reviews\ Sep 23, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Terminator 3: Redemption - XB - Review

There’s no getting around how cool the Terminator franchise is after three movies that pushed the sci-fi action genre to whole new levels.  It’s no wonder the Xbox has seen attempts to bring the battle between man and machine . . . I mean who wouldn’t want to kick robotic tail as a resistance fighter or play as our favorite muscular T850 programmed to blast holes into his own kind?  Unfortunately, two of these attempts, brought to us by Atari, have not lived up to the expectations of Terminator fans everywhere.  The last try, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, was a somewhat worthy attempt albeit a really flawed one.  Now with Terminator 3: The Redemption, Atari aims to rectify its past mistakes to bring us a game true to the franchise and the third action-packed movie.  If you want to see if it succeeds, well, come with me if you want to live . . . I mean, if you want to see if it does.


The Redemption, much like the extremely recent Rise of the Machines, follows the basic plot of the third Terminator film.  It seems that the Skynet killing machines are still determined to eliminate the leader of the human resistance in the bleak future of 2032.  Sending its newest model in cybernetic assassins, the Machines send the deadly (yet gorgeous) T-X back to 2003 to eliminate a young John Connor and his future wife Kate Brewster.  Yet as chance would have it, the resistance once again captures another T850 and reprograms the brawny cyborg to protect Connors and Brewster.  The result is a battle in the past in order to save humanity in the future. 


Okay, so it does sound good but these are things we already saw when Rise of the Machines was released a few months ago.  Story-wise we get to see how the T850 came into the service of the human resistance and the little things in between the movie’s major plot points so this does make for a more completely rounder (and more satisfying) story.  As far as the gameplay mechanics are concerned, though, The Redemption really does somewhat redeem itself from the unfortunately awful Rise of the Machines.  For one thing, there’s more variety this time around and yes once again it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger you’ll be kicking robotic tail with during the course of the game.



The Redemption mixes both some good third-person shooter action with some brawling and driving sequences tossed into the action-packed mix.  From the very beginning we get a sense of all the things you’ll experience throughout the game and what you’ll experience isn’t that bad at all.  On foot you’ll be shooting everything from the familiar hovering crafts to various Skynet cyborgs but thanks to the assortment of weapons they’ll go down hard.  You can also perform some hand-to-hand combat moves as well as take control of a stationary rail gun.  The driving sequences range from driving and shooting to just manning the gun in the back of a Tech-Com truck while a human drives and that’s not bad at all.  Either way, the driving sequences are fast and furious and loads of fun.  You’ll even man a chain gun aboard a helicopter!


The T850 is a tough killing machine that is good at both shooting two guns at once or ripping out street signs to skewer his skeletal cousins with or to smash other shiny Skynet machinery.  It’s also an upgradeable model with a learning CPU.  This means that with enough points you are able to tweak everything from energy recharge (it can heal itself with the aid of electrical power lines) to its Scan Vision power levels (Scan Vision improves the T850’s targeting system and offers useful tactical data).  Yet the T850 is also an old model, which will become painfully obvious the second you fight against the sleek but deadly T-X model.


The mission chapters put you in several tight spots seen in the Terminator 3 movie (you’ll even get to see some film footage during cut scenes).  During one chapter, you’ll be in a cemetery facing an entire army of police officers and you’re forced to keep the casualties to zero while once again attempting to escape the T-X.  Each chapter does not stray from the shooting and driving, thus making it a bit linear but the action is always fast and intense.  Thanks to the challenging enemies, you’ll die more than a few times. Unfortunately you have to start from the very beginning of each chapter every time you do.  If there’s a game that could have used a checkpoint, this is it.


Rise of the Machines wasn’t incredibly horrible to look at since it did somewhat render the movie’s characters well enough.  This one, however, does a better job overall and you’ll love how much the T850 looks like Arnold.  The rest of the characters look amazingly like the actors, especially when it comes to the T-X model that certainly does justice to beautiful Kristanna Loken.  The effects are also extremely on the cool side.  When the T850 takes damage by plasma fire, its synthetic flesh is stripped off to reveal it silver endoskeleton underneath.  It’s a nice touch indeed, but not as nice as the cinematic visual effects and true to the movie franchise’s enemies and machines. 



