The prospect of Next-Gen fidelity has been exclusively focused on resolution and refresh rate in the last 10 years – very few games pushed boundaries beyond that with actual graphical leaps; developers like Naughty Dog with Uncharted 4 took several steps forward in upping the graphical properties from environmental designs, physical based rendering, character model, GPU accelerated particles, advanced character rigging/animations, ambient occlusion with light bouncing and more.
The work they put into their projects has rarely been reflected beyond games like The Last of Us Part II and God of War 2018. But, one engine that seemingly pushes our technical limitations manages to create surreal, real-time elements while also being playable – Unreal Engine 5. With this comes a promotional digital content, The Matrix Awakens, where all of the technology we’d expect for a next generational leap is all packaged in this digital showcase.
Presentation is Key
The Matrix Ressurection is releasing soon in theaters and HBO Max – so of course there’s promotions happening. But, this tech demo done through Unreal Engine 5 is probably the best cinematic promotion in recent years because it actually proposes the idea of The Matrix in the best possible method – interactive entertainment.
Here you will be introduced with the classic Matrix data streams that is narrated with Keanu Reeves voice as Neo, speaking in 4th wall narration explaining the philosophy of The Matrix.
What is Real?
You’ll be going through the scene where Neo is sleeping on his work station and you’re left with this uncanny wonder; is this in-game or just a high resolution edit of the first film? Well, if you have a keen eye for detail, you’ll see that there is a mix blend of both elements, done perpetually to confused the viewers mind. At first it’s hard to see, but when the scene is cutting to different parts of the showcase, you can see subtle distinctions like mouth animations or the glisten of the eyes, or how stiff and a bit elongated the neck is compared to real life. However, that sort of detail is overshadowed by the sheer fidelity of the character models as a whole.
Soon after you’ll be thrown to a real-time car chase where the full effects of the engine opens up right before your eyes. In motion, it looks absolutely sublime. At one point the camera zooms out of the vehicle and does a wide view of Mega City – in what is clearly an indistinguishable difference of Chicago’s real life reflection.
To the untrained eye, you will not tell the difference if it’s a video game or a film – the sheer level of detail is absolutely mind-boggling. You’ll be seeing the best use case of motion blur, ambient lighting and reflection (their way of saying Ray Tracing) absolutely bonkers character models of Neo and Trinity as well as a new character, designed to train in this “Unreal” simulation against the Agents – oh, you’ll be shooting Agents in this demo in an on-rail style action sequence. There’s no free aim, but you’ll be experiencing incredible amount of particle affects happening from collision between cars, debris from explosions and and more. Agents will periodically jump to your vehicle which will prompt a QTE to eliminate them. The Agents are absolutely awesome looking with their outfits flapping against the wind, which is an affect usually exclusive to the playable characters in game.
After that sequence you’ll be thrown to a real-time slide show of Mega City where you’ll be prompted to toggle between graphical properties while the engine describes to you what each element does.
Then comes the juicy part – you will be able to walk around Mega City with the ability to run, fly and even drive! When you press the option button you can adjust some basic elements like crowd density, sun light degree and more. Enjoy the stroll experience the graphical details available to you – my personal favorite is the Ray Tracing reflections!
Oh, don’t forget to check out points of interest scattered across the map too!
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