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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Infogrames

 

Developer

Paradigm Entertainment

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- Captures the time and place of the unseen aspects of the Terminator movies
- Control is a snap to learn
- Animation and sound is great

 

 

- Resident Evil-type camera cuts negatively affect practically everything and may actually induce migraines

 

 

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Terminator: Dawn of Fate

Score: 4.5 / 10

 

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Often the success (or failure) of a game can hinge on one feature or one critical design choice. Terminator: Dawn of Fate (DoF) succeeds in so many ways but fails in one that brings down the whole experience – if not terminating it outright.

Anyone familiar with the Terminator movies will instantly be at home here (but for those that aren’t, that’s okay – much is explained in the opening cinematic). At the start, you assume the role of Kyle Reese, a major force in the human resistance against the robotic Skynet organization that seeks to wipe out human life. Ultimately, Reese is sent back in time to save the future (no Doloreans involved) or at least protect Sarah Connor who will/has given birth to a son, John Connor, that

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will lead the human resistance. Interesting story (if somewhat a little tired): check.

There have been a few Terminator games but none have done justice to the license as DoF does. The details are sharp, recreating the post-nuclear L.A. (and other locales) and all the technological horrors one would expect (and that we catch an all-too-brief glimpse of in Terminator 2). This

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carries over to the cinematics – it’s like the lost prelude to the first Terminator movie. In-game animation is good too, even if the character dialogue doesn’t always hit the mark. So, recreated movie sets: check.

Where almost everything falls apart is the fumbling camera work, which makes controlling your on-screen character a migraine-inducing experience. There was an attempt to model (or at least mimic) Resident Evil’s pre-assigned camera angles. This works for Resident Evil (RE) largely because it moves at a slower pace than DoF – and RE’s camera cuts make sense. DoF has camera angle shifts reminiscent of exploding popcorn – you never know what’s going to happen next, what angle is going to thrown at you. And nearly every time the camera shifts you have to get your bearings as to where you are and what door you just came through. It also makes it difficult to find targets (or who’s shooting you). Some confusion can be eliminated by switching to 1st Person mode. The bad news is that you can’t move, only aim. Although this helps blow the heads of T-800s, once you come out of 1st Person, you have to get your bearings again.

 

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The design is schizophrenic – I wish someone on the design team had piped up and said, “Let’s make it strictly a first-person shooter,” or “How about we use something like Computer Artworks in The Thing?” As it is, the camera is a mess and it drains nearly all the fun out of the action, story, and setting.

So, camera: Migraine inducing.

If the camera work had been revamped it wouldn’t have gotten in the way of the controls, which are a snap to learn. There’s only one improvement I’d make: getting rid of the adrenaline button. Its affects are marginal at best. Everything else is fine. Switching weapons, locking onto an enemy, rolling out of the line of fire, controlling heavy turrets, etc. – all simple to learn but impossible to master thanks to the camera. Oh, and maybe I'd make the T-800 capable of withstanding a sweep kick.

If you’re a Terminator fan, by all means check out Dawn of Fate. All others wait until a time machine is invented so someone can go back and talk some sense to the design team to change the critical flaw. (I’m hoping Paradigm can pull it together for any potential sequels.)

- Omni
(October 26, 2002)

 

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