I downloaded and installed the 14 day trial of the Matrix Online and I have to say it is a unique game, if that is the nicest way to put it. To me it seems that it is almost a direct copy of City of Heroes. The missions, the way the contacts are called up and the way the powers are activated remind me of City of Heroes. Beyond that the similarities end. I have to say that I am completely lost in this game. It is very confusing and the tutorial is absolutely god awful. The best way to learn the game is the in game help index. Character skills, abilities and stats are largely unexplained to the noobie, and I had an easier time understanding EVE Online than I did getting into this game.
By far the worst (or best according to some players) feature is the odd combat system. This system is not explained at all, in fact half the interface that is used in combat goes largely unexplained in the tutorial so that the new player is forced to resort to just clicking interface buttons and watching the pretty graphics. Basically combat goes in “rounds” where you will make a move, and the opponent will make a move. After the animations are done, the results pop up in the combat window. So it is very important to remember that what you are watching has already been determined, you are just seeing a graphical result of the combat. The real kicker comes in having to pay attention to the combat log to know what the hell is going on. I will admit though the combat looks cool, so at least that is entertaining. Each round is 4 seconds and there are two types of combat: interlock and free fire. Free fire lets you shoot guns and move around freely. Interlocked means you are in some martial arts combat and hand to hand. I guess this allows multiple people to engage in mass combat, but I haven't seen this in action yet.
I won’t go into a full review of the game because I just started in it, but so far I don’t really feel like I’m in the Matrix, I feel like I’m in a cyberpunk City of Heroes. I talk to a contact, I get a mission, I run to a door and I fight. Yup, that is City of Heroes. I don’t understand the combat at all. The interface is very odd. Pretty much the move you pick has bonuses and negatives, but I am not sure how to tell what my opponent is doing or how to tell what to counter with. One thing I do like is the ranged weapons. Having uzi’s and shotguns is pretty cool, but again I can do that in Tabula Rasa. The game was also relatively dead and quiet. I saw maybe 7 people the whole time I was in, but that is typical of most noobie zones for 2 plus year old games. I will keep giving it a shot, but so far it is nothing spectacular. I think I would have more fun just playing Enter the Matrix. There is some blatant in game advertising as well, such as Intel posters and things like that, but oh well we have seen this before.