Genre : Action
Release Date: September 1, 2004
It seems like our good pals at Atari really like to milk their licenses – at least that is what comes to mind when one contemplates the publisher’s decision to continue supporting the dead-in-the-water Matrix license in these post Reloaded/Revolutions days (a stupid decision pertaining to this license second only to notoriously moronic publisher Sega’s claim on The Matrix Online, an expensive ball hastily thrown at Sega by its former [much smarter] publisher Ubi Soft), along with tossing another Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines-based game in our faces. Maybe Atari just wants another good Terminator game to hit the shelves in the wake of their poorly received first attempt Rise of the Machines; something that hasn’t occurred since the better-than-average T2: the Arcade Game. Whatever the reason is, we’ve got another Terminator 3 game on our hands, and it’s as mediocre as ever. Since the development costs on this one probably weren’t so high and the licensing fees for a mediocre film that premiered well over a year ago, I’m sure even minimal sales will allow Atari to make off like damned bandits. They get piles of cash to fill their swimming pools with; and we get a crap game: Terminator 3: the Redemption.
Players take the newest politician to come out of the Predator woodwork out to kill lots and lots of robots. Now I’m fully aware of how derogatory that sounds, but it really isn’t that bad of a concept. It’s the perfect start towards putting together a great action/shooter, if you ask me! But things go horribly awry from this concept on out, as is common with these cash-in titles. The Redemption smacks of lazy development throughout. In terms of gameplay, it lies somewhere in between Enter the Matrix and (shudder) Catwoman. Meaning, for those of you not in the know, I’m referring to somewhere in between over-hyped mediocrity and outright trash.
Players take the surprisingly well-spoken current governor of “Cally-fornee-uh” through four chapters of chaos loosely based around the events of the latest Terminator film. As with most cash-in games, T3 contains a large selection of different vehicles and events (it seems like padding games with features as opposed to substance is the best way to sell a game these days). Along with the generic third-person-viewpoint-meets-first-person-controls kill everything on foot setup, Arnold will be driving motorcycles, cars, trucks, and even a helicopter along with riding as the gunner in a car while a human teammate drives. There is a lot to do, eh? Well, none of it really controls worth a damn.
The on-foot majority of the game looks as though it should play well. The action starts with a tense sequence in which ol’ Arnie wakes up and is informed of his overall mission: To ensure the survival of John Connor and Kate Brewster. The movement engine is where the problems start. The left analog stick handles Mr. Schwarzenegger’s footsies, while the C-stick handles the aiming for his constantly itchy trigger finger. This is an awkward control scheme because the left stick always moves the Governor in the exact direction the player is pointing, leaving the targeting reticule right where it was. It is a control scheme more appropriate for a giant robot simulator than a fast-paced action game. I will say that after a bit of time is spent with this control scheme it is not so bad, but it always feels at least a little bit off.
Firing is unresponsive and uncomfortable. Mr. Terminator doesn’t seem to want to react directly to the player’s commands as he should! There always seems to be an unnecessary delay placed between the moment you hit the button and the moment when our friend Arnold decides to fire.
What I see as a strong positive for this game is the difficulty level. While it is rife with straightforward action, the kind of game play that tends to be bleedingly easy in most games these days, the Redemption is hard. Really hard. The flaw in this is that there are usually not enough varying paths to take, as you blast your way through each level with one method, and one method only. You will be hard pressed to play this game outside of the narrow path planned by the developers. You can’t play through stages successfully five or six different ways like in, say, Treasure’s Ikaruga. This makes the replay value just about non-existent for all but the biggest Terminator fans out there. If you can get yourself used to the screwy controls, and you really enjoy the concept of “terminating” everything in sight while playing as “the Governator”, you may actually enjoy the game (at a bargain-bin price, of course). Five to eight mediocre hours for me could easily be just as many enjoyable hours for a big fan of the series.
The action sequences are broken up by live action and CG footage. The first sequence is really good – a fantastic introduction to the game – but most of the CG stuff brings the overall experience down a bit. Arnold himself is actually the weakest link here. The entire cast present in the film reprise their roles quite well, but Arnold sounds even more like a mindless mannequin than even the freaking Terminator is supposed to! And it sounds like he has a voice double taking on some of his lines, which is bad news for big Terminator/”Ahh-nuld” fans. In the case of the Redemption, these movies are a big positive, since only fans of the film are really likely to run out and buy this game. If you’ve got a hankering for an unhealthy dose of Mr. Shwarzenegger, pick up a copy of the Terminator Trilogy and toss a copy of the Redemption into your cart as an unhealthy side-dish.
The game looks good often, and mediocre almost as much. The muddy textures found throughout are a problem, but the spot-on character skins make up for that. Anti-aliasing is an ugly problem throughout, however. Sliding stair-steps are seen all over the game, even during the otherwise nicely rendered in-game cinematic portions.
For a Gamecube game the framrate is poor. Often lower than 30 frames per second even when not much is happening, the Redemption doesn’t run as fast as a high-octane action game like this should. On the plus side, only in a few instances did the game slow down to the point of momentary unplayability.
All of the characters from the film are expertly rendered and instantly recognizable, which is the saving grace of this otherwise mediocre release. Then again, that is usually the only good thing these movie-licensed releases have going: Enter the Matrix, Catwoman; both of these games played well below expectations but had fantastic polygonal renditions of the actors from their respective films. Hmm… makes you think about where the priorities of these developers lie…
At least the Redemption sounds good. The score is taken directly from the movie, giving it an instant high-budget soundtrack. Nothing in this game serves to instill so much excitement into the hearts of its players like the sounds of the Terminator theme. A better way to communicate the feel of the Terminator universe could not be conceived.
The Redemption is not great. It is not good. But it is sure as shoes better than Atari’s first attempt at doing the license justice, Rise of the Machines, a terrible first-person shooter with more in common with Fugitive Hunter than Halo. The Redemption is more Catwoman than 007: Everything or Nothing, but at least it isn’t all Catwoman. Terminator fans should wait just a few more months for this late arrival’s price to dwindle, and the rest of us ought to skip out on this one and pick up Everything or Nothing, which does not contain a member of the Predator/Politician crew, but is a fantastic videogame despite this.
Score : 6.0/10