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When I was little my mom and grandmother were not happy with my dad when he let me watch violent films. A few years ago, out of curiosity, I asked him why he didn’t put on more appropriate content for my age and his response was “I didn’t want to watch that shit”. Alright, fair enough. Well two of the movies he let me watch were Terminator and Terminator 2 and they are my favorite action movies of all time. I put them above Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon series, and even Aliens. I lean towards Terminator 2 being my absolute favorite but I consider the two movies as one experience. It’s easier to do that now since the sequels are so inferior. James Cameron had a vision and every movie after 2 is just not on the same level as his films. Developed by Teyon and published by Reef Entertainment, Terminator: Resistance was released for PC in November, 2019 and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One that December. The game ignores every film after Terminator 2 and is set during the war between the Resistance and Skynet. I’ve been waiting for a good Terminator game for a long time. There are some good ones out there but it’s been years since we’ve seen a truly excellent Terminator game. One of my favorites is The Terminator for the Sega CD. And that system or add-on, specifically. Robocop vs The Terminator is pretty good, too.
The story is set in Los Angeles after Judgement Day. It’s a post-apocalyptic world and the human resistance led by John Connor are at war with the artificial neural network known as Skynet which has deployed robotic killing machines to wipe out humanity. The protagonist is Jacob Rivers, a resistance soldier and the story opens with him as the only survivor of his unit, evading Skynet patrols. He comes across some civilian survivors and joins their group before meeting up with and joining a resistance Tech-Com unit led by Commander Baron. As Jacob completes various missions for the survivors and resistance, he’s also being hunted by an Infiltrator and aided by a mysterious stranger. The story digs deep into the Resistance and their struggles. Jacob will interact with numerous NPC’s and have to make choices which do affect the ending. Overall, the story isn’t that bad. I think fans or anyone with knowledge on Terminator lore will get a lot more out of it. There’s a lot of Terminator terminology thrown around and I really love how the game doesn’t disrespect or stray too far from the source material. On the other hand, the voice acting is pretty awful. Some performances are okay but many of the deliveries and emotions feel forced. It feels like the game was designed by dedicated Terminator fans and I really appreciate what they tried to do here. You can clearly see the love and passion. You know those war scenes set in the future in the first two films that show off the post-apocalyptic world with Resistance soldiers engaging Skynet machines? This game does a phenomenal job capturing the spirit of those scenes. It just nails the tone and atmosphere.
You can run, jump, crouch, aim down sights, perform melee attacks, and carry four weapons at a time. However, you can store additional weapons and items in your inventory but you do have a limited amount of inventory space. You can acquire items and resources by looting destroyed foes or by finding them in the environments. As you destroy enemies and complete quests, you’ll gain experience and eventually level up. Each time you level up, you can spend a skill point to activate various skills across three categories – Combat, Science, and Survival. Activating certain skills unlocks certain abilities or makes certain aspects of the game easier. For example, each weapon skill increases how much damage you inflict and you’ll eventually be able to wield more powerful plasma weapons. An explosive skill lets you disarm laser traps. The different skills let you build your character to fit your play style. If you prefer to be stealthy, you have the option of activating skills that fit that style. If you’d rather engage the machines in combat, there are skills that are better suited for that style as well. You have options and the skills do add some replay value to the game.