If you’ve ever seen a Terminator movie, you know that the sound effects are both loud and amazing . . . even more so if you have an excellent sound system hooked up.  The cut scene and in-game action are all punctuated with plenty of auditory effects.  In the levels that take place in the future, you’ll hear the mechanical whirl of the Skynet patrol aircrafts, explosions, gunfire and cries of human resistance fighters getting slaughtered in the awful landscape.  The music sounds like it was ripped from the film and that’s okay since the film’s score is actually really good.  As far as the voice acting is concerned, Arnold lends his voice in a small portion of the game before a sound-alike takes his place during some of the cut scenes.  He’s got plenty of one-liners, though so you really won’t miss his voice much when the sound-alike takes his place.  Overall, this is some pretty great stuff.


Terminator 3: The Redemption is far from perfect but its improvements are a step in the right direction and consequently making it the best Terminator game so far.  There’s a nice gameplay variety found in The Redemption and this does spice up the action, but this is a novelty that wears off pretty quickly.  If you’re a fan of the Terminator series looking to play the game that should have been released the first time around, this is the one to play so do yourself the favor of renting it.   


#Review Scoring Details for Terminator 3: The Redemption


Gameplay: 7.3
Traditional . . . that’s the word that best describes the third-person shooting action The Redemption offers.  While considerably better than the first game bearing the Terminator 3 story, you’ll find that much of the action can get repetitive the more you play.  Still, the T850 is a destructive force that can also be upgraded with cooler features to make him even more powerful.  The driving sequences in the game are downright fun and the fact that the Terminator can hop on the enemy vehicles just makes the action all the more awesome.


Graphics: 8.2
So much better than Rise of the Machines.  The character models look a lot like their real life counterparts and watching Arnold smash Skynet machines with his face half ripped to shreds is a treat only fans of the Terminator movies can really appreciate.  The cut scenes mix animated sequences with footage from the film itself.  The overall visual effects are true to the movies as well and that’s a major plus in my book.


Sound: 8.0
The movie’s great score accompanies the game’s action and cinematic cut scenes and the sound effects are truly amazing to hear so crank the volume up.  The voice acting is decent and hearing Mister Schwarzenegger reprise his role with his mechanically dry delivery really does make the difference.  Unfortunately his voice is replaced somewhere in the middle of the game but with a good supporting cast (that sound a lot like Claire Danes and Nick Stahl) it more than makes up for it.


Difficulty: Medium
The action is non-stop and you’ll be surprised how incredibly challenging the game is right from the very beginning.  The enemy is relentless and systematic when it comes to launching assaults . . . funny thing really since the game’s enemy AI reacts the way the artificial intelligence of the Skynet computer‘s killer machines should act--relentless and systematic.  The T-X is also a formidable foe in this game; enough that she can make Arnold look like a really girly man when she knocks him around.


Concept: 6.9
The chapters touch on Terminator 3’s major plotlines and do a great job of mixing up the action.  There’s very little to go back to, though, when you finish the game.  The co-op Tech-Com Force Mode is a nice addition and there are some cool little extras that come in the form of concept art.  Other than that, there’s not much more to come back for when you’re done the first time around.


Multiplayer: 6.5
There’s a mini-game tossed into the game that can be played cooperatively with a friend and although there’s no real depth in this two-player mode it’s still fun to play through.  The game pits you and a friend aboard a Tech-Com helicopter (hence the name of the mini-game, Tech-Com Force Mode) as you both shoot Skynet enemies to clear a path for the T850 making its way into the enemy’s installation. 


Overall: 7.3
Don’t let the recent collection of Terminator titles scare you off from playing this action-packed shooter.  The Redemption is a game with a lot of variety and enough action to keep fans of the franchise better satisfied than the last attempt.  While there are times when much of what you do feels repetitious at times, the fast pace and challenging enemies will keep you more than busy.  Give this one a chance, it might just surprise you.



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