Review: I'm bad to the bone!
It'd be pretty pointless and stupid to go over the history of Terminator games again. After Dawn of Fate and Rise of the Machines, even diehard fans of John Connor and company realize that a good Terminator game might never be made again. But here we go again with Terminator 3: The Redemption, released last year, it was meant to make up for the shoddy tie-in game that was Rise of the Machines by telling the same story but this time with a promise of better gameplay.
While this promise is met, Redemption is a very different game from Rise of the Machines. Gone are the first person shooter elements and one-on-one fistfights. In are a third-person perspective and vehicle missions. Since Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was at its core one long chase movie, it makes sense that Terminator 3: The Redemption features a series of vehicle chases and shootouts as its main style of play. The Redemption starts with your Terminator in the past. As you progress through the game you'll be transported back to 2004 and in the ensuing battle with the T-X at the first Time Displacement Chamber, you will be flung into an alternate 2032 where John Connor and Kate Brewster have been terminated. The game ends just as the movie does with the fight at Crystal Peak and the inevitability of Judgment Day.
Through it's CG movies, cut scenes and footage from the Terminator 3 movie, Terminator 3: The Redemption oozes the essence of James Cameron's cyborg creations. The opening movie (which plays over the "credits" of the game even shows us the Time Displacement Chamber for the first time. It's not quite what I imagined, but its pretty close. The CG and movie clips are really incredible and are the absolute high point of the game.
The game's default settings are not intuitive at all and only seem to be what they are to penalize the player and make the game artificially harder. In the on-foot missions, the camera zooms in directly behind The Terminator and seriously blocks the player's view. It does however give you a beautiful view of the gorgeously rendered Ahh-nuld model. Whether this was a developer decision or part of Arnold's appearance contract is unknown. The camera can be pushed back with the Select button and this wider position does wonders for seeing the environments.
Movement is also spotty as the controls in the on-foot portions is too sensitive. This can also be adjusted in the Options menu, but it never feels tight. The aiming circle will fly all over the screen as you try to lock onto ground forces that have much better aim than you do or air units that are much too fast for an on-foot Terminator.
Each mission is timed and none have a target time over eight minutes, so it's possible for a skilled player to burn through this title in a few hours. Most will not be that skilled though as the sometimes frustrating AI is a very good shot. Although... pseudo-intellectual babble ahead... they are Terminators, and Terminators have exceptionally good aim. So maybe it was all part of the plan to make the Terminators as similar to their movie counterparts as possible. Except it doesn't really work that way in any of the movies, any of the previous games or for the Terminator the player controls. So much for that theory.
Many of the future vehicle missions have your Terminator chasing some large, flying Hunter Killer across repetitive terrain that just drags. This is AWWWWE-SOME
turns into this is dull pretty quick. If ever a game needed an Auto-Aim feature, this is the one. Instead you're left flailing at windmills as you try to shoot a very large object with a very tiny "vulnerable area" while avoiding sharpshooter Terminators and trying to jump from vehicle to vehicle. There's too much going on for it to be good for any extended length of time.
Redemption is a game that forces the player to replay levels over and over again from the beginning until they complete them. Normally I'm all for that type of gameplay, especially considering the two previous games I reviewed before this were Alien Hominid and Mega Man X8. But in Redemption it just feels wrong. Like you're being punished because you were killed by enemies you either can't see or enemies you can see but aren't allowed to shoot back at. And the load times before each retry, they go on forever and when each level is a 3 - 8 minute chunk, there's no excuse for that.
For another example, take the Tunnel level from the Alternate Future section. In this level, The Terminator is zipping down a ventilation tunnel at high speed dodging pipes and trying to shoot out fans so they momentarily stop. Its a fantastic level with great design and a good sense of speed, but there's no visual cue that you're stopped the fans or that they're about to start up again. You'll shoot into the dark hoping you hit it and then just barrel ahead. With luck you'll live, if not, have a nice day, back to the beginning of the level for you. After a nice load screen of course.
It does get better. The present day sections of the game are pretty fast and tight and because they aren't centered around destroying an unkillable Terminator tank you get the feeling that when you lose you lost because of something you did wrong. Not because of some unkillable A.I. that proves SkyNet and machines planning to destroy humanity is probably closer than we think. Even the vehicle missions are more fun and the alternate future is interesting. And stomping Skynet Endoskeletons that grab onto your vehicle is as fun now as it was in the demo.
Some of the features in Redemption are also worth noting. Terminator Vision (that red thermal vision Arnie sports) can be turned on with Triangle allowing your Terminator to deal more damage. This vision can be enhanced by completing levels quicker and earning Terabytes of data to spend on either longer vision sequences, more vision damage or quicker vision power reloading. The hand to hand combat can be fun as well, especially when a long stick is involved and a SkyNet trooper gets impaled in a shower of sparks and shiny metal.
None of the actors from T3 lend their voices to the game, but each one's vocal substitute does well enough. The music is also very Terminator-like and as I said before, this game really just oozes Terminator goodness. James Cameron would be proud in how well the future was recreated.