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It's not a tumour...

By Martin Kingsley

Terminator 3: Redemption

"I'm the Governator. Vote 1 for apocalypse..."

For a while there, one could have been forgiven for thinking the ever-faithful Terminator franchise was beginning to flat line.

With the less-than-critically-acclaimed Terminator 3 movie heading straight to DVD almost immediately following cinematic release, and the life-threateningly appalling videogame spin-off of the same name liquefying cerebral cortexi everywhere, things were most definitely looking grim for Arnold and Co.

So it is with relief that we view Terminator 3: Redemption, the first half-decent Terminator game since Bethesda's Future Shock first-person shooters, made nearly a decade previous.

Taking on the role of a T-800 killer robot, one must fight one's way through a war-torn future landscape and go back in time to prevent, once again, John Connor's assassination, in this case by a chesty model-turned-robot who could quite possibly knot your arms behind your back faster than you can say 'third-degree retroassociative complicity'.

Playing out a mixture of various scenes from the third movie and some new future levels, and interspersed with not-really-all-that-impressive CGI footage crafted especially for the game, Redemption is, in essence, a no-brainer shoot-em-up.

Surprisingly, it stays entertaining for a quite significant amount of time, not thanks to innovative gameplay or amazing eye-candy (though it is occasionally quite impressive), but rather the frenetic nature of the action on offer.

Terminator 3: Redemption

The particle effects are nice, as are the cult
one-liners "You can't handle da troooth!!"

Every level is essentially divided into two sections, on-foot and vehicular combat. In the beginning of each level, you wander about and dispose of Skynet lackeys with either your trusty assault rifle or a snappily deployed clenched fist.

Playing with the various buttons at one's disposal allows you to perform combos, and on occasion you can take to the masses with various bits of level-strewn paraphernalia.

A big crowd-pleaser is seeing Ahnuld meting out swift and final justice with the sharp end of a broken street sign.

Towards the end of a level, you commandeer some type of armoured transportation and race towards an inevitable boss fight, gunning down or running over everything in your way, batting away insistent androids from the chassis with the occasional button press.

In all honesty, the vehicles in Redemption are one of the real highlights of the game; from Virtua Cop-esque on-rails helicopter rides to wheeling about blasted cityscapes in the tray of a supercharged 4x4 utility, with the choice to leap onto and annex other vehicles if and when the opportunity presents itself. The handling is so fun and the pace so fast you won't want to stop playing for fear of contracting whiplash.

Unfortunately, as good as the automotive sections of the game are, it's impossible not to notice the repetition present in Redemption. Levels follow the same slapdash formula over and over, and the novelty of being the Terminator wears off fast, lasting, at best, three or four missions before giving up the ghost entirely. There are only so many robots you're willing to kill before things get old.

Terminator 3: Redemption

Vehicular combat is fast-paced and good fun

Which is where the pretty graphics come in. Modelled and textured with great care, Redemption can be pretty impressive on the Xbox (and even on the ageing PS2), and nowhere more so than in the detailed Ahnuld model.

With a damage model that slowly but surely reveals the stainless steel endoskeleton beneath it's Austrian exterior, a fair few polygons and some very nice animations (particularly for the many and various hand-to-hand combos), the level of work put in is far superior to that seen in most non-franchise videogames, which is strange.

Unfortunately, the explosions (arguably the most important part of any self-respecting action epic) in T3: Redemption are particularly dodgy-looking, and as such offset all the abovementioned good work, along with an Arnie-soundalike voice actor (Mark Mosley) called in to replace, in the lead role, everyone's favourite Governor. While it's a good impression, I'm afraid it's just not the same.

Once you get over the regrettably short-lived single player campaign and the prettiness of the character models, there's only one thing left, and that's multiplayer - in this case split-screen co-op. Which, I must admit, sounds quite cool on paper but fails masterfully to live up to it's promise.

Instead it delivers a particularly lazy two player on-rails shooter where trying to tell the enemies apart from the good guys requires superhuman vision, and more than five minutes of continuous play leads to your brain leaking out your ear. You'd probably get more kick from sticking a fork into an electrical socket. Definitely more kick, come to think of it.

Still, better than the movie upon which it is based in many ways (thank God), and in oh-so-many-ways a cut above its videogame predecessor, Terminator 3: Redemption is a good rental and maybe even a good buy when the price is right. Finally, Terminator fans have something to smile about.

Game: Terminator 3: Redemption
System
: Xbox
Players
: 1-2
Online: No
Developer: Paradigm Entertainment
Distributor: Atari

Rating: 70%


(Ratings Key/Explanation)

Terminator 3: Redemption is on the shelves now.



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