- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Here’s a look at some hardware and software that’s available:

• “Terminator 3: The Redemption,” from Atari for Xbox, GameCube and PlayStation 2. (Rated T: content suitable for ages 13 and older, $39.99.)

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the director’s-cut-DVD concept invading the video-game arena. Well, a weird permutation of that premise finds a game based on a film adding to the film’s storyline, in the form of an action-packed third-person adventure that puts a single player in control of a pop-culture icon.

Last year’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” saga featured Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his robotic role as a series T-850 Infiltrator sent to the past to protect future leader of mankind John Connor from a morphing T-X cyber-organism and prevent the machines of Skynet from unleashing Judgment Day.

The game mirrors the movie experience by melding clips of the film with computer-generated scenes, an intense musical score and cinematic battlegrounds. But the game also throws in a few new plot twists while offering a more in-depth look at the back story.

Fans not only see the circumstances surroundingthe death of John Connor in 2032, including how his robotic assassin was captured and reprogrammed by the resistance, but also witness the sultry cybernetic T-X organism entering a time-displacement device sans clothing (backside prominently displayed) and looking just like the actress (Kristanna Loken) from the film.

The game action revolves around a trio of challenges for the player. Spread over 14 levels, these range from fist-to-fist combat to driving a motorcycle and a hearse. There even is rail shooting on helicopters, which means a player blasts at passing objects while being led on a predetermined course.

The game does an outstanding job of creating a fictional universe and immersing players in various versions of Los Angeles. The players have fun abilities, such as ripping out opposing Terminators’ power cells to use as high-powered explosive devices, using dismantled endoskeletons for protection, re-energizing the T-850 by stomping on fallen comrades, and even grabbing a pole and impaling a metallic enemy.

The fights and explosions come fast and furious and will give even the most seasoned of gamers the sweats. Gamers jump aboard a souped-up pickup truck to hunt down a flying death machine while wading through hostile T-800s and killer tanks.

Additionally, all the principal film actors’ likenesses are re-created, and Arnold does a fair amount of the voice-over work for the T-850.

Extras called “Terminator moments” add final icing to the movielike mayhem as, during certain missions, the T-850 can execute super stunt work that even Superman would appreciate.

• “Alias: The Complete Third Season,” from Buena Vista Home Entertainment for DVD-enabled computers and home entertainment centers, $69.99.

Actress Jennifer Garner’s vehicle to stardom has been around three years on the ABC network, and creators celebrate with an eclectic DVD set to please fans and occasional viewers.

Besides the 22 episodes of the spy drama contained within six discs, the set provides a trio of interesting extras, in addition to obligatory production featurettes, deleted scenes and cast commentaries.

First, a seven-minute cartoon has been created especially for the DVD to further embellish the mythology of the lead character, Sydney Bristow, and her ability to covertly cause mayhem.

Second, an optional commentary track allows two fans of the show, one of whom was selected from a contest, to offer their refreshing opinions on the first episode of season three. That is correct: Fans and not experts analyze a show, and they pull no punches.

Finally, inserting the third disc into a PC reveals a script scanner for the episode “Conscious.” The little innovation allows users to compare the script to the final version of the television show, synchronized as text scrolls and the video plays.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski at The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (jszadkowski@washington times.com).

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