The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Tom Clancy’s The Division: Returning to take back New York

“The good old days are now.” –Tom Clancy

The Division‘s premise is well-known by this point in time: during Black Friday, a smallpox epidemic caused by contaminated bank notes brings New York to its knees, forcing the activation of the stay-behind units, known as the Division, to help law enforcement and emergency responders, the Joint Task Force, restore order. After arriving in Brooklyn, players assist the Joint Task Force (JTF) in securing supplies and a precinct station before meeting with another agent, Faye Lau. Players make their way to Manhattan Island and arrive at the James A. Farley Post Office Building, which has been repurposed as a make-shift command center. Severely understaffed and under-equipped, players retrieve medical expert Jessica Kandel, engineer Paul Rhodes and Captain Roy Benitez by fighting through the Madison Square Garden, subway tunnels and Lincoln Tunnel entrance, respectively. With the base of operations slowly restored, players can begin exploring other parts of Manhattan to help Kandel work out how the smallpox epidemic started, keep the facilities operational for Rhodes and aid Benitez in security-related details. I am, in short, back to where I was when The Division‘s open beta ended last February. In my original discussion, I remarked that my decision to buy The Division would be determined by whether or not there was sufficient content in the game once it launched; post-launch, it was shown that The Division has a solid narrative that creates a highly immersive, compelling background for the game. While The Division is a loot-based shooter, the amount of minor details that went into explaining how the smallpox epidemic came to be is nothing short of impressive, and so, once the price point became suitable, I decided to pick the game up a year and a half after its launch.

My current plan is to play through The Division as a solo player – my interests in The Division was largely in its atmosphere and setting, rather than the Dark Zone and any endgame content. There’s a substantial campaign to The Division, and this can be completed alone, allowing me to explore the empty streets of Manhattan at my own leisure. It is in solo play that the enormity of what’s hit Manhattan becomes apparent: taking on missions on my own means being forced to rely on my wit to assess a situation and determine how to best handle it. Escaping pinches boils down to reflexes and good use of gear. It’s a thrilling solitary experience, giving players the sense of just how challenging the process of dealing with the aftermath of a large-scale epidemic in a first-world nation is. Solo play through the campaign offers a more authentic experience, and I’ve experienced only moderate difficulty in making my way though things thus far – after readjusting to The Division‘s unique control scheme, things have progressed relatively smoothly, and I’ve finished off all of the major missions available during the open beta. This sets me up for continuing the process of upgrading all of the wings in the base of operations to access all of the different talents and abilities available, all the while diving deeper into Manhattan and uncovering the cause for the smallpox epidemic seen in The Division, as well as what caused the first group of Division agents to disappear.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • During the open beta, I spawned in at level four and was already on Manhattan. However, in the completed game, players start out with an MP5 and a pistol on Brooklyn. After ISAC, the player’s AI assistant, walks them through the tutorial for the basics, players can meet up with JTF forces at a local safehouse and undertake their first few missions. The streets of Manhattan are rather monotonous to traverse, and safehouses allow for quick travel across the island.

  • The first few missions of The Division introduce players to the different types of missions available in the game. They aren’t very diverse with respect to what they entail: main missions will involve entering a subterranean or closed off area to clear off hordes of enemies before defeating a boss. Side missions and encounters will involve completing tasks in a set amount of time, defending supplies or a JTF commander, rescuing hostages or investigating missing persons. Enemies are similarly limited in variety. This is a longstanding shortcoming in The Division, but I’m okay with this aspect, since the game makes up for this with its world-building elements.

  • Unlike first person shooters, where health is easily acquired as pick-ups or regenerates automatically, The Division is a cover-based shooter, where players must hide behind cover and strategically use it to win firefights. Careful, controlled bursts of automatic weapon fire and retreating behind cover to reload, or moving from cover to cover improves survivability. Here, I begin the precinct siege mission, which involves clearing out a police installation and taking it back so the JTF can use it as a headquarters.

  • The skyline of Manhattan is visible in the distance, as is the Brooklyn Bridge. Once the boss to the precinct siege mission is beaten, players will travel over to Manhattan, where the game proper begins. Bosses in The Division are characterised by their yellow health bars and an additional layer of armour on top, which must be stripped away before any damage can be dealt to them. I’ve found that engaging bosses at longer ranges with a modicum of patience is ideal – once the armour is gone, bosses go down with almost the same ease as standard opponents.

  • As I make my way to the base of operations, Christmas lights and decorations can be seen everywhere. The Division is set in the months following Black Friday; this is usually the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, leading into the Christmas season, and as a result, one of the things that I was looking to do was play The Division during Christmas, when folks have set up all of their Christmas decorations.

  • Christmas is a busy season, and can be quite stressful, as well, especially for folks who are preparing for the arrival of relatives. However, in my family, Christmas has always been a highly relaxing time of year: we’ve never gone overboard with preparations and have placed greater emphasis on togetherness over how grandiose the events are. This Christmas, we have no plans for travelling, having already visited Japan and Hong Kong during May, and so, I look forwards to a quiet Christmas that I will likely spend reading, gaming and if the weather is favourable, taking a bit of a walk in the nearby hills.

  • On the topic of weather, one of the best features of The Division is the dynamic time of day and weather systems: snowfall and fog can change the atmosphere, as well as forcing players to modify their play-style to accommodate shifting weather patterns, while lighting differences between day and night give locales a completely different feel.

  • We’re now a mere fifteen days from Christmas, and therefore, Christmas festivities have become much more visible. Yesterday morning, I visited the Edelweiß Village, a speciality market selling German, Dutch, Polish and Scandinavian foods, as well as crafts. I’ve long been interested in aspects of German culture and took all of the German language courses during my time in high school, visiting the Edelweisß village on a field trip, where one of the requirements was to order a complete lunch auf Deutsch.

  • During the evening, I had dinner at a newly renovated Chinese restaurant; there was a special five course meal that was superbly prepared, featuring pumpkin-and-salmon soup, lobster salad, triple-A Alberta Beef with a black pepper sauce, white-cut chicken and sweet and sour pork. This restaurant’s cooking was superb, bringing to mind the sort of quality I recall enjoying at an upper-scale restaurant at a hotel in Shanghai some years back. I’ve heard that in Cantonese cooking, the freshness of ingredients can be inferred by how much spice and seasoning is used in a dish; last night’s ingredients were definitely fresh given the minimal (but well-adjusted) use of spices and seasonings.

  • I spent most of today doing my Christmas shopping and are finished for the year; this is perhaps one of the advantages of being a free agent, in that I don’t have to buy something for a significant other. A South Street Burger also opened at the local mall, so we had a chance to try their grill burgers: they’re definitely larger and more flavourful than conventional fast food burgers, with fresher ingredients. I ended up combining maple syrup with jalapeño peppers to create a uniquely-tasking burger, and once lunch ended, I proceeded to finish my shopping.

