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December 20, 2003
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
5/12/2003AtariBlack Ops1M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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A one-on-one fight.
As many of you will know I'm a massive Arnie fan. Ever since I was a young boy his movies captured my imagination, and I still a massive fan to this day. Anything to do with him, or his movies, will get my interest, as this game did. A couple of years ago when rumours of a Terminator 3 movie started growing I was among the first to cheer. Early reviews weren't favourable and the buzz grew that the movie was a major disappointment. Fortunately, the truth was quite different as Terminator 3, while not as good as the previous movies, was still one of the best movies this year. It's worldwide gross of just under $US420 million ($AU600 million) places it as the 5th biggest movie this year. Not bad for an action star who, according to many, is well past his used by date. Still Atari were betting on a successful movie, and grabbed the rights to develop games set in the Terminator universe. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is the first game to hit consoles.

As expected this game follows the plot of the movie fairly closely, although it does include some new scenes and locations, and unless you've seen the movie the game can jump from one action scene to the next with little to explain how, or why, you've changed locations. In an interesting move the game allows you to control the Terminator both before, and after being reprogrammed meaning you also get to fight the human resistance in 2029. The majority of this game is a First Person Shooter, but a very poor one at that. Even with around 20 futuristic and modern-day weapons (including the SkyNet Arc-Laser, Tech-Com Micro Rocket Launcher and the AR-15 Assault Rifle with M202 Grenade Launcher), and several different enemies, it can become rather stale. Sadly, the FPS sections of this game are well below that expected in todays games.

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Fairly pointless infra-red view.
Accuracy in the game is hampered due to sluggish controls and a low frame rate while the enemy (and friend) AI is stupid to say the least. Friendly non-playable characters don't duck for cover, but rather run straight into it. You character can also get stuck on some of the smallest items. Even the smallest slab of concrete lying on the ground will stop him dead. Also annoying is the lack of ammo littered around the levels at times. You'll often run out of ammo at a crucial moment and it becomes quite annoying.

Another main component of this game are the one-on-one fights between Arnold's character, the T-800 (not T-101 as they state in the movie!), and Kristanna Loken's character, the TX. During this mode the X button acts as punch, triangle as kick, circle as grab/throw and square as block. It must be said that the action is very stiff and the difficulty, even on the hardest level, is very low. The only good thing about this is the way the T-800 takes damage, which is not only visible, but also affects his movement. One of the strangest things in this game (and any game for that matter) is the way the one-on-one fights between the two terminators ends with a strange wrestling type hold before kicking out, abruptly, to a movie. Why not show them crumpling to the ground, or at least run off to fight another day? Strange.

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In the cemetery.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is also an extremely short game, after the dozen or so missions set in the future it's back to the present, and the levels become extremely brief (some only take a couple of minutes). The last 15 missions or so only take a couple of hours to complete, and you won't go back for more.

So why would you bother playing through this entire game? Well you wouldn't, except for the numerous extras which are unlocked by completing the missions. These not only include the terrific CG cut-scenes between the levels, but also concept art from the game and movie, production photos, extra scenes and behind the scenes videos. Perhaps the weirdest unlockable, however, are the original versions of Centipede and Missile Command while the best extra by far is the demo of Terminator: Redemption which is infinantly better then this game, and is due for release on PS2 in mid-late 2004. All-up it's a pretty decent bunch of extras, although many are already on the T3 DVD in better quality. I guess if you're considering buying this game, you would already have the DVD anyway.

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Arnold's CG likeness.
Using the same (poor) graphics engine from Fugitive Hunter the developers were always going to be limited in how good this game could look, but the development team has discovered ways to make a bad graphics engine look even worse. The levels are bland with extremely poor texturing on the walls and background while the frame rate struggles to cope barely raising above around 20fps. The animations are, well, verging on non-existant despite the use of motion capture. The terminators lack realistic (even machine type) movement, as do the humans, and there is no sense of realism as a Terminator positioned right next to an explosion will react exactly the same as one 10 meters away from it. The only redeeming features graphically in this game are the good models of Arnold and co, and the rather nice cut-scenes. There not brilliant, but do give you a sense of the Terminator universe, particularly in the future. Strangely at times the game uses real film from the movie (for instance, the crane chase) which may have been done to save time, or money, or simply so the publishers can promote the game as including real footage from the movie. Who knows.

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Time to start shooting.
One of the most pleasing aspects of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is the sound. Surprisingly the developers have opted for DTS which, to put it bluntly, shits all over Dolby Pro Logic II which is being used in so many other games. The developers obtained the rights to use Brad Fidel's classic score from T1 and T2 (and which was sorely missed from the third movie). This music is used in the menus and sets the mood perfectly. Sadly the music in the actual game is very forgettable. Sound effects such as gunfire and explosions leave a lot to be desired as they are very weak. While Claire Daines wasn't interested in participating in this game (which is probably a good move) Nick Stahl and Arnold Schwarzenegger have provided voice acting for use in the game, and it's a great addition adding much authenticity to the game.

During it's development Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had four different developers contributing to the game. While Black Ops are the official developers apparently Shiny, Legend Entertainment, and Melbourne House all contributed to the game in some way. Sadly the game, possibly as a result of so many development teams, is a complete shambles. The levels are boring, the graphics pathetic (except for the cut scenes which are good) and the sound effects are weak. This could have been a good title, hell I'd even be happy with something playable, but this game isn't. The only redeeming feature are the numerous unlockable items. A complete waste, even for die hard Terminator and Arnie fans.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSChugging frame rate, poor textures, bust fairly good cut scenes.
SOUNDDTS sound, plenty of theme music but poor effects and explosions.
GAMEPLAYSo derivative and flat that you'll tire within 30 minutes.
VALUEThe redemption: Plenty of art work, photos and videos to unlock.
OVERALLThe one game I am looking for the most, and it turns out to be the biggest disappointment. This is nowhere near the quality of the movie and is truly a waste of your money. Even I, probably one of the biggest Arnie fans in Australia, struggled to enjoy this title. Leave it well alone.

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