Terminator Salvation is yet another movie tie-in game that was recently released on May 19, 2009 in conjunction with the movie of the same title. This action/shooter game was developed by Halcyon Games, a recently created subsidiary of Halcyon Company who bought the rights of the Terminator franchise, as well as Swedish developer Grin who just developed Bionic Commando and Wanted: Weapons of Fate. In Terminator Salvation players control John Conner in a third person perspective in a story which takes place two years before the current movie in a desolate and decimated Los Angeles. While trying to escape the area John gets a transmission of a resistance team that needs help and against strict orders decides to attempt a rescue mission.
Can this movie tie-in game escape the cliché’s that fall upon most titles, or should this simply be terminated? Read on to find out.
While the concept seems interesting it just appears as if the game was rushed into and out of development with little thought given to the final product just to make a release window. This showed in many areas of the game including the lack luster graphics as well as the voice acting. This was the first time that during a game I could feel the disconnect between the in-game characters and their voice. The lack of emotion and drama was felt throughout the entire game and became an overall re-occurring theme.
Although the setting seemed like an interesting world to explore the gameplay didn’t allow you to do so instead leading you through a maze and in turn restricting any exploration. The game was very linear giving you basically only one way to proceed from combat area to combat area. The levels didn’t feel alive but simply transitioned you from one ruble riddled building to the next. The atmosphere was extremely bland making all of the areas look eerie similar. The levels were extensively broken up by distracting and bland load screens depicting the same image, again highlighting the lack of polish and detail put into the game.
As for the story, it was non-existent giving you no reason to care about the plot but instead used just as an excuse to keep moving from point A to point B. The gameplay was frequently broken up with lots of cut scenes which unsuccessfully attempted to flush out the plot that should have been reflected through gameplay. The story was average at best and basically just felt like a typical dull plain shooter that was neither compelling nor deep. The entire plot is based around your attempt to rescue a resistance team and your battle against Skynet to reach them, that’s it, no plot twist or turns. As the game progressed it actually got easier as the supply of rocket launchers and ammunition was plentiful almost trying to hurriedly wrap itself up for an abrupt ending without giving much detail or closure at all. The lack of polished continued to showed even after you died often times making you sit through an entire cut scene, which you just saw, in order to replay that specific mission objective. This of course is after you had to sit through an excessive load screen in order to initially play that mission.
The one aspect I was hoping the game would deliver on was the combat. However, again I was left disappointed as the combat was lackluster and clunky. The weapons and explosives were uninspiring without much variation and were sloppy both is use and in sound. Despite the negatives the combat did have one shining moment, the cover system. This mechanic was very intuitive and moving between cover was seamless, however the dependence on the cover was frustrating. The combat forced you to be tactical in your approach by moving between cover and flanking your enemies to shoot their weak spots. The problem however is in the AI, or lack thereof, in both the enemies and in your partners. Upon flanking your enemies you were often spotted causing the enemies to continuously shoot at your position while your partners endlessly sprayed at other targets. Therefore you had to eternally wait behind cover, or foolishly expose yourself, until your partner provided cover fire thus alerting the enemy of their position and in turn giving you the opportunity to take them out. The problem is that rarely happened making all of the firefight tedious and longer then they should have been. If the combat is going to force you to be strategic the rest of the game needs to follow suit but instead a majority of the time the AI simply did nothing. Consequently my only option was to use unresponsive and cumbersome controls to continually attack the same four enemies throughout the entire game without any variation in tactics or presentation. All of this left me eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the game, luckily I didn’t have to wait too long since the game can be completed in less than five hours.
You know those stereotypes of movie tie-in games we talked about? Games like Terminator Salvation are why those stereotypes exist. The game was in production for less than 24 months and it shows. Because of the shorter timeline the game fell into the same fate that most other movie tie-in games also fall into, lack of polish.
Regrettably due to the above mentioned problems I have never been so excited to see the credits roll. The flaws of this game seriously outweigh the positives and I was literally anticipating the end of this game. This is unfortunate since this title had so much potential to be a quality game that would complimented the movie. All in all it is a really basic game with only local co-op and no multiplayer or any other reason to replay it but is still offered at full retail price. Even the trophies, which can be had in one play through as they are all story based are not a good enough reason to pick this game up. Overall this was a very hard review to write since if I usually dislike a game I will simply stop playing it. But because I was attempting a review I was inclined to finish this game while still remaining objective.
Therefore, I cannot recommend purchasing this title nor can I recommend even renting this title. With the amount of quality games that are out your time will be much better spent playing those, even though it would be a quick play through I absolutely dreading playing this game knowing I could be playing something else. I hope to save you from that same regret. Even for the fans of the franchise or trophy whores alike I still can’t recommend purchasing or even renting this title, it was such a bore to actually finish.
After the pure fun and enjoyment I had with Wolverine this game just felt like a chore which is not what I want from my gaming sessions.
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