|Developer:||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Release Date:||March 22, 2005|
The Matrix Online (MxO) is a massively multiplayer online game developed by Monolith Productions. It is set in the fictional universe of The Matrix and continues the story told in The Matrix series. The game began closed beta testing in June 2004, and saw a special closed beta test for pre-orders beginning in November 2004. Warner Bros. and Sega officially released MxO on March 22, 2005 in the United States. It was released in Europe on April 15, 2005.
All players in the game play the role of a red pill, a human who was formerly trapped inside the Matrix. When a new character is made, the player is given the choice of taking a blue pill that will return them to their former life (quit the game) or a red pill, which will free their minds from the Matrix. Characters who are unaware of the fact that they are in the simulation are often referred to as "blue pills" because they have either taken the blue pill or have not been given the choice yet. People who are aware of the simulation (players) are referred to as "redpills" because they have taken the red pill (or, in very rare cases, when a character has self-substantiated out of the Matrix on their own). Following the choice between the two pills, the player is then taken through a basic tutorial of the game's mechanics, including mission interaction and the combat system. After the tutorial, they are then free to roam the Mega City (the city that the entire Matrix story is set in).
The Matrix Online is different from most MMOs because of its combat system. Combat is divided into two separate parts: Free-fire and Interlock. Free-fire mode allows for large gun battles to take place, while Interlock is often broken down into bullet-time-affected martial arts moves and close-quarters gunfire.
There are three main classes in the Matrix Online: Coder, Hacker, and Operative. Coders create a special "simulacrum" that fight for them. Hackers manipulate the code of the Matrix to affect friends and enemies from a distance, either damaging them, downgrading their combat abilities, or healing them and upgrading their powers. Operatives are the common soldiers seen from the movies - Martial Artists, Gunmen, and the new Spy class, which revolves around stealth fighting and knife throwing.
In free-fire mode, operatives exchange damage with each other. Gunmen and Hackers are well-equipped for this, with their ranged attacks and abilities. Martial Artists must get close to their targets to be effective, and although a Spy's most dangerous abilities are initiated out of Interlock, they also pull their opponents into Interlock. Each attack or ability is used at timed intervals, based on the system of damage per second (D.P.S.). For example, the strongest rifle in the Matrix does 15 damage points per second, and has a fire rate of 3.5 seconds, which, in free-fire, causes the rifle to have a base damage of 52.5, to be altered by the player's own stats. Opposed to such, a Hacker's stronger attack ability such as Logic Barrage 4.0 does 63 D.P.S., but with a short casting timer, does a base damage of only 120-180 damage.
In Interlock, or Close Combat, two players exchange damage in rounds. Each round lasts exactly four seconds. For each round, the two players' accuracies are pitted against each others' defenses, which are slightly affected by a random "luck" roll. There are three different outcomes to a round: hit-hit, hit-miss, or miss-miss. In hit-miss, one of the players will hit the other while dodging or blocking their attack. In miss-miss, both players will parry each other without doing damage. In hit-hit, one player will damage the other, only to be damaged themselves in a counter attack. When special abilities are used, however, there can be no hit-hit round, although the miss-miss round can still apply.
When taking or dealing damage, one player's damage influences are pitted against another player's resistance influences of the same damage type (i.e. a gunman's ballistic damage versus an opponent's ballistic resistance). Higher resistance versus lower damage means that the defending player will not take as much damage.
When attacking or defending against attacks, one player's accuracy influences are pitted against another's defense influences of the same attack type.
There is no turn-based combat in the Matrix Online. All combat takes place in "real time", and large scale battles are often decided by the sheer numbers of forces of one side versus others. Amassing a large number of players to control the battlefield is affectionately dubbed "zerging", an allusion to Blizzard's StarCraft and the Zerg race, which uses the power in numbers strategy to win battles.
Currently, there is no way to effectively use player versus player combat scores as content, although content designed for PvP has been recently added, such as items that drop in the game world and can be picked up that grant powers to the player that lugs them around, hence they are called "luggables".
The Matrix Online has a unique class system. Players can load abilities they have either purchased or produced (by the Coder class, known in-game as coding) at Hardlines, provided they have enough memory and the abilities that precede the loading one. These abilities can then be switched out at a Hardline at a moment's notice. This leads to a very flexible class system, without players being stuck in one class.
The three main archetypes are Hacker, Coder, and Operative. They are similar to the classes Mage, Crafter, and Fighter in other MMORPGs. These classes then each branch out into sub-classes, with Coder, for example being divided into Programmer (out of battle item and ability maker) and Code Shaper (creates simulacrums to fight with, similarities to a necromancer/summoner in other MMOs).