  • The malls were not particularly crowded today, despite it being quite close to Christmas, making the shopping process rather straightforwards. Back in The Division, I’ve returned to the Madison Square Garden to rescue Jessica Kandel. I think I was equipped with the M4 rifle and MP5 on my first play through during the open beta, but here, I’ve swapped out the MP5 for the RPK light machine gun. I would have preferred to have a good marksman weapon on hand, as well, as this would have made taking on the boss a bit more straightforwards.

  • Admittedly, one of the reasons why I initially was not keen on The Division (besides that price tag), was that I would need to go back through and do all of these missions again. However, playing through them again proved to be a different experience. Inspection of my HUD shows that here, I’ve got the ballistic shield ability equipped with proximity scan. During my original play-through during the open beta, I had only the proximity scan slot open. Despite being the first ability available, proximity scan remains immensely useful well into the late game, being able to pick out the location of different threats.

  • The other ability I have equipped here is a ballistic shield that blocks incoming damage, while limiting players to their sidearms. I’ve personally only found limited use for it, but the ability is fantastic for situations where there is not much cover, and players who improve their sidearm performance can perform very well with a ballistic shield.

  • Being armed with an LMG is actually quite useful for a boss fight. I normally run with assault rifles in The Division for their general versatility; LMGs can hit quite hard and have a good firing rate, becoming more accurate as they are fired, while marksman rifles can deal bonus headshot damage. Shotguns are capable of one-shot killing enemies at close ranges, and PDWs have the highest probability of dealing critical damage to enemies, but are similarly limited to close ranges.

  • After rescuing Kandel, the next mission I did was the subway morgue, where the goal was to find Rhodes. I’ve featured a fair number of screenshots during my talk on The Division‘s open beta, so there won’t be too many more screenshots of this level here. With this being said, the level hasn’t changed too much since the beta, and one of the other elements of The Division that stands out is that interiors of buildings, tunnels sewers and other areas are incredibly detailed.

  • Cleaners are quite entertaining to fight, since they carry large, flammable tanks on their backs that can be ignited for massive damage. Here, I deal with Benchley a second time: he’s armed with a flamethrower that has more range than those of the other Cleaners, but keeping him at bay and returning fire made this mission a straightforwards one to beat. At this point in the beta, I already had a marksman rifle, but lacking one, I improvised with an LMG.

  • The Division‘s open beta did not feature the Lincoln Tunnel checkpoint mission, which unlocks the security wing at the base of operations when completed: I visited this site for the first time and found a sea of abandoned vehicles. In reality, the Lincoln Tunnels are one of the most busy traffic links from Manhattan to New Jersey and was opened in 1937. It is considered to be a high risk target for terrorists owing to how much traffic moves through it, and in The Division, it is how the JTF have managed to ferry supplies into Manhattan to help recovery efforts.

  • The medical wing provides players with abilities and talents that improve survivability, while the tech wing offers upgrades for their skills. The security wing provides players access to better weapons. All of the wings require a total of 4000 supply points to unlock, and these can be accrued by playing main missions, as well as finishing encounters. In general, main missions and side missions are the best way to gain experience points for levelling up, while encounters offer much less experience. I’ll only do encounters if they’re en route to a main or side mission to save time.

  • At high settings, The Division doesn’t look too different than on medium, which is what I was playing on during the open beta. An upgraded GPU has allowed me to push the game a little and gain more frame rates: my old GPU could only run the game at 40 FPS, but I’ve had no trouble maintaining a steady 60 FPS at 1080p with my current GPU. I make my way through the tunnel here, admiring the water effects on the road surface as I push closer to the floodgate.

  • Finch is equipped with a sniper rifle here, and despite being two levels lower than myself, proved to be a challenge to fight because I did not have my own long-range solution. I eventually closed the distance using the RPK to suppress him and managed to best him. For The Division, I will likely write about the game every ten levels and at other interesting milestones, and with this comment, the post comes to an end. Upcoming posts will include a talk on Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! now that we’re past the three-quarters mark, and a pair of posts on some additional content in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. In addition, Battlefield 1‘s Turning Tides DLC is releasing the first two of its new maps tomorrow, so I’m looking forwards to seeing how the new maps and weapons play out.

With the journey projected to last quite a few hours, I look forwards to seeing what The Division‘s campaign has to offer most: at the end game, I may swing by the Dark Zone to try my hand at procuring better gear for kicks, but at the end of the day, I’m largely here to dive into a world that is simultaneously intriguing and terrifying, working towards uncovering the mystery and exploring what is probably the most detailed incarnation of Manhattan in gaming. Coupled with the game’s unique UI and AR-like elements, The Division‘s campaign and atmospherics are easily its strongest points. The game is presently still being expanded upon and patched; one of the recent things I’ve heard is that some of the end-game events and activities have been modified to be more accessible for solo players, and if this proves to be true, it would be quite entertaining to come back once I’ve hit level thirty and see how I do on my own against the enemies of the Dark Zone, as well as some of the more involved challenge missions. In the meantime, it’s time to continue the campaign in The Division: it’s been great to continue on the journey that I started during the open beta.

My Heart Hurts When I Think Of You- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter Episode Three Impressions and Review

“It was space aliens, man!” –Norman “Super Spesh” Caldwell, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

With Christmas approaching, Yūna spends time with her fellow Hero Club members, watching as Fū as she studies for her exams. However, she remains troubled by her being made to bear the Mantle, and considers telling her friends, recalling the Hero Club’s fourth tenant. However, she finds herself unable to do so when she experiences a vision of the Hero Club’s members bearing the same markings as she did. Later, she tries to tell Fū, but when the phenomenon manifests again, Yūna falters. When returning home with Itsuki, Fū is hit by a vehicle and hospitalised. Yūna surmises that there’s a mechanism in play that prevents her from talking to anyone about her Mantle. Hearing Itsuki’s conversation about being with Fū and the others’ support leads Yūna to run away from home to keep her friends from worrying about her. In this week’s episode, Yūna’s response to bearing the Mantle forms the primary focus, with emphasis on how she tends to deal with her issues when on her own. Circumstances outside of her control, however, forces Yūna into a difficult position, and it is quickly shown that whatever forces are driving the world are not to be trifled with.

While normally a fierce proponent of the Hero Club’s tenants, which includes that each member should not bear burdens alone and support one another through communication, Yūna’s been backed into a corner. On one hand, she wants to tell her friends about this mark; despite difficulties in summoning the courage to do so, she tries to do so with the goal of both upholding her beliefs, as well as out of fairness to her friends. However, when misfortune befalls Fū, Yūna realises that upholding the Hero tenants might cause harm to her friends. As one of Yūna’s defining traits is an imperturbable desire to protect her friends, Yūna’s decision to run off follows from her beliefs. While easily appearing uncalculated, made off emotions on the spur of the moment to be certain, Yūna’s decision also reflects on her unwavering devotion to those she cares about. She’s backed into a difficult corner now, and consequently, is distressed, hence her choices. I remark here that this isn’t an unreasonable way of thinking. For example, I operate similarly, preferring to shoulder problems alone because I do not wish for my burdens to become someone else’s problems. However, what is relevant to the long game isn’t whether or not Yūna’s decision was a mature one, but rather, how she might mature as a response to her friends’ wishes or as the situation changes. People can and will mature over time: on my end, I will confide my problems in others if letting others know allow said problem to be solved more effectively.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • We’re now a week into December, and this means that Christmas lights are beginning to pop up everywhere. Things are beginning to feel a bit festive, although the weather’s been rather warmer than usual. While driving home from work, I was listening to a radio programme about the weather, and they were interviewing an agriculture specialist, who mentioned that for soil moisture, the spring is a bit more important. However, the impact of warmer winters can be felt, and I’m not so keen on insects surviving a mild winter.