I would say Terminator: Resistance is a stealth action game and there’s always plenty of resources lying around. I never had to worry about ammo and I always had plenty of medkits. You can sneak around enemies to complete objectives or blow them away if you have the right firepower. There are four difficulty modes – Easy, Normal, Hard, and Extreme – and I played through the entire game on Hard. Overall, I would say the game is a bit on the easy side. The beginning of the game can be challenging but by the end, I was blowing away Terminators without much trouble. But I guess it depends on whatever skills you activate. I found that if you activate skills related to combat like toughness, weapons, and explosives, then you eventually become overpowered. It feels that way, anyway. But the skills do provide you a nice feeling of getting stronger as you progress. Skills can make things easier or more convenient but it’s the equipment and offensive and defensive items that can make a big difference on the battlefield. Ultravision Goggles are one of the most useful pieces of equipment at your disposal. They allow you to see enemies through walls and solid objects within a limited radius, making sneaking around a lot easier. However, your movement becomes slower when using the goggles. You can activate a flashlight to see easier in dark areas and, eventually you’ll acquire lockpicks which can help you gain access to different areas and containers, and a hacking device that lets you hack terminals and plasma turrets. Hacked plasma turrets will fire at enemies making them extremely helpful. If you take enough damage, you’ll have to heal yourself with medkits, stimulants can provide temporary bonuses, and you can lob pipe and can grenades to dish out significant amounts of damage to one or multiple enemies. Sound Decoys can be used to lure enemies like Silverfish to their deaths. Many of the items you find are resources that can be used for crafting or trading at the shops which can be either a supply locker or quartermaster. You can craft medkits, ammo, and items and the more crafting skills you’ve activated, the more items you can craft. You can only craft items at crafting tables which are peppered throughout the environments.
There are different weapons you can acquire including human weapons like an uzi, shotgun, M-16, rocket launcher, and pistol. Shotguns can stun Terminators but if you want to engage and destroy them, you’ll want to use explosives or plasma weapons. There’s different types of plasma rifles, a rail plasma which kind feels like a sniper rifle, and the plasma miniguns are my favorites. The Rail Plasma proved to be extremely useful since it can take out Terminators from long range which is how I preferred to engage them anyway. There’s a neat one-time use weapon called the Termination Knife that can be used to silently kill a Terminator from behind. There are some weapons which I think should be categorized as offensive items instead. For example, a grenade-type like the pipe grenade is considered an offensive item but the laser trap is considered a weapon. That seems odd to me and sometimes I would get confused as to what’s a weapon and what’s an offensive item. Most of the Terminators can kill you easily so you getting up close and personal is never ideal and the human weapons are only really effective against certain types like Spider Scouts, Drones, and Armored Spiders. The plasma weapons are what you want if you plan on going in all guns blazing. Furthermore, the plasma weapons can be upgraded with Skynet chips which can be acquired from destroyed foes. You can upgrade things like fire rate, stability, clip, and damage. You have to install three chips on a plasma weapon and must make sure the ends of them match. Some chips are color-coded which indicates something special. For example, violet chips don’t require matching ends. It’s an interesting system.
Many of the Terminators you see in the films are present here like T-800’s and HK’s. In fact, the roster includes numerous Terminators from the T-800 series. You’ll get to engage T-825s, T-808s which wield flamethrowers, and T-850s/Infiltrator units. You’ll get to battle T-47 units which are these massive machines, HK Aerial units, and an HK Tank as well. The less threatening enemies include the Spider Scouts, Drones, Armored Spiders, and Silverfish, all of which can be defeated with almost any weapon. You can knock the T-800 series Terminators down but they will get back up if you don’t drain all of their health or in other words, destroy them. That said, it is pretty cool seeing the Terminators from the films look and behave like they do on-screen. However, that means they don’t think. If Terminator 2 is anything to go by, the switch on their CPU wasn’t set to “read-and-write” or learn which would make sense here. If the machines detect you, they will immediately start attacking and the T-800 series of Terminators normally just walk towards you and fire. Some of them will throw pipe grenades. Keeping them at a distance isn’t very difficult since you can run and they won’t search for you relentlessly. They eventually stop searching and go back to patrolling. Plus, you can easily lure them into traps. As mentioned before, the beginning of the game is more challenging and there’s a greater sense of tension because you haven’t activated many skills, you’re very fragile, and don’t have access to all of the firepower yet so sneaking around is usually the best course of action. One mistake can result in your death.
