Mankind forced to near extinction, nuclear holocaust, time travel, Christian Bale, Arnold Schwarzenegger and robots. What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, the video game. I forgot about it just as soon as I completed it. GRIN and Halcyon Company have combined their efforts to develop the much anticipated Hollywood blockbuster video game, Terminator Salvation. And although the films have proven to be pretty epic so far, does the video game live up to the ‘Terminator’ title?
The game takes place in the year 2016, and it falls two years prior to the fourth film. You assume the role of John Conner in his years before taking command of the ‘resistance.’ Because of Conner’s inspiration alone, he persuades whoever he meets on the battlefield to help him rescue a small unit in a hot zone of terminators.
I hate to admit it, but I spoiled the whole entire story of the game. The game raises some interesting questions that would lead to a deeper storyline, but it never attempts to provide any insightful information. For example, Angie (a soldier who assists your endeavors) asks Conner, “Why are you trying to save these men?” This is a very valid question.
Conner vaguely replies, “If that was you, wouldn’t you want me to save you?” That’s grand and everything, but seriously Conner, why are you saving these people? Aside from the films, there is no back story that would provide answers to Conner’s motives. Similarly, there are no details about how the ‘resistance’ was formed, and where the hell did Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) come from? There is just not enough content for such a huge game. Ideally, the game should be renamed A Day in the Life of John Conner.
Aside from the feeble plot, the game play is actually very well designed. Although it closely resembles the Gears of War cover system, the developers did an excellent job of translating it. Not to mention, the developers took full advantage of Nvidia’s PhysX engine, so taking up flanking positions, moving from one barrier to the next, blind firing, throwing grenades, watching mass explosions and witnessing debris flying through the air is fairly entertaining and a bit exhilarating.
Similarly, the enemy artificial intelligence (AI) is pretty well done. As you try to take flanking positions, enemies will back up or face you making it challenging for you to get behind them. On the other hand, this would work much better if your team shared the same IQ.
When you manage to surround the enemy, your team runs back and forth from barrier to barrier not advancing the flank or taking out the machines. Pretty much, you’re the bait, and you’re also the death dealer. You’ll waste your grenades and run out of ammo before Blair fires five bullets from her endless supply of ammunition.
Aside from stupid teammates, there are a few other things that irritated me with the game play. It follows a strict linear system with no room for deviation. There’s no optional choices to be made that will change the ending, there’s no perk system or RPG style of leveling, etc. Although entertaining, there isn’t any change up in style of play.
You’ll run between cover trying to obliterate T-600s, and you’ll play as the gunner on a vehicle rails system taking out motorcycle droids. You’ll never encounter any epic boss battles and you’ll fight the same enemies throughout. At the end, you will run across a bridge and the game will be over. Basically, the game lacks the originality that comes within the franchise.
The environments and robots are graphically well designed. The war torn streets of Los Angeles, the car junkyard highways and the murky hopelessness of the subways are just a few of the environments you’ll encounter. Because of the environments, you’ll feel a sense of hopelessness that can only be redeemed if lives are sacrificed.
Similarly, the robots are detailed and look awesome when you inflict damage on them. Their plasma cores will emit a blue light from their war torn bodies. Also, if you manage to get close enough to shoot a machine from behind, you can see the bullet holes.
Overshadowed from the awesome graphics are the mediocre human character designs. When Moon Bloodgood (Blair Williams) and Common (Barnes) allowed creators to design them in the game, and also provided the voiceovers, I thought to myself, “This is going to be awesome.” But when Christian Bale declined to be apart of the project, my opinion sharply changed.
I don’t know what the problem is between Bale and the developers, but I felt a bit cheated not seeing him as the protagonist. I know the developers can only do so much, but it reflects the game poorly. Similarly, human animations are as rigid and stiff as the robots, and the weapon details are flat and boring.
The developers decided to add a co-op feature to the game, but forgot to implement the online play. Players are forced to share a screen to duke it out with Skynet. Not to mention, there is no versus mode or any other co-operative experience to prolong the hype of the game.
This is the shortest game I’ve ever played in my life, and there is absolutely no replay value. The game will last you a measly four hours to complete from beginning to end. Many players will find themselves playing the game a second time around on hard just to get some value out of a $60 console game ($50 for PC). I played it on medium first and then played it on hard right after.
I actually finished the game faster on hard. Once you become familiar with the controls you can probably blow through this game within two to three hours. But like I said before, there is no incentive to replay this game more than once. The story is not enough to give it its value.
Finally, there are some high points to the game, but basically it comes across as one huge marketing scheme. This is evidently denoted by all the little subliminal advertising within the game. For example, at one point in the game, Conner needs some kind of technical instrument to control the guns of a huge robot, which happens to appear out of no where.
Right at that moment, a refugee shows up and hands him a laptop with the Alienware insignia plastered right on the cover. All they did was take a pre-existing game (Gears of War), throw in some robots, come up with an on the spot story line, hire a low expense actor, give it the ‘Terminator’ title and slap a $60 price tag on it. The game play is entertaining, so stick to renting this title. You’ll feel a bit duped and a bit outraged if you buy it.
You have the advantage of using the keyboard and mouse, which will allow switching between weapons and grenades much easier. Not to mention, the developers have included the option of using a controller. The draw back is that I could not get the controller to work at all. It seems the only controller you can use is the Xbox 360 game pad. There are no achievements or rewards to be earned; aside from resolution, you can not change any of the video settings; and there is no online play. The developers added the co-operative play, but it plays out just like the console, split screen. Also, this game requires a beastly system. It recommends the highest settings I have ever seen for any PC game on the market: Intel Dual-Core @ 2.8GHz, Nvidia 8600 and about 8GB of space. For how much the game costs and the system requirements, the game runs smooth, and I yet to encounter any bugs or glitches.
[Version Tested: PC]
The game has a very action packed introduction and is visually aesthetic as well. The menus are clean and easy to navigate. The environments are gorgeous, but the story line lacks tremendously and no Christian Bale is a letdown.
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The game play is exciting, but it lacks originality, variance and no epic boss battles.
Common and Moon Goodblood’s voices are a pleasure, but where did Bale go?
For a $60 price tag and four hours of fun that equals $15 an hour. Stick to renting this game. You’ll get everything out of it for a fraction of the cost.
This game will leave you feeling like you just got robbed. For a short amount of time, you’ll have fun, but once it’s over, pack your bags because that is it.