  • Karin mounts the star onto the top of their Christmas tree in the Hero Club’s clubroom – the star at the top is meant to symbolise the star that the Three Wise Men saw over the location of Jesus’ birth. Angels and færie ornaments can stand in for the star. A family tradition of mine is that the star is mounted after all of the other ornaments and lights have been affixed to the tree, and ever since we bought an ornament with LED lights inside, unlit tree toppers look rather dull.

  • Even as the Christmas season nears, Fū remains deep in her studies as she works towards getting into a high school of her choice to make up for lost time. The last time I was this focussed on academics so close to Christmas was during my third undergraduate year: in the years following, I did not have any major finals of note during the fall term, spending most of my time on papers and projects instead. Sonoko quickly looks through Fū’s practise materials and finds that she’s scored perfect.

  • One of the things that took me some getting used to was that in Japan, circles (marujirushi) are used to denote correct answers, and check marks indicate incorrect answers. Thus, when I got my first-ever Japanese quiz back during my introductory Japanese course, I wondered why I missed every question except one: when I was learning written Chinese, circles are for incorrect answers.

  • After Mimori attempts to commit suicide out of guilt for interrupting Fū’s studies because of the Interstellar incident, she attempts to commit seppuku with a box opener, but her friends promptly stop her. Mimori’s return is a subtle one, and while it’s great to have her back, her presence isn’t particularly visible, especially now that Sonoko is an active member of the Hero Club. It suddenly strikes me that Ema Yasuhara of Shirobako greatly resembles Mimori.

  • In the weeks upcoming, Fū plans to attend Itsuki’s performance. Voiced by Tomoyo Kurosawa of Hibiki! Euphonium‘s Kumiko Oumae fame, Itsuki’s singing voice is remarkably cathartic, and she has since become more confident since the first season with her singing prowess. In Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Itsuki sounds nothing like Kumiko, who speaks with a more earnest and hesitant voice reminiscent of Akari Shinohara’s voice, attesting to Kurosawa’s skill. With this in mind, Kurosawa hasn’t appeared in very many anime.

  • Karin’s fond of unusual supplements and attempts pushing some on Itsuki, who grows a bit nervous when the others ask her to remain in good health. I believe that close to this time last year, I developed a cold and unintentionally took out the entire office when I got sick: the colder weather affects the respiratory system and weakens the immune system. In addition, winter weather drives people into closer proximity to one another, allowing pathogens to propagate more rapidly. Health supplements can have a positive impact on health, but their intake must be regulated, as they can have contraindicative effects.

  • Mid-proceedings, Yūna spaces out, and this does not go unnoticed: befitting of the Club president, Fū is remarkably perceptive and asks Yūna what’s wrong. Sonoko and Mimori, their efforts concentrated on Itsuki moments earlier, begin focussing their efforts on Yūna. While done primarily for comedy, these moments serve to remind audiences that Yūna is feeling at unease ever since the black curse mark appeared on her body. While I’ve seen it referred to as “duty” or counted as a “curse”, I’m going to call it a Mantle after Halo‘s Mantle of Responsibility.

  • The story of how Halo‘s Mantle came to be will be left as an exercise for another time; back in Hero Chapter, Yūna finds herself compelled to share with the others the fact that she’s been marked with the Mantle, and despite her hesitation, her commitment to the Hero Club’s tenants means she begins to try and articulate her concerns. However, Yūna begins having difficulty coherently explaining her situation, and she ultimately botches things, presenting a riddle of sorts with neither head or tail.

  • Later during the evening, Yūna watches a conversation unfolding with her friends surrounding Christmas, with Mimori complaining about its foreign nature. A nationalist through and through, Mimori embodies all things Japanese, and being from Canada, I’m quite unaccustomed to nationalism as seen elsewhere in the world – for me, nationalism in Canada is a respect for multiculturalism. While her friends are engaged in talk, Yūna feels that it’s quite unnecessary and unfair for her to trouble them with her concerns.

  • While Yūna’s concern for those around her is admirable, she also stands to trouble them a great deal by withholding her situation. Whether or not one should be open about their troubles is largely a situation-dependent decision; my own experience suggest that the best choice is determined by the the severity of the situation and the costs of inaction against action. In other words, if I feel that I can have a situation under control, I will not likely mention it to others and solve it myself: it is my responsibility to take care of that situation. However, if my situation may negatively impact others if I attempt to handle it myself, then I will share my concerns so that a solution may be worked out for the benefit of the group.

  • Yūna’s friends each reveal that minor misfortune has befallen them: Mimori’s power went out, Karin’s noticed that the heater’s gone cold, Itsuki accidentally left her keys at home, leaving her and Fū locked out, and Sonoko burned herself on the kettle. Yūna begins wondering if her act of trying to let the others know might have influenced this turn of events, her mind flashing back to a vision of the others bearing the same markings that she’s got. On the topic of misfortune, I’ve picked up Anne Happy! and have made my way through nine episodes since Monday.

  • Later, Yūna tries to let Fū know what’s really on her mind, but stumbles again when she sees Fū with the same symbol. Fū’s intuition is off here, and while she’s likely spot on that Mimori will likely become a green-eyed monster if Yūna should ever enter a relationship with anyone, she’s unable to spot that Yūna’s not being entirely truthful. The presentation of imagery suggests that an external force, possibly the shinju, is acting on her, rather than entirely on internal reservations on Yūna’s part.

  • While discussing their plans for the upcoming week, during which Fū’s anticipation for Itsuki’s performance is quite tangible, a rogue vehicle appears and injures Fū. It’s a sudden turn of events that was earlier foreshadowed by the mishaps everyone experienced after Yūna attempted to tell them, and since she came closer to telling Fū than anyone else, it seems that Fū’s punishment was more severe. That the Shinju can be this precise in dealing out judgement further reinforces the idea that Yūki Yūna might be set in a simulated reality or another dimension.

  • This motivates the page quote, sourced from one of the most hilarious lines in all of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus from my favourite character. Space aliens and simulated reality could likely provide a satisfactory account of why Yūna’s world is the way it is. Of course, as I am counted as somewhat of a heretic amongst folks who are more familiar with Yūki Yūna, I doubt this particular brand of speculation will gain too much momentum. When Yūna learns of Fū’s accident, she is devastated, and her theory is seemingly confirmed: more so than conflicts within her own beliefs, Yūna feels that she’s now got no one to share her problems with.

