Come with me if you want to live.
Around the GR compound, we call it the "Curse of the Movie License" because with very few exceptions, games based on movies end up sucking more than the latest model Hoover. It's a good thing Mr. Schwarzenegger has had such recent luck in California, because his video game career just got trashed by the monumental catastrophe that is Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Not that we should worry too much for Arnold. His fortunes seem secure. As proof of this, I have just now discovered that the Governator is such an unavoidable cultural icon that "Schwarzenegger" is actually included in the default Microsoft Word dictionary. The wealth of funny Arnold links I could include in this review is so overwhelming, I'm going to limit myself to just one…this one.
Alright! That was fun! But one thing that definitely won't put a smile on your face is the T3 video game. This piece of crap is so bad, I'm going to send my copy back in time to 1963 in order to stop video games from ever being invented.
What, you may ask, could be that bad? Let's start off with the gameplay. T3 closely follows that plot of the movie, where a Schwarzenegger-type terminator (played by you) must stop the fiendish T-X hot-chick-model terminator from terminating the scruffy human, John Connor. You must fight your way through the future battlefields to the SkyNet time lab, where you are teleported back to protect the human savior, and then fight your way through 2003. Sounds okay…until you try to play it.
T3 is mostly a first-person shooter, but occasionally switches to a side view with fighting game controls. Both play types suck. Surprise! The first-person game is bogged down by bad maps, short viewing distances and narrow corridors, which leave you staring at the quickly scrolling walls far too often. It relies completely on a lock-on button (the left trigger) which seems to pick an enemy randomly, even if they are behind a wall, while someone else shoots at you.
This would be an even bigger problem if the hit detection worked better. Sometimes your weapons will pierce the wall (not literally, since the wall remains intact), while other times your opponents will be totally invulnerable, protected by invisible barriers.
There are, in fact, walls that can be destroyed. You'll need to find them because in order to continue your linear mission, you'll need to break them down to get to the next area. But they often look like every other wall, which leaves you combing levels just firing randomly at walls. Better hope it's not one of the many levels with a time limit or a vague objective.
The hand-to-hand combat levels aren't any better. Punch, kick, throw and block might be the mantra of Chop Chop Master Onion, but it makes for a very primitive fighting game. Toss in some more bad hit detection, and a little button mashing will get you right though these short levels, no problem.
The graphics offer no hope for salvation. The future is gray, very, very gray. Gray objects and gray robots fight in front of gray walls. The five queer guys would not approve at all; everything is indistinct and entirely without flair. And the present doesn't look much better. The best part of the visuals is the FMV, which comes pretty close to what the game should look like.
Instead, animations are slow, primitive and glitchy. Skinless terminator robots fall slowly to the ground, only to appear instantly upright again. Explosions look like cotton balls flickering on the screen. The Xbox is slightly clearer around the edges than the PS2, but who could possibly care?
The sound must be the best part, with the bass-heavy Terminator soundtrack to get you in the mood. The celebrity voice actors work well enough during the cut scenes, but The Terminator really shouldn't say "Excellent" when he picks up ammo.
Perhaps a good multiplayer game will give T3 a little firepower. Wait, what multiplayer? Forget playing online - there isn't a split-screen game or even any two-player versus fighting. No friends allowed.
But the saddest part has to be the staggering number of people who worked on this thing, including some well-respected developers. Just check the credits from the manual. I'm not counting them all, but that's about 400 names. I imagine one of these people, just one, went up to their manager and said, "This is a bad game. It would be embarrassing if we sold it to people." I'm sure they were immediately fired. If it had been my name in those credits, I would have changed it to Alan Smithee.
Hasta la vista, baby.