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Terminator 3: The Redemption (Xbox) artwork

Terminator 3: The Redemption (Xbox) review


"When it comes to action, T3:TR delivers a 100% authentic cinema-like experience. The high speed thrills, the overbearing intensity, the intangible feeling of claustrophobia caused by the relentless pursuit of the T-X. The very same emotions you passively enjoyed while sitting on the edge of your seat are now available in a fully interactive format. Though you'll begin the game by working with a rag tag assortment of human freedom fighters, a single stage won't be complete until the action has changed genre types a handful of times, thereby keeping things interesting and fresh. "



I like surprises! Mind you when I say that, I'm not referring to the nasty kind you might encounter when crossing the street, nor do I imply the cold cutting "Oh my!" felt at the discovery of your foxy new girlfriend's third nipple. No, I like sweet surprises. The bicycle found wrapped up under your Christmas tree in the morning, or perhaps a few extra dollars left in your pay packet at the end of the month. Heck, even Atari's auspiciously named Terminator 3: The Redemption will suffice. For over the past few years, few developers have handled their licenses quite as badly as Atari. Whether you found yourself groaning at the bug-tastic horrors of Driv3r, or marvelling at the incredibly mediocre delights of Enter the Matrix, one inescapable truth has been clearly evident... these guys were just in it for the money. They obviously didn't care about quality, what is this concept ye speak of?! Then along came Transformers for the Playstation2 and for a moment there, we sensed promise. That perhaps the curse was beginning to lift and Atari's Redemption was close at hand. Could this mean that the time was now right for a new Terminator game of unequaled quality? Probably, possibly, maybe... but only if you're up to the challenge ahead....

Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines.

Bleak stuff for sure, but it's also a proven formula for success. An apocalyptic struggle against fate, a big burly Austrian body builder otherwise known as Ahh-nuld, and some of the most intense action sequences ever committed to celluloid. Perfect fodder for a really good game then eh? Like all good things in life, Terminator 3: The Redemption begins with a naked woman. Not just any naked woman either, but the smoothly rendered curves of Skynet's latest cybernetic killing machine, the T-X. Look on as this eye pleasing vixen slaughters a dozen human freedom fighters without even breaking a sweat. Marvel at the excitement generated by the rich textures and the oh so enticing way her hips seem to wiggle between kills. More importantly, seek to control the inner fanboy as it screams at the realization that this wasn't actually seen in the original movie! Sure, the classic set pieces that you're already familiar with are present and accounted for, the crane chase, the cemetery shoot out... but now they've been joined by extra story elements that manage to do what the last Terminator movie could not. And that is to take your breath away. More epic, more grandiose, and a lot more Terminators than you could possibly shake a Global Defensive A.I. at.

But how does that work then? The answer of course is simple... a little respect and a lot of background knowledge can go a long way. With the opening cinemas and the initial WOW factor behind you, the first thing you'll notice about T3:TR is how a slick, freshly greased feel of quality seems to permeate every corner of the game. Waking on a medical table, players will find themselves under the chassis and in direct third person control of everyone's favorite cyborg assassin. Go on, stand up and take a look around for a moment... nice isn't it? From the smoothly animated character models to the way each area has been imbued with an impressively high amount of detail, you're first impressions are likely to be quite favorable. The sky hangs dark overheard, stained and blackened from years of conflict. Off in the distance a 747 lays half buried nose down in the ground, buildings sit in ruins, and an impressive collection of human skulls litter the landscape. It's all so utterly believable and in this fan's humble opinion, the most realistic video game portrayal of the Terminator universe yet. It's into this happy little nightmare then that you're sent to infiltrate a Skynet base and hijack a time machine. Your mission: return to the past and protect John Connor from the bad karma currently winging his way...

Come with me if you want to live...

When it comes to action, T3:TR delivers a 100% authentic cinema-like experience. The high speed thrills, the overbearing intensity, the intangible feeling of claustrophobia caused by the relentless pursuit of the T-X. The very same emotions you passively enjoyed while sitting on the edge of your seat are now available in a fully interactive format. Though you'll begin the game by working with a rag tag assortment of human freedom fighters, a single stage won't be complete until the action has changed genre types a handful of times, thereby keeping things interesting and fresh. You could for instance be expected to follow up the on foot shooting action by hijacking a Hunter/Killer tank and driving it Twisted Metal style through a dilapidated shopping center. Then, just mere moments before your acquired transportation explodes in a ball of fury, leaping from it to the relative safety of a waiting helicopter. Once on board the chopper however there's no time to rest. Get over there and man that mini-gun, we're about to switch gears and drop you "on the rails" for some adrenaline soaked shooting action! Ya! Ya! Like I said, it's intense, edge of your seat kind of stuff. Furthermore, the sense of oppressive urgency generated by the tight mission objectives is quite surprising as well. Toe curling... yes Sir, I believe that's how I would describe it...