  • Despite her injuries, Fū seems to be in fine spirits and is concerned with missing important events during this time of year more than anything. Upon leaving the hospital, Karin and Mimori share an emotionally charged conversation; Mimori has gone postal before when faced with extreme situations before, and I wouldn’t put it past writers to have her go ballistic if her friends are injured.

  • The interactions between Fū and Itsuki greatly mirror those of Nina and Nono from Urara Meirocho; the sisters share a conversation where Itsuki promises to look after Fū, and later, Karin, Mimori and Sonoko make to visit Fū decked out in Christmas hats to bring a little bit of the festive cheer to Fū. Yūna is absent and missed; she had overhears Fū and Itsuki’s conversation earlier and became overcome with emotion. Sonoko later finds an indicator that Yūna was there.

  • While Yūna struggles to deal with her internal conflicts, a representative of the Taisha appears at her residence. The sudden turn of events have left some viewers unable to pass judgement with the same decisiveness as they did previously, and I remark that, had Yūna really been the kind of character that some folks have counted her as, then the entire series would have been more appropriately called Yūki Yūna is an Asshole. This clearly isn’t the case, so another solution will need to be worked out, and in the meantime, I’m curious to see just how close or off the mark speculation is going to be.

  • If there’s one aspect in Yūki Yūna is a Hero that I’m sure all audience members can agree on, it’s likely that the facial expressions in this series take things to an entirely new level of existence. While running out in the cold, Yūna trips, falls into the snow and finally is overtaken with emotion. Her sobs are heart-wrenchingly painful to hear, mirroring the extent of the conflict within her. While conversations largely suggest that Yūna’s between a rock and a hard place now, I think that there’s one more option to explore before all hope fades: that Taisha representative who’s come to call at the Yūki residence.

  • Unexpected in many ways, the third episode ups the ante, and I’m rather curious to see how the narrative will proceed now. This brings my third episode post to an end, and since DICE’s idea of a challenge this week is to get a hundred vehicle kills for a super-rare tank skin, I think I’m going to sit this one out. Instead, I’ll be aiming to get my Christmas shopping done this weekend, and then look forwards to a Christmas break that’s one part festive and one part quiet (provided that my Hero Chapter posts haven’t been so sacrilegious that people will write me hate mail).

We’ve crossed the halfway point for Hero Chapter at this point, and the condensed timeframe means that Hero Chapter has dispensed largely with the cathartic slice-of-life elements in favour of moments fraught with emotions. This particular aspect seems to work against Hero Chapter, since some progression is made to occur much more rapidly, giving audiences less time to take in what’s occurring. In other words, folks will feel that things are becoming a bit more forceful than natural. With this being said, it is apparent that Hero Chapter‘s focus will be on the characters’ journeys, especially that of Yūna’s, rather than any world-building related elements. This is not unexpected, given the series’ focus on character building in its stead, and given this is Hero Chapter‘s direction, my expectations as we advance beyond the halfway point for Hero Chapter is that whatever tribulations await Yūna and the others, the destination that is reached should be consistent with the path they’ve tread on so far. This is to say, if Yūna and the others are doomed to suffer, then this path must be evident in the upcoming episodes and should not come out of the blue, and similarly, if Yūna and her friends are to be graced with a happy ending, then they must have earned it to some capacity through their actions, rather than exploiting any loopholes in their teenyverse (alternatively, microverse or miniverse).

Important Memories- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter Episode Two Impressions and Review

“If a black hole is an oyster, then the singularity is the pearl inside. The gravity is so strong, it’s always hidden in darkness beyond the horizon. That’s why we call it a black hole.” —Romilly, Interstellar

It turns out that even the Taisha‘s recollections of Mimori have been removed; Sonoko relays this to the other Hero Club members and also provides them with their smartphones. Having spoken with the Taisha themselves, Sonoko has deduced that Mimori might be beyond the barrier, and is encouraged to begin looking for Mimori out here. While Fū expresses concern with the Hero System, Sonoko explains that the new system makes use of a fully-charged mankai reserve that depletes during combat if the Heroes sustain damage. Engaging the mankai system will fully deplete reserves and also render the Hero vulnerable to attack, but in exchange, Heroes no longer lose body functions when the mankai system is used. Heartened that the Taisha have been a bit more forward about the Hero System’s operating limits, Yūna decides to join Sonoko. The entire Hero Club subsequently activate their Hero Systems and enter the barrier, where they find a black hole-like entity as the source of Mimori’s signal. Sonoko engages her mankai and carries her teammates to this portal – Yūna soldiers forward into the portal and the extremities cause her body and spirit to separate. Past the event horizon, Yūna finds Mimori here, along with her memories and learns that Mimori intended to become a sacrifice to atone for putting a hole in the barrier, endangering their world. Against risk of damage to her mind and body, Yūna retrieves Mimori. She reawakens to the sight of her friends, and Sonoko informs her that the Taisha have since managed to stablise the situation, removing the need for a sacrifice. Yūna later learns that she’s inherited the curse mark from Mimori.

The shortened timeframe of Hero Chapter corresponds with a much quicker pacing, and in the second episode, the cheerful atmosphere seen in the first episode is largely replaced with a grim determination when Yūna and the others resolve to bring Mimori back. Here, the Hero System is explored to a slightly greater extent, illustrating the vulnerabilities and limitations more fully, suggesting that the Taisha have learned after two iterations. The newer system removes invulnerability and is probably the most fair: Heroes die if they fight too aggressively, but engaging the mankai no longer comes at a terrible cost. With the episode’s focus on recovering Mimori, it would seem that Mimori’s old habit of reaching a decision has not changed, and similarly, Yūna is as headstrong as she’s always been. That she succeeds in bringing Mimori back this early in the game suggests that, in conjunction with Yūna being marked for sacrifice, suggests that Hero Chapter is heading in a direction where Yūna will find herself requiring help from her friends, or else see the Hero Club take on a new opponent. Of course, folks with a more substantial background in Yūki Yūna is a Hero will likely have more to add to discussion and correspondingly, a better guess of what’s to happen, but I’m approaching this one from a naïve position. As such, what I will be looking to see, as Hero Chapter continues, is how well the anime stands on its own from a thematic perspective.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • That the girls manage to retain some memories of Mimori despite the higher powers modifying them indicate that memory modification is not fully effective even with their god-like capabilities. In Harry Potter, the memory charm shares similar limitations – although quite effective for the most part, Voldemort has defeated a memory charm through use of the Cruciatus curse. Like all of my upcoming talks on Hero Chapter, this post will feature the standard of twenty images.

