The Matrix Online is out there, and it's looking for us all...
The Matrix online is coming. It's real. I know, I've seen it. I've lived it. And soon it will have you too. Do you want me to show you what The Matrix Online is?
If you take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up on the porcelain throne you're sitting on while reading this and believe whatever you want to believe (like the lack of bog roll left on that cardboard tube). If you take the red pill and you join me and The Matrix Online's lead designer Toby Ragaini on the other side in the Beta test, we'll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes...
It's cold. It's really cold. I feel my virtual body stretch as though it's being sucked through an industrial-sized Dyson, flesh seeping away into electrical pulses, followed by a light-speed rush into an alternate dimension. I've just been 'awakened' from my sleep by Zion operatives. Just taken my first step into The Matrix Online Beta test.
I blink wildly as my eyes see for the first time. Sprawling into the distance are miles of sleeping men and women in towering banks of fuel cells that feed the machines that now dominate the earth. Welcome, as the man said, to the real world.
But I've no time to gawp. Whisked away by my rescuers, I immediately start my training in a detailed simulated tutorial program, ready to return to the Matrix as a fully-trained Zion operative. "The war in the real world is over and eyes now turn to the action inside the Matrix. Here, a cold war rages with acts of espionage, assassination and counter-intelligence," explains Ragaini as I finish the tutorial and begin the intuitive yet massively detailed character creation process.
After configuring my look, I'm given the choice of specialising as a soldier, a spy or hacker. "Each character can acquire and load Ability Codes for each mission, allowing an unprecedented degree of customisation and flexibility," explains Ragaini as I ready myself to jack back in. "The future of the Matrix literally takes place in The Matrix Online. The Wachowski Brothers and Paul Chadwick (the scriptwriter) have created a year-long outline that includes all the major movie characters that survived The Matrix Revolutions. I even got a call from Andy Wachowski the other day and he was telling me about his character in the Beta test. That's how involved the Wachowskis are." As his words fade I feel a searing stabbing pain in my head causing me to wince in agony. I open my eyes. I'm in.
I'm standing in a courtyard. In all directions spill the concrete confines of a titanic city, dank and uninviting, yet gargantuan in scope. All around me, fetish wear-clad player-characters sprint around the cracking cement jungle carrying out missions for their masters. The Matrix Online's world (generated by an engine specifically designed for this game) oozes with sinister undertones, perfectly capturing the freakish nature of the movies' denizens and bleak, green-grey shades of the cityscapes.
I run into a nearby building with its unsettlingly cracked walls and damp, peeling wallpaper, then seamlessly run up to the top level to peer down at the spot where I'd stood just seconds earlier.
"The urban oppression of the Matrix is captured in the looming skylines and bleak alleyways," Ragaini explains. "Each building has complete interiors and there are no load times as players transition from exterior to interior and back. You
can hyper-jump onto a rooftop, run down a stairway, get in a fire-fight, flee out of a balcony and jump to the ground without experiencing a single load."