Terminator 3: The Redemption
Not long ago, games based on films or with blockbuster title licenses were crap; it was a rule of thumb. The odd title would sometimes slip through, like Starsky and Hutch, but for every decent movie-tie in there would be a fair share of tripe to go with it. However, is it so that companies now realise that this simply cannot go on? Our eyes were scorched by the sheer beauty within Chronicles of Riddick, which not only looked the part but was immense fun on the gameplay side. Now we had Terminator 3: The Redemption arriving on our doorsteps, and although far from a must have title, Atari seem to have given us a game worthy of a good look.
Your mission for the game is to protect Connor and Kate Brewster; as the ultimate killing machine, you have been reprogrammed as the ultimate protector, and on being sent back to 29 years to 2003 you must protect the two from their and humanity’s fate is cast. Not the most original concept, and no I haven’t seen the film, but the way you must go about your mission is surprisingly varied and fun, something that can’t be said for the slurry of movie tie-ins.
Waking up on a treatment table, a computer military ‘geek’ is talking to you. Trying to fix your onboard computer, you get to choose your controller configurations and even try out the scan mode before the female general burst in and tries to exact her revenge on Arnold (just call me Arnie) for killing one of her team. This small event is amazing as the computer geek explains that you are now a protector and not a killing machine. You see the expressions on the generals face change dramatically, from complete anger to trust. Hand and body movements are just like that of real life, and are very smooth too. The computer to your right has individual keys on the keyboard instead of the usual blank oblong shape. This is amazing; time and care has gone into the graphics here.
You eventually get up after the two argue over your future, and walking through the barracks soldiers are darting everywhere, some trying to set up surveillance cameras and another fixing a circuit board on the wall, whilst others burst in front of you, much like in a bustling city centre on a Saturday afternoon. On the way out, your scientist-cum-computer geek is walking backwards talking to Arnie, with you in first person, and walks out of the door only to get shot and killed. The way the rest of the team react to this is amazing, they immediately go to hug a wall by the doorway and peer round at the craft. Moving outside with that ‘I couldn’t give a damn’ walk, the craft stars shooting at you. Taking control of Arnie, a few shots and dodges suffice to take the aircraft down. Looking around the scene during this fight you see other soldiers crouching behind debris, other taking pot shots at the craft whilst more try to come into the battlefield to help out comrades. It’s almost like playing Halo at one point. Almost…
However, it’s the second part of the mission which shows why T3R is right up there, and equally, right down there. Levels are linear, meaning the only way is up (baby, you and me now). The idea seems to be to use debris as cover, defeat the oncoming enemy and then advance, which sounds samey and boring but the speed at which locations change for example, like one minute you’ll be sheltering behind a rock, then find a car before a building collapses and offers more cover, keeps things going at a steady pace. After a few more shooty-walky bits you’ll gain access to a vehicle, which again seems to have its advantages and disadvantages. Now in control of a few tons of metal you can drive over enemies as well as shoot them down, but the dumbness of the AI makes them easy targets, standing in the middle of the road shooting blindly every few seconds. Should you drive a few feet from an enemy droid, they’ll latch onto the side of the car and keep shooting you in the back, which becomes very bloody annoying. You have to use the scan mode to pick them up and shoot them, then attempt to drive off again but by this time you’ll be surrounded by half witted droids.
And god forbid should you ever let them get into arms reach. Standing there like a lemon, I had two droids attacking me. One was swinging a road sign unconvincingly, which went through his pal before hitting me, and the timing left him open for a fatal attack. The other was punching me with the same time pattern, meaning all you have to do is wait for the break and finish them off. Perhaps the most annoying feature is enemies coming in from behind. There you are wielding your guns at foes in front when someone comes in with a cheap shot from behind. Now that’s good and well, but when you realise you only need to take your eye off things for a few seconds until the screen fills up with enemies, making it a whole lot harder. This means you’ll be constantly running forward, not to let the screen fill up but to avoid those closing in from behind.
What is great though is that each gun has unlimited ammo (and why not? You are the ultimate protector, after all!), and there are six guns to choose from, with an assault rifle, shotgun, machine gun, plasma rifle (fitting in with the futuristic setting) and plasma rocket launcher, along with a mounted turret machine gun. Each needs to be reloaded too, but in true Schwarzenegger style, pressing the black button will result in a cool one-handed reload by whipping the gun from his shoulder to the thigh until the sliding reload thingy….reloads, such is my knowledge on all things gun wise. My gripe about the guns though is if your target moves away, like a helicopter, you automatically stop firing, so if the target then swings back into view, you have to re-press the trigger to fire again, which becomes mighty annoying in the heat of a battle.
There are plenty of vehicles to drive in, with a police bike, a hearse, pick up truck, mounted gun car (Tech-Com car), gun mounted truck (Tech Com truck) and a helicopter, complete with mounted minigun. As I mentioned before, the handling is good enough to navigate each level at some speed without crashing, and the handy powerslide button allows some nice cornering when thrashing down a rubble-strewn road. However, once again the levels are very linear in that you can only go forward, but there’s more than just the samey old route; the landscape changed constantly, as on the second level one minute you’re rushing through an old town and the next you’re on the side of a steep hill. It makes things believable, that you’re actually chasing something through a country than just a videogame.
Being a super robot-type guy, having a life bar would spoil that idea, so instead Atari have come up with a power bar. Everytime Arnie gets hit his power cell gets depleted, reach zero and it’s game over. By defeating enemies he can sometimes zap their power to add it to his, although during the game I found this to be quite random and hard to recognise where to go for power. A cool feature also is when you get shot; as the power bar decreases human skin chips off of Arnie like paint, revealing the robot structure underneath. Very nice.
Looks wise, Terminator 3 Redemption is almost top of the range. Locations look convincing, animations are life-like and as smooth as Johnsons baby’s bum (to quote the advert) and the many explosions you will encounter are literally huge and again, convincing. When running through a destroyed town you are limited to where you can run, however when go to the side and are stopped by a mound of rubble, the stones building that mound are individually detailed and look like stones piled up, not just a lump stuck there with a shade of grey to give you the idea.
Vehicles are very detailed, usually a gun on a helicopter would involve a flash of light coming a few feet from the hull, however here we have the full gun, turret rotating, with a plate of strawberries and cream nearby to stand and stare in awe. Amazing. This is a movie tie in- stop making it so bloody good! The sound isn’t bad either, with explosions rocking the tv speakers and the occasional Arnie comment to spice things up a bit. And top marks to the guy who decided it would be best to play a blues song over the credits.
All in all, this is your interactive Arnie movie. If you like all things Arnie and eat and sleep the Guvnor’ of California then Terminator 3 Redemption is right up your street and you’ll play it for months on end. For those of us who are a step back, this is well worth a look. Great visuals and exciting gameplay warrant an eye out for a reduced price, but annoying AI and linear levels keep this title from the borderline of must-have-ness. A difficult one to rate, this; not superb, not average. Just in-between. And a credit to movie tie-ins.
Seven out of ten