The game plays out in quests which take you to numerous areas around Los Angeles like Pasadena, Hollywood Hills, Downtown, and warehouse and medical districts, among other locations. Objectives have you doing things like retrieving items, locating NPC’s, and killing specific enemies. Some quests have you fighting alongside other resistance soldiers and these are always action-packed. There will be side quests to complete and I tried to leave an area once without completing one and was warned I would immediately fail the quest. I wish you could revisit areas freely. You can only go to where the story takes you. Also, once you clear an area of enemies, you can roam around it freely without worrying about anything which is another reason why the game can sometimes feel too easy. I think a respawn system should have been implemented. After completing the main quest in an area, you’ll have to travel back to a hideout or resistance shelter, depending on where you are in the story. The hideouts and shelter are where you can interact with NPC’s, acquire quests, craft items, and access the shop. The quest areas are pretty large and items and resources seem to be lying around everywhere. There’s plenty of objects, structures, and buildings to explore and use as cover and you can use explosives to blow through damaged walls. If you activated the appropriate lockpicking and hacking skills, you can gain access to paths that make it easier to avoid enemies and/or get to your destination. Laser traps, explosive canisters, and plasma turrets are the only real forms of environmental hazards and each of them can be used against the machines. There are plasma containers littered about that can be destroyed and you’ll come across Skynet Outposts that can be infiltrated and destroyed. These usually appear as side quests. Scattered around are notes which act as a form of collectibles and every area will have safe houses where you can save your game and craft items.
The presentation is one of the best things about Terminator: Resistance. The machines look amazing and are great reflections of their on-screen counterparts with fantastic animations. The lighting is good, textures look great, and the environments are an excellent reflection of those seen in the future war scenes from the films, especially the areas set at night. You’ll get to navigate through a lot of destroyed buildings, there’s rubble is everywhere, destroyed cars are littered about, there are fires scattered around, and the weapon models look great. Furthermore, there’s nice visual effects going on like parts of Terminators can get caught on fire, they’ll emit sparks when damaged and destroyed, and the plasma beams that zip through the environment during a firefight look really cool. Other than witnessing some pop-in here and there, the visual presentation is excellent. As for the audio work, it’s phenomenal. The first two Terminator films have some of the greatest music in cinema. The songs are awesome and certain ones are composed in a way that perfectly capture the tension and drama of the scenes they’re tied to and the soundtracks perfectly fit the themes and tones of the films. That said, Terminator: Resistance includes many of the classic tunes heard in the films with some alterations. Many of the intense tunes kick in when you engage enemies and many of the songs do a great job at heightening the tension like they do in the films. The sound effects are also incredible. Weapons sound powerful and the sounds of plasma fire seem to be ripped from the films as do the sound effects of the enemies. Whenever you’re in war zone fighting alongside resistance soldiers, it’ll sound as if you’re actually in one of those future war scenes. On the technical side, I thought some of the load times were a bit long but other than that, I have no major complaints.
I’m not going to deny that Terminator: Resistance feels somewhat shallow. There are better shooters out there. I feel like some mechanics and features should have been fleshed out more. But, overall, I enjoyed the game. Sometimes it felt like a shallow version of Fallout 3, New Vegas, or 4. Except it’s not open world, the combat is more fluid and enjoyable, and it’s not broken. Furthermore, there’s a crazy amount of fan service put in this game and I just ate it all up. I loved it. Fans of the first two films will appreciate the care and attention to detail and most of the nods to the movies are well implemented. Some feel thrown in just because but each one resulted in me grinning. I had a great time with this but it’s far from perfect. As a shooter it’s kind of by-the-numbers. The Terminator coat of paint really makes it stand out. I would argue that this has taken the top spot in terms of Terminator games. I would love to see a more fleshed out sequel. And I really hope the developers allow the game to be modded. Maybe it already can be, I don’t know but I think mods can rectify some of the issues and I would love to replay this with additional content and/or different gameplay mods to mix things up.
I would absolutely recommend Terminator: Resistance to fans of the first two films. It respects the source material and captures the spirit of the war as depicted in those films. Gameplay-wise there’s not much here that we haven’t seen other games do and do better. Compared to other shooters out there, Terminator: Resistance is underwhelming but competent. As a Terminator game, I think it’s the best one out there and a lot of fun to play. Definitely check it out.