too often by the player. Some even regenerate health. It’s best to mix up attacks and fight bosses aggressively. The combat system also includes some cool ways to fight multiple enemies at once. Groups of enemies will attempt to surround Neo and land attacks offline. To handle these situations players can use the left stick and the Strike button to direct offline strikes, blocks, throws, and knock backs.

There are also Link-Up Attacks activated by using the left stick and Special Attack button which are most effective at disposing two or three NPCs simultaneously. Neo can do aerial splits kicks or punch a guy on his left and right while kicking a third in front of him. Using Focus at the start of a Link-Up Attack increases damage and changes the animation set. If Neo is armed with a Melee Weapon then the animations, damage, and attack angles will vary.

Ranged combat tactics occupy their own buttons and the default controller set-up separates the guns from the gloves. When you’re punching and kicking you’re on the face buttons. Targeting and blasting is on the shoulder buttons to drive home the feel of pulling a trigger. The Target Lock button can be used anytime Neo has a melee weapon, firearm, or grenade on hand to quickly sight and lock-on. The right stick is used to cycle targets and interactive objects that beg to be blown to bits. for the rest!

Thanks to TrinityInfinity!

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