  • Before we proceed any further with my talk on Hero Chapter, I note that I’m not fully caught up with or familiar with all of the supplementary materials out there on Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and as such, I will be basing most of my discussions from purely the perspective of someone who’s only seen the anime. Discussions of Hero Chapter have seen folks begin trying to piece together what the additional materials have stated, and it seems to be a tricky exercise from what I’ve seen so far: even people who have this additional intel don’t seem to have a particular leg up on figuring out what’s what.

  • Because I’m hearing what appear to be inconsistencies in the supplementary documentation, going in blind isn’t always a bad thing, and I’m free to draw cleaner conclusions based purely on what I’ve seen in the anime. During the transformation process, Sonoko explains the rules underlying the new mankai system are. Compared to the previous iterations, the one seen in Hero Chapter is more similar to that of a balanced system: Heroes can activate their mankai at will provided they are at full charge, while sustaining damage will deplete their charge. Engaging mankai completely drains their power and leaves them vulnerable to attack.

  • Hero Chapter does not detail whether or not energy is regenerated in between battles, but Sonoko notes that this is not possible while the girls are in their Hero modes. Sonoko’s new transformation is seen, and it’s rendered with more detail than those of the other girls’. Of all the transformations, I still maintain that Mimori’s is the most entertaining to watch: all of the others are clean and to the point, with each Hero applying her unique personality to the transformation process.

  • Karin’s resemblance to Gin is quite pronounced now that I’ve seen Washio Sumi Chapter, a consequence of her inheriting Gin’s terminal and role. At the start of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, I was not particularly fond of her character – she reminded me of Puella Magi Madoka Magica‘s Kyōko Sakura in manner, but like Kyōko, I warmed up to Karin over time. It’s quite nice of the anime to provide a single frame with all the heroes, otherwise, I’d likely be forced to use more screenshots (and expend more time in captioning these) to showcase all of the heroes.

  • When I saw Urara Meirocho‘s Nono and Nina, I was respectively reminded of Itsuki and Fū. The current description of how the Hero System works provides a set of rules and restrictions that make sense from a balance perspective: Heroes must choose between offensive firepower and defense, as picking the former would almost certainly result in death if one were careless, as mankai would leave the Hero subsequently exposed to enemy attack.

  • The second episode of Hero Chapter thus marks the first time in the sequel where the Heroes have transformed and gain access to their familiars, which act as their guardians. Different familiars have different personality traits, but all of them are present to prevent any harm from coming to the Heroes. Here, Fū shares a moment with her familiar, who makes it clear that she’s been missed.

  • The Heroes head towards their destination, a wall at the edge of their world, under fantastically blue skies. The weather today was similarly pleasant, and on this first day of December, I stepped out into the cool afternoon to grab a poutine: this variation had Italian sausage, double-smoked bacon, mushrooms and sautéed onions. Mushrooms and onions add a different taste and texture that stand out: they’re excellent as poutine toppings, and it took a bit of eating through the toppings to reach the fries, cheese and gravy below. Hearty and tasty, it was a fine accompaniment to this week’s Hero Chapter episode. It’s proven to be a warm December so far (I say with only a sample size of one day so far).

  • The fact that the world in Yūki Yūna is a Hero consists of a seemingly normal world protected by a barrier, existing inside a veritable Hell, leads me to cast doubt on the “realness” of their world. In The Matrix, I’ve always wondered how the world works, given that characters only refer to geographical locations as “the City” or “the mountains”, implying that there is only one city or one area with mountains. Citizens remain quite unaware of this fact and go about their everyday lives normally in The Matrix, and it is reasoned that the Machines keep their world in this equilibrium to keep the population under control. The limited world space and a clearly defined edge is one possible indicator that Yūna’s universe is a simulated reality.

  • There is a counterargument against whether or not the world as we know it is a simulation: a civilisation would need to be exceptionally advanced in order to simulate a reality. Civilisations would then either have destroyed themselves or have been destroyed before they reach this stage. If they managed to advance to the point where whole-reality simulation is possible, their computational capability would far outstrip anything else that we can fathom, and presumably, they would not direct the resources towards seeing how a simulated civilisation might develop in favour of other pursits. Back in Hero Chapter, Karin compliments Sonoko on her fighting prowess; she’s lost none of her edge and is quite formidable against the Vertex. In this second episode, the Vertex appear as the smaller infection form-like units see towards the end of Yūki Yūna is a Hero and Washio Sumi Chapter.

  • While the Vertex present a degree of challenge for the Heroes, Sonoko decides to activate her mankai, providing the Heroes with a vessel of sorts that lets them sail towards the “black hole” where Mimori’s signal is emanating from. With this new system, I imagine that team work would very quickly become a necessity for Heroes; some Heroes would immediately engage and rapidly decimate enemy ranks, while other Heroes would provide covering fire for both them and any Heroes they wish to reserve as an ace-in-the-hole. Whether or not we will see this sort of teamwork dynamic in Hero Chapter remains unknown for the present.

  • The Heroes’ description of the object where Mimori’s signal is coming from is that of a black hole, and as they close the distance, it is possible to see the resemblance between this structure and Interstellar‘s Gargantua. While Hero Chapter did not have theoretical physicist Kip Thorne on board to provide guidance on what black holes might look like from closer up, physical cosmology is definitely not the focus of things in Hero Chapter and as such, would be counted as being outside the scope of discussion. With this in mind, the “black hole” in Hero Chapter is “similar enough” to Gargantua so that one cannot reasonably say that it is an incorrect depiction.

  • After Sonoko brings Yūna close enough to the portal while her friends fend off attacking Vertex, Yūna hops off and falls into the “event horizon”, where tidal forces place a severe strain on her shields, causing them to deplete. Before they completely run out, Yūna manages to cross the event horizon and enters the space where Mimori was seen in the previous episode. She finds herself under assault from an unknown entity (or entities), and shortly after, her spirit separates from her body.

  • In this state, Yūna manages to intercept Mimori’s memories, learning about how Mimori’s status allowed her to fulfil the role of both Hero and a shrine maiden who could be sacrificed to save their world. Mimori walks into the decision without consulting with her friends, and it turns out that she made the request to the Shinju directly to remove her friends’ memories of her so that they wouldn’t attempt to save her from her fate.

  • Given that Yūna and the others do remember, it seems that even the Shinju has limitations, rather similar to how the Matrix itself was limited by the fact that it was a system built on rules and as such, in the knowledge that the world was not real, rebels could perform superhuman feats. Presumably, Yūna and the others are aware to some extent that their world is a fabrication, allowing them to override some of the rules the Shinji have defined within their world.

  • Hero Chapter has so far left me with more questions than answer, and with its run limited to six episodes, there’s not a whole lot of real estate with which to properly explore what the Shinju and Taisha are about. I’m at a crossroads with respect to Hero Chapter: on one hand, the character dynamics have largely been Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s main strength, but on the other, world-building would serve to improve audience understanding on what it is Yūna and the others are fighting for, making it easier to empathise with and root for them.

