reviews\ Sep 21, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Terminator 3: Redemption - PS2 - Review

Who could forget Terminator 2: The Arcade Game?  Light gun shooters have never had much innovation, but the action was unbeatable.  Movie scenes were re-created, while other levels were generated from scenarios that were mentioned or hinted at but never actually shown in the film.

Since that time little excitement has come out of the Terminator saga.  First James Cameron bails on the third film.  Then the next-generation game comes out and leaves little to be desired.  What’s a Terminator fan to do?  Is there anywhere for us to turn?

Terminator 3: Redemption redeems the faults of the series with a different style of gameplay.  Players will be overjoyed by the classic T2 arcade shooter elements.  In just the first level alone they'll shoot and destroy several dozen robots.  When things get too heavy to handle on foot, the Terminator will hop into an old beat-up truck (which just happens to have a gun mounted to the back).  Even better is what happens when the truck blows up!  Nobody likes to see their pickup go up in smoke, but a new one will be waiting for you in the middle of the road.  Alternatively, players can hop on top of their opponents' vehicles and take one of them for a spin.

Excluding the slower hand-to-hand combat moments, Terminator 3 plays like a movie game in the sense that it's always moving forward.  Human-protecting robots don't stand around and talk to the locals or waste time looking for weapons, so don't expect the Terminator to do so either.  Opponents sometimes leave behind weapons, and even when they don't there's never a time when you're without some form of defense.

The hand-to-hand combat features sound like Devil May Cry (lots of button-tapping combos) but play more like a sluggish wrestling game (the moves are executed very slowly).  This is a necessary part of the game and reaches near-sleep-inducing levels.

When you've taken out a few enemies and acquire a new weapon, it's revealed that each weapon is given its own button.  R1 is used for standard shooting, while the secondary weapon is activated by pressing and holding L1.  Why would the developers do this, you ask?  It's as if each button is a weapon's trigger.  By pressing both triggers simultaneously, you get to fire two weapons!

This is cool, but is a little bogged down by the cursor this game uses instead of crosshairs.  It's supposed to be crosshairs, but as I move the right analog stick I feel like I'm playing The House of the Dead without a light gun.  This is awkward, creating a less entertaining experience than the game would have been had it used a seamless control scheme.  Imagine what it would be like if the controls were comparable to Timesplitters 2.

The House of the Dead-style controls are even more prevalent when you take flight, or use a ground-mounted weapon.  Moving the right analog stick should cause the camera to move, but the focus here is on the cursor.  It moves but your doesn't, and when it does it only moves a small amount.

If the developers were trying to emulate the experience of Terminator 2: The Arcade Game, then I applaud them for their efforts.  This was not, however, what I was referring to when I said they re-created elements from that game.  I was referring to the action.  While far less than perfect, the action is good and is very much in the vein of Terminator 3.

The best moments take place on the road or in the air.  The game doesn't look too good visually until you start shooting missiles that blow up buildings instead of your targets.  PS2 can do better, we know that, but don't tell my eyes – they were too busy staring at this cool effect.  I fired a few misguided missiles just to see it happen again. 

Run over humans in Grand Theft Auto 3 and they'll die.  Run over a robot in Terminator 3 and it'll grab onto the side of your vehicle and attack.  Players can deal with this nuisance simply by pressing the X button.  The Terminator may kick the robot off or shoot him in the head, whichever is more convenient for him.  If you're using a gun turret and a robot sneaks up from behind, he'll reach back, grab the robot and toss him in front of the bullet stream. 

These are the only elements you'll find in Terminator 3: Redemption – running, shooting, and driving various vehicles, both traditional and futuristic.  The game can get repetitive, and as you'll soon discover not all of the gameplay elements are polished.  But as a game that's based on a movie that many have been called a "popcorn flick," Terminator 3 has what it takes to appease the fans.

Review Scoring Details for Terminator 3: Redemption

Gameplay: 7
Do you wanna drive, steal futuristic vehicles, and blow up lots of stuff?  Of course you do!  That’s why you went to the movies last year, and that’s why you’ll want to (or not want to) play Terminator 3: Redemption.

Graphics: 6.5
Mostly typical, but check out those buildings!  They crumble very realistically.  The Terminator’s polygonal model and intricate body damage will catch the eye of any Terminator fan.

The rest of the game leaves a lot to be desired.  The majority of the graphic effects could’ve been created five years ago, and the low-budget explosions were seen in PSone games in the mid-90s.

Sound: 7
This game is weird in that I don’t feel one way or the other about the sound.  It’s not good, but it’s not particularly annoying either.  It’s just there.

Difficulty: Medium
Saving the world from man-made machinery is not as easy as it looks.

Concept: 7
Puzzle-solving and world exploration, get out of here!  Terminator 3 doesn't want any part of you.  It's just shoot, shoot, shoot all the way through.

Multiplayer: 7

Overall: 7
Terminator 3: Redemption is an action trip worth taking if you love the third film.  Speeding down the road, shooting every robot in sight, trying hard not to get terminated – there’s nothing like that.  The game doesn’t perform all of its cool concepts as well as the technology allows, so this isn’t the kind of game you’ll write about in your video game journal (if you do that sort of thing).  But like I said, if you love the film you’ll want to take the trip.  Be safe and make it a short one by renting the game instead of shelling out the $40-$50 that most stores are charging.


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