Wednesday means its Community Review time once again, and this week we’re going to look at a bit of an odd one. We’re talking about The Matrix Awakens.
Now, you couldn’t call this a game. It’s not much more than a cross-promotional marketing exercise. But it also gives us an important glimpse into the inner workings of the Unreal Engine 5 software development kit.
Unreal Engine is widely-known for dazzling visuals and cutting-edge systems and pipelines. So well known in fact, that even film studios like Disney are using it as a cheap and effective way to drive VFX in productions like The Mandalorian. Now it’s being used to create dazzling, photorealistic tie-ins for upcoming Matrix sequels. That it doubles as a showroom piece for what this new version of UE can produce is the icing on the cake for its creator, Epic Games.
The demo is free on both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S stores and anyone can try it out. What begins as a scripted cutscene showcasing detailed character models gives way to an explosive, though simple, chase. After stringing together several of the engine’s new features, players are dropped into a Matrix-ified recreation of New York. It feels like a third-person adventure game. You can explore the city on foot or use a floating drone camera to explore it in 3D.
At every turn, the demo is strikingly beautiful, Unreal Engine 5’s systems working in unison to create something that feels utterly photoreal.
How did the critics feel about it? The Verge’s Sean Hollister wasn’t sold on the demo, saying “At first, I was wowed by how realistic Keanu Reeves looks off the bat, but if you watch closely, you’ll see that the character models get less and less impressive as time goes on.” Digital Foundry technology editor Richard Leadbetter was significantly more effusive in his praise, breaking down every lever the demo is pulling behind the curtain.
But what did you think? The demo’s been available for a few days now. If you’re lucky enough to have a PS5 or Series X of your own, have you played it? How have you found it? Do you think it’s a glimpse into the future of video game technology? Or is it just another marketing exercise? Would you love a new Matrix game created with this technology?
We’d love to know your thoughts.