As exciting as all this may sound, the action is linear to a fault. You run to point "A", board a jeep only to drive and shoot your way to point "B" where a helicopter is waiting to take you onto point "C". Mix, match, toss in some new variations and repeat as you see fit. And while some players may dislike such obviously restrictive gameplay mechanics, Atari have utilized the concept in full by filling each stage with a high level of CGI goodness. The least of which are T3:TR's many "Terminator Moments". By pressing the button at an opportune time, players will find themselves greeted by a brief cinema style sequence that really hammers home the awesome might at a Terminator's disposal. Need a lift? Well then, time that button press correctly and the Governator... eerr Terminator will reach out and take hold of an incoming airplane's undercarriage, lifting both himself and the car he is driving high into the sky and out of harm's way. Exhilarating stuff indeed! Made even the more memorable by the fact that many of these moments truly make you want to stand up and shout woohooo!!! in your best Schwarzenegger-esque accent. And really, how many games make you feel like doing that?

Flying in the face of the otherwise entertaining gameplay is some of the most vicious kick you in the balls game design ever implemented. It's not so much that T3:TR is hard, there are after all much more challenging games around. No, the problem lays with a total and utter lack of check points, save points, or other assorted way points. Start a stage and players are expected to stay the course and complete it in one attempt. Which may not have been such a bad thing had the game understood the concept of forgiveness. Make a single solitary mistake and you'll be forced to restart the stage, perhaps getting a wee bit further before being waylaid by the next unexpected obstacle. Round and round you'll go, testing your skill as a gamer while pushing your blood pressure right up through the ceiling. For some, this sort of challenge may not be much a problem as T3:TR's authentic action and intoxicating eye candy provides players with all the real incentive they need. The graphics, the cinemas, those Terminator moments, mark my words it's all so thoroughly inviting. But even still, these small concessions may not be enough to keep the softer among us from seeing the game through to its oh so satisfying conclusion. Which is really quite a shame as where pay offs are concerned, they don't get much better than this...

When you do eventually make it to the final showdown however, you'll probably find yourself pondering a couple of things. For one, why wasn't this game any longer? And two... was that really Arnold voicing the Terminator's dialogue? To set things straight then, yes, this is a short game. If one were to take into account and thusly subtracted the amount of time spent replaying each stage, you would probably find little more than two hours of actual play time from beginning to end. For better or worse then, T3:TR is a ride not unlike its cinema brothers. Short and sweet with lots of things to smash, kill and destroy. As for your second question however, no I'm sorry to say it's not the big man. You may think it sounds a lot like him, but unfortunately while this game was being produced, Governor Schwarzenegger was otherwise occupied with affairs of state. Oh well so be it, for the most part the performance was adequate while it was certainly good enough to help suspend my disbelief. Much like the rest of the voice acting then I suppose, it manages to err on the right side of professional while avoiding the pitfalls commonly associated with other, less than authentic performances. Chalk this one up as another surprise then and let's get ready to call it a day.

Before we do however, it's worth noting that through it all, T3:TR's smooth and responsive controls are sure to impress. No matter how hard a given situation may seem, or how complex the combination of actions may be, when you make a mistake the blame can be laid squarely on the player's own lack of skill and never the game itself. In fact, the ease at which players can step into the shoes of the Terminator and quickly accomplish feats of such unbelievable coolness can be seen as something of a blessing. After all, when the game is as hard as this the last thing you'll be wanting to do is wrestle with the controls. Surprisingly enough though, hand to hand combat has the feel of a feature thrown in at the last minute. Less memorization and more button mashing, many of the combo attacks are likely to go unused in favor of two or three combinations that would, "seem to get the job done". Had a little more thought been invested in this aspect of the gameplay, T3:TR really could have had all its bases covered. As it stands however, hand to hand combat is functional if not uninspired. And next to the excellent shoot'em up action it seems rather tepid and weak... what happened here boys? Where was your attention?

"I'll be back..."

For the most part, Terminator 3: The Redemption is a game that hits more targets than it actually misses. Unfortunately enough however, the few key points that if fails to strike just so happen to be whopping great big ones that have been conveniently marked with bright flashing neon lights signaling, "GET THIS RIGHT OR ELSE". As such, some may see Terminator 3: The Redemption's short comings as being something of a hindrance. And perhaps quite rightly so I might add. Even still, just as surely as others will complain, some will relish the challenge, pushing themselves forever onwards in order to marvel at the many delights on offer. Consider this a stale mate then, but one that's likely to separate the boys from the men. Had things been more forgiving and perhaps a little less linear, well there's little doubt in my mind that Terminator 3: The Redemption could have been a class act. The story, the graphics, the "holy cow did you see that?!?" action, it's all here waiting for the right kind of gamer to enjoy. If this is you then you already know what to do. Throw on those sunglasses, toss on a black leather jacket, and start living out your wildest fantasies. Otherwise you'd best be looking for your surprises some place else...

Pros
----

* Terminator 3: The Redemption is no cake walk
* The story expands upon the original movie, Rise of the Machines
* A nice selection of gameplay styles keeps things interesting and fresh
* There's a great epic-like feel to the many action sequences
* Terminator moments really manage to excite players
* Amazing visuals give the game a great feeling of class and style
* Smooth controls assist players to push onwards through the challenge
* The voice actors while obvious imitations, are quite believable
* There's a great range of bonus materials to be enjoyed

Cons
----

* May be too linear for some
* Unforgiving gameplay leaves little margin for error
* There are Zero check points to be had
* Hand to hand combat seems tacked on
* When all is said and done, Terminator 3: The Redemption is not a long game

Rating: 6/10

midwinter's avatar
Staff review by Michael Scott (September 14, 2004)

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