The Terminator franchise finally gets a decent computer game
The original Terminator came out in the before days of 1984. I was 9 years old. I can’t remember exactly why, but my Mum let me watch it with her when I was about 14. I remember being bored :p
A couple of years later, Terminator 2 was the BIG THING. My friends and I watched it multiple times. Not the perfect movie by any means, but it captured my imagination in many ways. Time Travel and consequences were simplified. Well, to an extent. It is a convoluted logic train at the best of times. There were lots of explosions, and the T-1000 was terrific to watch morph.
At the time, I didn’t have a computer that could play new games well. Doom was fun, but almost all of us were drooling at the idea of The Terminator 2029.
I remember some of my friends being excited that Terminator 2: Judgement Day was coming to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The gloating during the countdown before they could play it.
What I remember most is the silence after they played it. I didn’t know anyone that enjoyed it, and a lot of Terminator games since had a similar low quality.
The only Terminator game I remember playing was Terminator 2: Judgement Day at the arcade. This was an Operation Wolf style gun game that had very little to do with the movie, but was still a lot of fun.
The idea of the paradoxical loop presented by The Terminator always intrigued me. It opened the door to so many possibilities – and so many headaches. Skynet wouldn’t exist if it didn’t send a Terminator back in time to give Cyberdyne the push to create the learning CPU.
Doctor Who addresses such paradoxes as ‘Fixed Points in Time’, inviolate events that must occur. This convenient narrative fix came about after decades of debate. Personally, I still prefer the throwaway “wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff”, but Fixed Points in Time does stop a lot of arguments. While starting others.
The Terminator films started to get into these alternate theories and complicating the storylines further. Terminator: Dark Fate, the latest Terminator film, basically ignores any films between Terminator 2 and itself. Without seeing it (I didn’t get time at the cinemas), the natural reasoning as to why they are ignored is “Those Timelines didn’t eventuate”. Narrative reset 101.
You know what other story ignores those films? Terminator: Resistance.
So what has all this to do with the game?
Like all paradoxes, nothing and everything. I am a Terminator film fan. I think it’s clear I have a bias toward the franchise and the idea of time travel as a whole.
Terminator: Resistance is its own game. It has it’s own characters, and is set after Judgment Day – a period only glimpsed in the movies.
If you had never seen the first two movies, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. You would miss some great in-jokes and easter eggs, but that’s it.
Teyon has made a fantastic fan love letter to the original series, and it shows. But the story is it’s own. You play a totally new character, and while you hear the name John Connor bandied about, it is given context within the story. You are given all you need to know to play, and extras are cleverly woven in.
OK, enough of what the game is about, what sort of game is it?
This is harder to answer than you might imagine. I can’t tell you what sort of game Terminator: Resistance is. Why not? Because I don’t think it knows. It’s like a lot of games, but it doesn’t really commit to any style. It is a first-person style adventure game with shooting and character-building elements, similar to Skyrim or Fallout 3. Similar, but not quite.
At the start of the game, you have relatively standard ballistic weaponry. Pistols, rifles, that kind of thing. They do allow you to shoot down drones, but Terminator units? Your best bet is sneak around unnoticed. The semi-open world gives you lots of options to do this, and the goggles allow you to see robots through walls. Think Arkham Batman Detective Mode.
During the story, you meet other survivors of Judgment Day and help them enough for them to get you to the resistance. Or you help them with various other jobs and earn their trust. Think any RPG with quest givers that can influence the story, like Skyrim or Mass Effect.
Rewards for exploration can be trade resources (virtually cash) or items that allow you to craft items. These items can be first aid, weapons or ammo. There are plenty of games that have this mechanic these days. But of course, if you can craft, why not upgrade your weapons? Yes, this is present as well.
There is even a hacking mini-game bought back by games like BioShock. The most significant difference is the old Pipe Dream style game has been replaced by Frogger.
That’s what games it’s like, but what sort of game is Terminator: Resistance?
And here is the crux of the problem. A lot of solid mechanics have been mixed together well. Just not well enough to make Terminator: Resistance its own game.
It’s not an Adventure/RPG, it’s not a shooter, nor a stealth game. It’s Terminator: Resistance, and what it does is done well enough. It’s just not incredible.
I enjoyed playing through the story and getting another glimpse into the Terminator universe. The only characters I can remember that wasn’t John Connor is Baron and The Stranger.
The story depth just isn’t there though. The dialogue is terrible at times, and the choices presented are largely meaningless until the close credits. There are checkboxes to modern features in the game, but nothing shines out as ‘must do’.
I really enjoyed playing Terminator: Resistance. For all it’s faults, it is a solid experience. They keep the source materials tone for better or worse. Yes, the twists are pretty obvious. The voice acting borders on ridiculous at some points. The Terminators can’t hit the side of a barn with the first few shots.
But if you watch the sections of the future in the movies, this was just how it was presented. The music and sound effects are movie perfect, and not having the most profound story is appropriate under the circumstances.
So should I buy it?
And here is the problem. If you are a Terminator fan and/or you have nothing else to play, sure. If you want to play games like The Witcher or Cyberpunk 2077, but the scope concerns you? Terminator Resistance is an excellent introduction to what you can do.
Like shooters, but you are learning, or your reflexes aren’t there? Playing Terminator: Resistance on normal won’t punish you for this. Want to be punished? Play on the harder levels, where you don’t have time to react to being seen in the open.
If you buy Terminator: Resistance on Steam, it’s only just over AUD$55. This isn’t because the price has been cut due to poor sales, I think Reef realised that this wasn’t a killer game and priced it appropriately. PlayStation and Xbox are still charging full price though. Buy on console only if you don’t have a PC that can run it.
Wait – is it worth a buy or not?
If you want to finish a game that won’t take you 40+ hours and is a solid gaming experience – Do it. If you are a fan of the original two Terminator movies, this is the Terminator game you deserve.
However, if you are comparing buying Terminator: Resistance to almost any other new release, maybe don’t buy it. Teyon, as a developer, is improving in quality in leaps and bounds. Compared to Rambo: The Video Game, Terminator: Resistance is awesome. It’s just not special compared to other offerings out there without the license.
Look at it this way – I can’t recommend the original Witcher like I can the sequels. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy The Witcher, it is only that the sequels have nailed the formula that was only forming in the original. But I still want to replay the orginal (again), because I am a fan and know what I am in for. Treat Terminator: Resistance the same way.
If you are a Terminator fan, this love letter to the franchise is definitely a game you will enjoy playing. If you don’t know the franchise, there is nothing you need to already know to play the game.
One of the most significant marks against Terminator: Resistance is that it is a solid game. There is nothing new about any of the gameplay mechanics, and what is used is done well. There is nothing except the Terminator license to make it stand out on shelves. Also, previous Terminator games haven’t been very good at all.
The problem is these days solid doesn’t really cut it in the hype engine, so they get lost. As much as I loved playing Terminator: Resistance, I put 3 games I hadn’t finished before it on my Top 10 for 2019. If you get the chance and are interested, you won’t regret playing – it just won’t stand out in your other memories.
- Obviously created by fans of the series
- Terminator models look amazing
- Some great easter eggs for Terminator fans
- The gameplay is solid but nothing stands out
- Enemy AI and level layout are too forgiving at normal difficulties
Until next time,