The matrix awakens alone proves that next-gen graphics are within the reach of new game consoles from Sony and Microsoft. This is unlike any tech demo you’ve tried before. When we said the next generation of games haven’t really arrived with the Xbox Series X and PS5, this is the kind of push that has the potential to turn things around. And it’s free to download on these consoles right now, so you should really give it a try.
Don’t expect this to make you question your reality – the strange valley is still alive and well.
I plugged in The matrix awakens today, after watching our exclusive interview with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss – they play Neo and Trinity I’m sure you know – and heard some jaw-dropping praise around her Game Awards debut. At first, I was impressed with Keanu Reeves’ realism from the get-go, but if you look closely (in the demo or video at the top of this article), you’ll see that the character models become less and less impressive over time.
We go from a true Reeves doppelganger that was supposed to be at least in part real-life footage, to weird valley puppets (which robot wears Keanu’s skin?) Around a world with no particular purpose. From a “digital humans” perspective, the illusion is shattered quite quickly.
it reminds me a bit of the original Final fantasy vii, where Cloud, Tifa, Barrett, and Aerith can look very different depending on whether you’re playing a battle, watching a cutscene, or traveling the world – because while developer Square could produce cutting-edge graphics, there weren’t any resources. to give everything the same level of polish.
But of a “Is it Time for Photorealistic Video Game Cities?” perspective, The matrix awakens is seriously convincing. It’s head and shoulders above the most photorealistic video game cities we’ve seen so far, including those in the Spider Man, Grand Theft Auto and Watch dogs series. Go back to watch videos of this games, even the newer ones that have added real-time ray tracing, their cities look like a game in comparison.
Despite problems and a sometimes jerky frame rate, The awakening of the matrixs city feels more real, thanks to The incredible global illumination and real-time ray tracing of Unreal Engine (“The whole world is only lit by the sun, sky and emissive material on the mesh,” says Epic), building detail procedurally generated and the density of it all in terms of cars and foot traffic.
And the most compelling part is that it’s not just a scripted sequence running in real time on your PS5 or Xbox like pretty much every other tech demos you’ve seen – you can run, drive and fly through, manipulate the angle of the sun, activate filters and dive into a full photo mode, as soon as the scripted and rail shooting parts of the demo are over.
Not that there is much to To do in The matrix awakens except finding different ways to enjoy the view. You can’t land on buildings, there are no car chases other than the scripted one, no bullets to dodge. You can smash any of the 38,146 cars in the game into any of the other cars or walls I guess. I did a bunch of that before I got bored, though, just looking at the world. Here are some other awesome stats for the game from Epic’s press release (via Eurogamer and VentureBeat):
- The city is 4,138 km wide and 4.968 km long, slightly larger than the size of downtown Los Angeles.
- The area of the city is 15.79 km2
- The perimeter of the city is 14.519 km long
- There are 260 km of roads in the city
- There are 512 km of sidewalks in the city
- There are 1,248 intersections in the city
- There are 45,073 cars parked, of which 38,146 can be driven and destroyed
- There are 17,000 simulated vehicles on the road that are destructible
- 7,000 buildings
- 27,848 street lights only
- 12,422 sewer holes
- Almost 10 million unique and duplicated assets have been created to make the city
- The whole world is illuminated only by the sun, the sky and the emissive materials on the mesh. No light source was placed for the tens of thousands of lampposts and headlights. In night mode, almost all the lighting comes from the building’s millions of emissive windows
- 35,000 simulated MetaHuman pedestrians
- Average number of polygons? 7,000,000 buildings made up of thousands of assets and each asset could represent up to millions of polygons, so we have several billion polygons to only constitute the buildings of the city
Epic Games’ pitch is that Unreal Engine 5 developers can do this or better with its out-of-the-box tools at their disposal, and I can’t wait to see them try it out. Not that photorealistic games are necessarily my favorites, but I’ll take all the immersion I can get.
It would of course be to finally have a good game based on The matrix, also, clue-clue-wink-wink. If there’s a good script, it looks like Keanu and Carrie-Anne are up for it!
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