Terminator 3: War of the Machines

War of the Machines is essentially “Battlefield 2042: Terminator.†It’s humans versus machines, with 32-player Internet and LAN play, lots of vehicles, different maps set in all sorts of post-nuclear worlds – a ruined ocean harbor, devastated highways, Tech Com and SkyNet bases, crumbling factories, downtown future Los Angeles, etc.

3_1The concept behind Terminator 3 was undeniably cool. Humans and machines would have eight different classes, and while people would get to drive 15-20 vehicles, some of the machine units were to fly vehicles. You get the standard human classes that are part of the Tech Com Special Forces such as scouts, supply crewmen, hunters, and heavy hunters, but the machines of SkyNet get cool T900a Infiltrators (like Arnie in the movies), T900 Endoskeletons, exoskeletons, plus hovercraft units. Gameplay is a mix of arena game modes like deathmatch and assaults.

The choice of fighting as either the puny humans or formidable Terminators makes it immediately obvious where each faction’s strengths lie. The humans are nimble and have access to a greater variety of weaponry but their flesh is weak and their bones snap easy. The Terminators are biased towards plodding chunks of metal that lack speed and tactical awareness, being more akin to bipedal tanks. These disadvantages are further represented by their inability to crouch or go prone. Arnie features as a bonus character on the human side.

Compensating for its limited arsenal, Skynet boasts the infiltrator and the FK. The latter is a small, airborne Terminator that buzzes about like a killer bee but, critically, is unable to capture map objectives so it must hold them until foot soldiers can arrive. Flying an FK and firing its deadly pulse lasers at anyone stupid enough to get in the way is probably the most fun you can have as a Skynet employee, as many of the larger maps take too long for the tardy Terminators to traverse.

6_1All of this has the ingredients of a great game on paper, but the solo portion of Terminator 3 is ravaged by a too limited AI. Taking cover inside one Skynet spawn point, I was appalled to see terminator after terminator amble past me, many continuing on their way as I fired into their backs, others breaking off attacks on me for no apparent reason. The humans aren’t much better either, suddenly going prone for no reason, getting stuck in doorways or scenery and being unable to use the vehicles scattered around each the larger maps.

The main bulk of the game was supposed to be played online (scratch the singleplayer mode, it’s nearly worthless), but even at the time of its release there was a major shortage of game servers. One reason might have been the terribly optimized game engine – slowdowns were common, despite the game looking at least two years behind. Or it might be the forgettable and often too dark maps. Maps that include vehicles, but which are often pointless distractions given the claustrophobic layout of most locations. There’s plenty to nitpick and complain about, which is probably why you should downgrade to the older (and better) Terminator games.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 2 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB Video, WinXP

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