  • On sheer willpower alone, Yūna fights off excruciating pain and manages to pull Mimori from the mirror she’s held in. In doing so, she frees Mimori from her fate and inadvertently takes on this responsibility for herself, visually represented with the dead-looking black crystals fading from Mimori as Yūna’s body is covered in a glowing red light. The mirror-like object shatters and the portal disintegrates, allowing the others to recover both Yūna and Mimori. Presumably, this means that viewers will be able to see Mimori’s transformation sequences once again in all of their glory.

  • When Mimori comes to, it’s to the faces of her best friends. Relieved she’s alright, Sonoko explains to Mimori that the breach has been contained, and given the seeming ease in which this particular problem was resolved, the fact that it’s still early in the season means that there will certainly be a new disruption that follows. Perusing other discussions, I’ve heard Yūna is special the same way Reina Kousaka of Hibike! Euphonium is special: more specifically, Yūna is supposed to be this universe’s version of the Avatar, but instead of being able to bend all four elements, these individuals (dubbed “Yūna”) possess the a bit of the god’s powers. What this entails might be seen later in Hero Chapter.

  • With the Hero Club reunited in full since Hero Chapter began, Mimori is immensely grateful that everyone managed to remember her, and Fū remarks that each member of the club should share with one another any thoughts or concerns that they might have. Yūna’s mind immediately returns to letting the good times roll, but as the episode draws to a close, Yūna finds that she’s picked up the same curse mark that Mimori had. Some folks are quick to brand Yūna as a hypocrite for supposedly not informing the others of her situation despite having said for the group to share their troubles, but this is evidently a misinterpretation: Yūna only discovers it after she gets home and it was Fū who makes this statement, not Yūna.

  • I’m going to hazard a guess and say that this isn’t like the blackened toenail I’ve developed as a consequence of hiking a little too enthusiastically. This brings my talk to a close, and while those same folks making all of their assertions might tell me to git gud (apparently, this phrase all the rage these days and has nothing to do with GIT version control) by reading more, I remark that that’s not happening this weekend. DICE has given players a diabolical challenge for Battlefield 1 players: “get 300 shotgun kills before December 3 ends”. This unlocks the coup coup machete. At the time of writing, I’ve gotten 128 of the required 300, and foresee spending the rest of the weekend trying to get the remaining 172. This means all plans to play The Division and wrapping up Wolfenstein II‘s Übercommander missions will have to be shelved for now.

If Hero Chapter is structured similarly to Washio Sumi Chapter, then the remaining structure of Hero Chapter is reasonably straightforward: the upcoming episode would likely be a bit more lighthearted in nature to begin with, and things would gradually become more serious in the episodes leading up to the finale. This is the nature of the beast in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and while it is likely that world-building is likely to be eschewed in favour of the abrupt swings between gentle everyday life and heart-wrenching moments amidst the chaos and madness of battle. With this being said, Yūki Yūna is a Hero tends to bring characters to the brink before invoking some form of deus ex machina to drive a happy ending: it’s still early to be considering whether or not this route will be taken. In the meantime, it looks like I will have to delve into the supplementary materials to learn more about the world in Yūki Yūna is a Hero if I do intend to do a more serious, less irreverent discussion. My lack of knowledge with the actual mechanics in their universe aside, this isn’t likely stopping me from speculating that Yūki Yūna is a Hero is set inside a simulated reality like that of The Matrix, or better yet, the Teenyverse as seen in Rick and Morty, which, if we assume to be true, would eliminate all of the complexity surrounding whatever rituals and entities that are present in Yūki Yūna is a Hero.

Enter The Matrix Review and Reflection

“All I’ve ever asked from this world is that when it’s my time, let it be for something, and not of something.” –Ghost

Released in May 2003, Enter The Matrix was developed by Shiny Entertainment and intended to line up with the release of The Matrix Reloaded, providing further exposition for the events of the film. After Ghost and Niobe retrieve a package containing a message from Zion that provides information about an impending Machine attack. They coordinate a meeting, but first, stop the Agents from moving Axel at the airport. The captains of each Zion ship meet to discuss the best course of action in the Matrix’s sewers, but when Agents interrupt the meeting, the rebels escape into the sewers. Niobe and Ghost move through the sewers and manage to escape, assisting other rebels along the way. They encounter the Keymaker, who saves them from an Agent and reveals that Neo must be given a special key. However, Cain and Abel make off with the key; Ghost and Niobe pursue the two into the Merovingian’s Chateau and recover the key. They later join in on the Freeway chase to assist Morpheus, and agree to destroy the power plant after the Keymaker reveals Neo’s path. Niobe and Ghost later receive a request from the Oracle, and after their conversation, must fight off the hordes of Agent Smiths, making their way down a half-constructed office tower and through Chinatown. Escaping back into the real world, Niobe pilots the Logos through the tunnels of the real while Ghost holds off the sentinels long enough for the Logos to use its EMP against them. Long considered to be an incomplete game and an attempt to cash in on the Matrix brand, Enter The Matrix nonetheless remains a fantastic game in my books for being able to augment on The Matrix Reloaded‘s events.

The biggest strength in Enter The Matrix is the game’s ability to capture the atmosphere of The Matrix, allowing players to fight inside The Matrix to very nearly the same extent that was seen in the movies. In doing so, players would become immersed in a fully-fledged experience that gave the same sense of exhilaration that Neo first experienced upon understanding what the Matrix is – the gameplay in Enter The Matrix is surprisingly sophisticated, giving players plenty of martial arts options against their opponents. Using a context-based system, Enter The Matrix captures the intricacies of fighting in the movies to give the sense that players have entered the Matrix. Supplementing the complex and fully-fledged fighting system is a diverse arsenal of weapons, ranging from sidearms to anti-materiel rifles that, in conjunction with bullet time, enables players to survive even the most unfavourable situations. Featuring complete cutscenes directed by the Wachowski brothers, Enter The Matrix adds over an hour of new live-action footage that augments the experience conferred by The Matrix Reloaded. The sum of these elements together make Enter The Matrix a superb game that is the perfect companion to The Matrix Reloaded; while the mechanics and visuals have not withstood the test of time, the game still handles quite well and is a thrill to play. Enter The Matrix is about the closest one can get to emulating the badass feats seen within the Matrix films, and this is a game that does a remarkably good job of bringing this experience to life.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The first thing to note is that screenshots from Enter The Matrix will appear much darker than those from other games. Most of the events in Enter The Matrix are set at night or in large interiors, with the exception of a few missions. The first mission involves visiting a central post office to recover a package from the Osiris. Enemies in this mission are lightly armed, with only the .380 Colt Mustang, the weakest sidearm in the game. By default, Ghost is equipped with a pair of P229 Sig Sauer pistols.

  • Most of the enemies in the post office are weak enough so that they can be dealt with using martial arts alone; this is the perfect time to become familiarised with the fighting system in Enter the Matrix: standard attacks consist of kicks and punches, as well as throws. However, additional commands and contexts allow Ghost and Niobe to execute more complex moves, while the use of Focus allow them to hit harder and move faster than normal.

