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
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.
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.
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.