Title  : The Terminator: Dawn of Fate
Platforms  : PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox
Publisher  : Infogrames
ESRB Rating  : Teen
Game Rating  : 6.8
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Sequels seldom surpass the brilliance of the original work. However, there is a no more sterling example of an exception than Terminator 2. I have few hopes next year's T3 film will be its equal, and if Terminator: Dawn of Fate, an Xbox and PlayStation 2 game from Infogrames, is any indication, my fears are justified. [PS2 version reviewed here] 

Dawn of Fate is set in the bleak future of the year 2027, long after the nuclear holocaust known as Judgment Day. The war against Skynet and its armada of machines is coming to a head, leading up to the events of the first Terminator movie. Players begin as that film's hero, Kyle Reese, occasionally switching to other characters in leader John Connor's resistance group. 

The 3D action consists of battling various endos and fakies (bipedal robots), HKs (hunter/killers), and other machines. Schwarzenegger's T-800 model is rarely seen, and its lesser counterparts, though they can take a beating from even futuristic weaponry, are far more destructible. 

Regardless of the technology involved, Dawn of Fate dwindles down to little more than consecutive endurance matches. Each room, plaza, and area is teeming with Skynet's troops, requiring the humans to clear out the area. For every robot that falls, another takes its place, until that area's supply is exhausted. The door to the next room then opens, allowing players to repeat the process. Each level requires various tasks to be completed, but it's battling through the waves of cybernetics that's the challenge. 

As in the movies, pieces of Skynet technology can be collected and used to research new hardware. Though a neat device, this gameplay mechanism is no different from finding money to spend in a shop between levels, upgrading the player's offensive and defensive capabilities. 

Unlike the seamlessly integrated worlds of most video games, loading times disjoin the rooms of the shattered buildings players traverse, demanding they wait several seconds when passing through doors. Various cut scenes are dramatic and accurately depict the war-torn future, but sometimes these interruptions come too often. 

The gameplay graphics are appropriately dark for the game's grim setting. The camera, however, suddenly shifts perspectives as Reese runs along a corridor or down a flight of stairs, requiring players to reorient the direction of their movement. This annoyance is even more bothersome in the heat of combat, complicating the already imprecise targeting system. Reese takes an accurate bead on his assailant, but selecting a specific one from many can take several moments while caught in a crossfire. Fortunately, the difficulty setting can be adjusted to compensate for these unfair grievances. 

Dawn of Fate is akin to the terminators it depicts: cold, hard, and lifeless. It is not a game flawed beyond playability, but one that fails to engage the player in any emotion. You'd best leave this one on the assembly line.


This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 22-Oct-02