Arnold's Foreign Policy.
With their usual play-through-the-movie approach, it's easy to see why games based on movies are a tough sell to gamers who, expecting a fresh, interactive experience, get a $40 license and a $10 game. The first attempt to cash in on T3, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, turned out to be an overpriced frisbee.
But like the nearly indestructible robot, the franchise isn't going down without an exhausting fight. Luckily, Terminator 3: The Redemption saves some of the license's credibility and is actually decent enough to deserve a rainy day rental.
As the T-100, you progress through the movie's storyline through a combination of on-foot, driving, or vehicle-guided missions, most of which have you moving a targeting-cursor with the right analog stick. The word "missions" here is loosely applied, since the objectives before each stage serve mainly as a preview of the mission type combination you're going to get. The objectives are on a linear track, so there is no back-alley way to complete any mission. As long as you target the enemies quickly and hold down fire, you're golden.
Depending on the mission type, the game boils down to either blitzing through waves of enemies as efficiently as possible, finding paths to keep in pursuit of or run from the T-X, or just getting better at moving that targeting cursor (see $10). So the missions, averaging about five minutes in length, are really interactive snippets sandwiched between live-action and CG cutscenes (see $40).
Since there's no way to dodge enemy fire when on foot or being guided in a helicopter, for example, the game's difficulty is applied through a rigorous trial and error process. If you take a wrong turn or destroy targets too slowly, you'll have to restart the mission. Instead of placing you right at the mission's start, Redemption has you skip through the cutscene you just saw, spend your power-up points again, then wait for the stage to load. This gets to be a major problem if you have to try the mission a couple of times; the game is loading as much as you're playing.
However, when you are playing, T3: Redemption can be fun. The first couple tries through each mission aren't bad since the controls are intuitive and moving the targeting cursor takes some skill. The driving missions are commendable, creating a sense of urgency as you try to keep pace with the T-X. You actually have more freedom here than in other mission types. You can, for instance, jump from a vehicle that's about to explode on to another one that was just trying to knock you off the road. It gets pretty harrowing.
The on-foot missions are a bit drab in comparison. There are a few mash combos which look really cool, but are rarely needed to succeed. Guided missions require the brainpower of a gerbil pellet, but turn out to be entertaining since you usually have to try them once to get through them.
The more efficiently you pass through the missions, the more points you earn to power up the Terminator's patented diagnostic sight. When the sight is engaged, the screen turns red, environmental specifics like available targets and their relative distances are readily available and you do up to double damage. This nice little touch puts you closer to being Arnold, though it doesn't affect your performance very much at all.
A two-player cooperative mode is set in vehicle-guided mini-stages where you move your own targeting cursors and blast everything in sight. However mindless these may be, it's another nice addition and a reason to return to Redemption when reality gets too thought provoking.
Redemption's graphics are good on both the PS2 and Xbox, with a slight nod going to the Xbox's smoother lines. The look, feel, and rendering of the characters, objects, and environments are authentic and well-designed. Only the most exciting movie scenes made the cut and the CG sequences are done well.
The music and sound effects are also true to the motion picture. Every now and again, when grinding the T-X against a highway rail to get her off your car or expeditiously offing a Skynet tank, Arnold will give you a quick voiceover like "Excellent" or "No Problemo." Campy, silly, and right on cue.
Terminator 3: The Redemption, though, is a bit too little, too late. The film came out a year ago and we've already endured one tragic game offering. This one is far better than that mess (which admittedly isn't saying very much) and despite its fundamental flaws, the game delivers some decent fun. It just won't save the future.