  • Focus is a limited and powerful asset: the consequence of being aware of the truth, its effects in Enter The Matrix are to slow time down, allowing players to dodge bullets, run on walls, and jump greater distances. Here, I’ve managed to find the package and are engaging in Enter The Matrix‘s equivalent of The Matrix‘s lobby shootout. I may not have the M-16 or 870 MCS, but the MP5 and Colt RO635 9mm SMG, in conjunction with focus, are more than enough to deal with the cops that come into the lobby. A subtle but clever touch is that shooting at the columns will cause their marble cladding to become damage and come off, as seen in The Matrix.

  • The music in Enter the Matrix is solid, conveying a sense of urgency as players make their way across the city rooftops to the hard line, the way out of the Matrix. Despite the game’s low texture resolution and primitive lighting, there’s a charm about the graphics that make Enter the Matrix a distinct instalment in The Matrix.

  • The airport mission is one of my favourites in the game for the level design and set pieces. Police SWAT units become introduced here, and they’re more powerful adversaries than the cops seen in the previous missions, being armed with superior equipment and armour. The best tactic for dealing with them is to close the distance using Focus and disarming them, then beating the tar out of them using martial arts. Notice the Pentium IV advertisement on the wall to the left: computer processors have advanced to the point where the i5 inside my MacBook Pro is upwards of 300 percent more powerful than the fastest Pentium IV processors of the day.

  • The fight against the SWAT helicopter represents the first boss fight of the game, occasionally dropping SWAT units to fight players. The best trick for beating it is to use Focus and aim slightly above the SWAT helicopter using the MP5. MP5 ammunition can be replenished from attacking SWAT units. Once the helicopter is downed, players enter the monorail tunnels and will encounter the armoured military SWAT, the second-most lethal enemies in the games only to the Agents. Attacking them with weapons is usually a waste of ammunition, but martial arts will work well against them.

  • The revolving restaurant section of the airport requires a bit of patience, and once all enemies are cleared, the goal is to climb on top a piano and wait for the ladder to swing around. I’ve been to several revolving restaurants in my time, including the one in the Calgary Tower and CN Tower (brunch at the former, and a spaghetti dinner at the latter); they’re usually placed in towers so patrons have a nice view of their surroundings as they enjoy their meals, but the location at an airport is less likely to provide good scenery.

  • The Barrett M82A1 .50-calibre anti-materiel rifle is the single most powerful weapon in Enter the Matrix, being able to neutralise any enemy with one headshot. It is used for an incredibly long-range shot against the private jet that’s carrying Axel to take the tire out and prevent it from taking off. Unlike its real-world equivalent, the M82A1 in Enter the Matrix is mislabeled as the M95 and has an eighteen-round magazine, which doesn’t make much sense considering the size of each bullet; the real M95 is a bullpup rifle.

  • One of the SWAt will drop an SG-552 rifle, which is probably the best all-around gun in Enter the Matrix. Blessed with a high firing rate, pinpoint accuracy, high damage and a large magazine, the weapon is completely inaccurate against its real-world counterpart – the SG-552 is the carbine form of the SG-550 assault rifle and is chambered for the 5.56 mm NATO round. However, in Enter the Matrix, it is so powerful it can blow the Agent helicopter apart on very short order. The PC controls are a bit stiff, so it took me a bit longer to move into position and open fire.

  • Aside from the airport, the sewers were also a fun set of missions, giving a sense of just how labyrinthine the sewers of the Matrix are. The close quarters environments in the sewer tunnels make the Mossberg 590 (known as the Entry Shotgun in-game) a viable option: the high damage makes it well-suited for encounters with Sewer SWAT, which are second only to the armoured military SWAT in lethality.

  • The sewers are relatively linear, but there are a few places where some ancient machinery must be destroyed to allow progress, or else similarities in the scenery make it easy to get lost. There are some sections in the sewer that have impressive design: the sub-section of the level “Breathing Room” takes players through a room filled with large fans on a platform over a deep passageway. The fans can be shot at and destroyed.

  • Enter the Matrix was the first game I played that involved a large sewer system possibly surpassing Tokyo’s G-Cans system (known formally as the “Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel”). Since then, games like Metro and Wolfenstein II have come close to replicating the experience, but there’s no substitute for the original.

  • This is one of the few places in Enter the Matrix where it’s possible to use the M16A2 rifle, a good all-around weapon that hits harder than the MP5. There is the option to dual-wield weapons, as well: doubling the firepower of weaker weapons, it’s called “two fisting” in Enter the Matrix, and while I referred to the simultaneous use of two weapons as such after playing Enter the MatrixHalo would lead me to call the process “dual wielding” – “two fisting” apparently refers to the practise of holding an alcoholic beverage in each hand, and in gaming, quickly fell out of usage in favour of “dual wielding”.

  • During the trek through the sewers, players must defend fellow Rebels against hostile forces, and allowing any of them to die will result in an instant game over. The mission itself doesn’t depict the foggy caverns of the sewers seen in the preview image for Malachi and Bane, a sniper mission where players are provided with the HK33, an assault rifle fitted with a heavy barrel, bipod and sniper optics to act as a marksman rifle. Using Focus makes it much easier to hit difficult targets before they can damage the rebels.

  • If one were to click on these screenshots and look at the dates, they would find that most of them actually date back to 2015: at this point in time, I was entering my second year of graduate school and during the autumn term, had no classes, allowing me to focus entirely on my thesis paper (I’d already finished off most of the implementation to my project during the summer). As such, I had a bit more free time than previously, and spent some of that time gaming. Of course, procrastination is why I did not write about Enter the Matrix earlier.

  • The Chateau mission entails a new gameplay style: inhabited by the Merovingian’s vampires and dobermen, enemies here can only be killed by driving a wooden stake through them after melee combat. Players will also find a crossbow for launching wooden bolts, but these are quite rare, making it imperative to save them for boss fights. Firearms in this mission are ineffectual for permanently stopping vampires and dobermen, but they can be used to buy some space.

  • The stairwell where Enter the Matrix‘s infamous Chateau fight happens has been replicated in full and in fantastic detail, but unlike the film, there’s no fighting here. Instead, players will enter the Chateau’s basement for a fight with Cujo, head of the dobermen. Once beaten, players move towards finding the Keymaker and also encounter Cain and Abel, two exiles who will continue to malign players unless kicked against the prison cells, where prisoners will hold on to them and buy players enough time to make their way out of the level. A vehicle chase involving the Twins soon follows: I’ve chosen not to depict any of the vehicular levels in this post: while immensely fun (Ghost has an MP5 that can turn any vehicle into a pile of flaming wreckage in seconds), the PC version has a few graphical bugs.

  • If Enter the Matrix was to be redone in a modern game engine like Frostbite 3 or even The Division‘s Snowdrop engine, it would definitely bring the Matrix to life. Such a game would keep the narrative and two campaigns as in the original, but levels could be redesigned to be even more immersive, making full use of modern rendering and visuals to really capture environments within the Matrix. If such a game did come out, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Of course, they’d have to fix the weapons so they’re more faithful to their real-world counterparts and add better bonus arena modes, but other than that, it’d be a title worth playing through again.

