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Terminator 3: The Redemption
game: Terminator 3: The Redemption
three star
posted by: Jeremy Kauffman
publisher: Atari
developer: Intermedia
ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 12:00 AM Tue Nov 23rd, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Tue Nov 23rd, 2004

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Truth be told, Terminator 3: The Redemption is one of those games that I wouldn't give a second look if I were to see it on the shelf. Rarely are video games based on movie licenses worth playing, rarer still if you didn't particularly like the source material in the first place. Don't get me wrong, the original Terminator is one of the most powerful and effective sci-fi films ever made. But at this point calling the franchise redundant is being kind. The only way you are getting me back in the seat for T4 is if Skynet sends a cyborg from the future to terminate the governor of California. 


So I can chalk this one up to luck of the draw. Receiving this game in the mail pretty much locks me into having to play it. As it turns out, I had a hell of a good time running and gunning my way through LA -- both present day and future apocalyptic. T3: The Redemption is a difficult, addictive, stylish game that delivers enough action to keep any button-pounding adrenaline gamer happy. It is far from perfect, but it will keep you entertained.


The game is a blend of third-person action, driving, and rail shooting. This kind of hybrid gameplay sometimes leaves the player feeling a lack of direction. More often than not, the focus on incorporating a variety of gameplay styles forces the developers to compromise the game's individual components, making you wish they had just picked a style and ran with it. That isn't the case here. Rather than devoting each level to a different style of gameplay, the action is seamless. Your T-850, sporting Arnie's visage and trademark one-liners, transitions from blasting steel-boned advasaries and Hunter-Killers on foot, to blowing them away from the turret of a jeep, to chasing them down in a hijacked robot tank without a hiccup or a glitch. The chase keeps going in true, single-minded Terminator fashion no matter what they throw at you. And they throw a lot at you.


This is the kind of game that can intimidate even a seasoned gamer right from the start. The levels are linear, but huge. The sheer number and variety of enemies is overwhelming and they don't stop coming, ever, not even after you have blown most of their bodies away. They just keep crawling and reaching out for you. And if you make it through the hoards of skeletal adversaries on foot, you still have to jump into a turret and gun down the next bunch. And if you survive that, you then have to drive a vehicle through more of them. And maybe, if you survive that, you can go on to level two. Eventually you will make your way across the deathly future landscape, travel back in time, and catch up to John Connor, who is being chased across present LA with his someday wife by the nigh-unstoppable T-whatever cyber chick. The game really does manage to deliver that better not stop to catch your breath for fear it will be your last? pace that the movies are famous for, and it is quite a rush.


Games like this one are all panic and reflex, so the playability hinges on the control. Luckily, the controls are comfortable and responsive. There are a wide variety of hand to hand moves to perform, and much of the levels are destructible. You can stick to your guns, or rip a street sign out of the pavement and wield it as a weapon. And there are plenty of little flourishes as well, as when an enemy reaches your turret, and you quickly grab and toss it in the air in front of you for target practice. Also, the controls are surprisingly congruent throughout the varying styles of gameplay. The game even had me hooked in the rail shooting levels despite the fact that I am not a big fan of standing still and dragging a reticule across a screen. The only things that really got to me were the things that I can't control, like the dizzying paths that my helicopter chauffeur would fly during the rail shooting portions of the game.


The game is fun and exciting, but it has its drawbacks, the most glaring of which is its replay value. The levels go on for so long, and the action is so intense, that the game, though addictive, becomes exhausting. And my desire to rest up and reboot dwindled as I realized that for all of its various styles, its myriad of moves and weapons, it was actually just presenting me with the same three situations over and over again. The scenery changes dramatically, but the gameplay doesn't. This might have been remedied with a kick ass cooperative mode. Unfortunately the co-op mode only allows the players to engage in the rail-shooting style of gameplay. While it is fun when thrown into the mix, this is by far the least enticing part of the game, and the co-op element grows tiresome very quickly. It's too bad, because if they had just allowed two players to join the regular game, it would have been fantastic.


Also, while they have incorporated an upgrade system to your Terminator, it really only enhances your targeting vision. Your targeting vision essentially allows you to highlight enemies, pinpoint their weak spots, and fire more accurately for a finite period of time. So, as you gain points you can use it for longer, and it becomes slightly more accurate, that sort of thing. However, I seldom even used my targeting vision, as going berserk and laying down massive fire usually worked just as well.


Cross-platform the game is inconsistent. While the load times are shorter and the graphics are tighter on the Xbox, the PS2 presents the game in Dolby Pro Logic II. The other platforms do not offer this. It is hit and miss as far as HD compatibility is concerned as well. And the Gamecube, of course, has that infernal C-stick to deal with. You will want to consider these things when picking up the game.


In the end, for me, it always comes down to the story, and we have all seen this one before. Not only in the film on which it was based, but each of the previous films and every other property based on them. I admit the presentation had me captivated. The animation really is quite effective. But alas, I knew what the ultimate outcome would be, and I was in no hurry to get there, even though the game was fun. Terminator 3: The Redemption is a thrill ride to be sure, but one that you could certainly play out in the space of a rental. Play it you should; buy it you should not.

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