It has been just short of a year since the last game to bear the Terminator 3 namesake was released, and it's probably safe to say that the last thing most players were clamoring for was yet another Terminator 3 game. This is primarily because the last set of T3 games to come out--Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines for the PS2, Xbox, and GBA, and Terminator 3: War of the Machines for the PC--were nothing short of awful. Evidently, however, Atari clearly felt that the T3 license still had legs, and the publisher has shown its faith by bringing out Terminator 3: The Redemption for the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube. It's actually rather funny, as the name The Redemption seems all too apt when describing this latest Terminator title, because it turns out that this one is actually pretty good. That's not to say that the game is particularly special, but it's a more than serviceable shooter with its share of strong points, which is good news for Terminator fans.
In between budget meetings and reports on fiscal solvency, Arnold Schwarzenegger has returned once again to terminate another evil cyborg sent by Skynet.
Like last year's games, The Redemption somewhat closely follows the plot of the Terminator 3 film, in which yet another cybernetic agent of the evil Skynet has been sent back in time to kill off John Connor, the future hero of the human race in their war against the machines. You again play as Arnold Schwarzenegger's model 101 T-800 Terminator, sent back to the past to protect John and save the future. All of this is probably pretty obvious to anyone who has seen the movie, but in an interesting twist, Redemption actually takes a couple of liberties with the plot of the film. We won't give away any of the new plot points, but it seems like many of them were put in to help stretch out what is, in essence, a two-hour long story. It works to a degree, though the new story points are a tad silly. Then again, the whole Terminator plotline has always been a bit goofy to begin with, so these few slightly unbelievable sequences don't seem out of place.
From the get-go, T3: The Redemption may seem like just another generic third-person shooter, but in actuality, it's actually a combination of a third-person shooter, a rail shooter, and a driving game. All three types of play are spread throughout each of the game's 14 missions, and some missions even require a combination of two types of play within the same mission. One moment you'll be running through the postapocalyptic war zone of the future, punching and shooting nasty T-900s on foot, and the next you'll be commandeering one of the vehicular machines by punching your way into its central circuits and driving around the level, destroying anything that comes into your path. It is with this level of variety that T3 finds its highest level of success.
Moreover, each of the three core styles of gameplay is implemented fairly well, if a bit simplistically. The third-person action stuff is probably the least enjoyable of the three, though that is not to say that it's bad. Controlling Arnold is easy enough, despite the fact that he moves rather slowly (though realistically, for a big, clunky cyborg, we suppose). The combat is pretty rudimentary, consisting of some very basic hand-to-hand attacks that can be strung together, as well as a few different gun types you can use throughout the course of the game. Most of the combos are pretty button masher-like, in that only a couple of them actually serve a specific purpose, like one that lets you draw energy out of a downed Terminator to help boost your health, and another that lets you take the weapon of your fallen opponent. The rest are just quick combos that can be strung together out of practically any combination of button presses. The weapon combat while on foot usually just consists of locking onto an enemy, shooting, and then running away periodically if that enemy happens to be heavily armed.
Don't let the T-X's attractive appearance fool you; she'll cut you, and cut you deep.
The driving and rail-shooting portions of Redemption are, fortunately, significantly more interesting than the on-foot portions. Rail-shooting missions tend to be pretty static in terms of objectives, usually placing you on the roof of a car or hanging outside of a helicopter, and then charging you with the task of shooting attacking vehicles as they come at you or blowing away enemy Terminators. Depending on the mission, you'll sometimes have a secondary weapon at your disposal, in addition to your typical machine gun, shotgun, or laser cannon, such as a grenade or rocket launcher, which allows for a bit more in the way of impact. Furthermore, in some of the missions where you're attached to the car, though you won't be controlling the car itself, you do have the ability to make the car change lanes, revealing a few alternate paths as well as the ability to dodge attacking vehicles.
Driving missions are perhaps the most varied of all. In one mission, for example, you'll be driving a hearse in the infamous graveyard scene, attempting to ram a SWAT van in order to knock the officers out of it, while also trying to keep the villainous T-X from jumping on top of the van. In the next mission, you'll be driving the same hearse, but you're now trying to keep the T-X off of your car by making hard turns and driving through side routes with obstacles that send her flying off. Other driving missions involve a fair amount of shooting, whereas others simply involve trying to keep up with an enemy vehicle. The driving mechanics, though very simple and mostly without any real crash physics, are still fun, and considering how many different types of driving missions there are, it's doubtful you'll find yourself bored with them.
What is perhaps most surprising about T3: The Redemption is actually how difficult it is. The mission objectives presented to you before each level are reasonably intuitive, but it will usually take you at least a few tries on each mission to get the hang of exactly what you need to do to survive. Adding to the difficulty is the sheer amount of ways you can die throughout most every mission. Be it an onslaught of enemy machines or a seemingly unstoppable attack by the T-X, there is no single mission in the game (save for, perhaps, the very first one) that is likely to be beatable on your first try. In fact, some missions are likely going to take you about a dozen tries to beat. While this does lend itself to more frustration than fun, the missions themselves are usually good enough that you will want to keep coming back to try again. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting to occasionally chuck your controller across the room in despondency.