  • Apparently, the transformer field was the toughest level in Enter the Matrix; the close quarters maze and swarms of SWAT units made it easy to make a wrong turn and die. However, players also are provided with a halo-alkane launcher, which fires canisters of oxygen-depriving gases that are ostensibly used for firefighting but also asphyxiates anyone who breathes the gas in. It’s highly effective, and in conjunction with the Striker shotgun (called the Street Sweeper in-game), allows careful players to pick their way through this labyrinth. Following the goal tracker is essential, as is backing up if lost.

  • The nuclear waste sector was one of my favourite parts of Enter the Matrix, being filled with bottomless chasms and massive fuel tanks that go off with a large explosion when shot. Here, I’m wielding the G36 with a beta-C drum magazine. The weapon is rare, but quite effective: it’s second only to the SG-552 in terms of effectiveness and the strategy guide suggests that its lower rate of fire allows it to be more efficient with ammunition. The cover system in Enter the Matrix was a bit tricky to use, so I ended up making extensive use of Focus to get through most parts; if Enter the Matrix were ever to be remastered, the cover system should also be improved slightly.

  • Ghost will need to provide covering fire for Niobe once he reaches the control room, fighting off waves of SWAT units. This mission is quite demanding, forcing players to switch from the role of being a precise sniper to a close-quarters brawler, and the UMP-45, which was near-useless in the Chateau mission, is actually quite good for dealing with SWAT units here. Eventually, Niobe will reach the top of the reactor and prepare the bomb that will blow the nuclear power plant to pieces to facilitate Neo’s meeting with the Architect.

  • I’ve seen a lot of complaints from contemporary reviewers and conformists from Tango-Victor-Tango that the game is really an unfinished beta. Interviews with the staff reveal that the game was indeed rushed into deployment in order to coincide with The Matrix Reloaded‘s theatrical première, and while I concede that textures in some part of the game are plainly placeholders, such as the muzzle on the HK33. However, I’ve never gotten stuck on walls or run into any collision detection issues on my end despite having completed the game on at least five different occasions.

  • Even if the game was rushed, it’s evident that a great deal of effort was directed towards making the game as authentic to the Matrix as possible: interviews with the developers and Anthony Wong, who plays Ghost, shows this effort, which I definitely appreciate. Here, I fight an Agent and are tasked with killing him in order to buy enough time to escape – Agents can only be killed in special circumstances, and here, the Agent is defeated by kicking him into a server cluster, electrocuting him. Agents normally cannot be defeated and will make short work of Ghost and Niobe, but in the City Rooftops level, I’ve managed to kill an agent by kicking him off the side of a ledge.

  • Like Neo, who must fight Seraph to gain an audience with the Oracle, players must also prove their worth by defeating Seraph. This fight represents a turning point in the game: if players succeed, they will meet the Oracle and learn more about what’s to come, while failing that will send them back to the Logos. Of course, I wasn’t content to miss out on a few missions, so I sparred Seraph with a high intensity and managed to beat him.

  • The last two missions of Enter the Matrix have players escaping from Agent Smith after speaking with the Oracle. Ghost narrowly manages to escape the Industrial Hallway and into a half-built skyscraper: Agent Smith presented a challenge even to Neo in The Matrix Reloaded, so there’s not a ghost of a chance that Ghost can fight Agent Smith on even footing. The only focus is to keep running, following the goal tracker until the end of the level is reached.

  • The last mission is set in Chinatown, and there’s a siu aap (roast duck) shop visible on the left. Chinatowns, or districts with a high population of Han Chinese are located around the world; the oldest Chinatown is located in Manila in the Philippines, and the Chinatown back home is largest in the province, featuring the continent’s largest Cultural Centre. I visit every weekend, since my dojo is here, and there are some specialty shops in the area. While folks I know go to Chinatown for the dim sum, the best places are actually located outside of Chinatown.

  • Besides police officiers, the other enemy in this level as Agent Smith. Players will pick up the Milkor MGL, a 40mm grenade launcher that deals massive damage. It only appears here, can kill players if they’re careless and appears a bit too late to be useful against the armoured military SWAT seen earlier. However, against the hordes of Agent Smiths relentlessly pursuing players, it can be used to buy some breathing room.

  • My first desktop computer had a 600 MHz AMD Model 3 Spitfire processor with 64 MB of RAM and 15 GB of hard drive space. Enter the Matrix required a minimum 800 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM and 4.3 GB of storage, recommending at least a 1.2 GHz processor and 256 MB of RAM in conjunction with 64 MB of dedicated graphics memory. As such, I stuck with the GameCube version of Enter the Matrix initially, but since then, I’ve upgraded computers several times, allowing me to go through the PC version.

  • Of course, uninstalling the game would allow me to save 4.3 GB of space, but on today’s hard drive, 4.3 GB isn’t too much to worry about, and as time permits, I should go back and beat the Niobe campaign, as well. The end goal of the Chinatown mission is to reach the church in the distance, where the hard line is located. This allows red-pills to exit the Matrix, and while rebels will disappear once out, the game doesn’t depict this process.

  • The last mission for Ghost involves shooting at Sentinels while Niobe pilots the Logos deep into the tunnels of the real. It’s actually quite dull, and before long, the Sentinels will spawn a tow bomb. Keeping it at bay with the Logos’ guns will end the mission and the campaign. While I would love to recommend Enter the Matrix, chances are that the game’s going to be quite difficult to find now. I’ve heard rumours of a Matrix film is in the works, and while there’s been very little information on the project since rumours began circulating in March this year, if it results in a new game being made, players may finally have a Matrix game made with modern-era technology. For now, though, this brings my reflections of Enter the Matrix to a close.

The biggest draw about Enter The Matrix was its ability to really immerse players in the Matrix universe. Whether it be the gun-fu, bullet-time combat or setpieces, the game has definitely recreated the atmosphere and tenour seen within the Matrix. The game has no shortage of content, featuring two full campaign missions, in conjunction with a hacking game that lets players learn more about the Matrix universe and even modify the way the game itself plays. I first played through Enter The Matrix on a GameCube during summer break years back; I initially had the PC version, but lacked a PC with the requirements to run the game. The title impressed me, and I developed a stronger interest in the Matrix, as well as its philosophical underpinnings about reality, existence, and yin and yang. Few works have since succeeded in leading me to contemplate these things, and subsequently, when I built a more powerful PC, the time had come to give the game another go. It’s definitely aged from a mechanical and technical perspective, but besides itself, there are only two other games: The Matrix Online, and The Path Of Neo. Of these games, The Matrix Online is no longer playable since the servers shut down, and The Path of Neo lacks the same finesse and polish from what I’ve seen. That leaves Enter The Matrix, and from a personal perspective, it’s the definitive Matrix game to experience.