As a huge Terminator fan I’m always on the lookout for a great Terminator game. There are few good Terminator games out there but Terminator Salvation is not one of them. The movie wasn’t that great to begin with and this game is just worse. It was released to coincide with the movie back in 2009 and I didn’t expect much going into it but this game is just terrible and worse than the already low expectations.
Set in 2016, Los Angeles is in ruins and the humans are at war with Skynet. You play as protagonist John Connor and must fight your way through the machines to rescue fellow resistance fighters. That’s pretty much the entire story. Christian Bale does not lend his likeness to John and he was probably better off not doing it. After playing this I could see why he’s better off not being associated with it. Moon Bloodgold returns to voice Blair Williams but unfortunately all of the voice acting feels phoned in and the story seems like it was written by a twelve year old. All of the characters lack any kind of depth or emotion, it’s extremely linear and overall the game lacks content. You can unlock all of the achievements/trophies just by beating the game on hard mode and there’s absolutely nothing to collect. It’s clearly a budget title and it feels like one. It feels as if the developers didn’t even care about the quality of the game in general.
The gameplay is your typical, generic, third-person duck and cover shooter. The enemy variety is poor and the AI is downright stupid which is ironic considering Skynet is an extremely intelligent artificial intelligence. John and his allies will jog everywhere and there’s no sprint button so it takes forever to get anywhere. You can get behind cover and the enemies will never come over to you. The cover is clearly placed in spots so you can move around the battlefield to flank the enemies and the enemies, themselves, feel as if they’re stuck within an invisible box on the battlefield since they never seem to go past the cover. Occasionally you’ll need to ride in the back of a vehicle or train and shoot enemies chasing you but these sequences become boring very quickly. You only have six weapons at your disposal and can only carry two at any given times. Weapons will be lying on the battlefield so you can replenish ammo but even if you run out you can just run next to an ally and they will give you more. Every combat scenario is followed by an abrupt cut scene and then a loading screen which, by the way, the loading times are way too long. You can play the game via split screen co-op with a buddy but it doesn’t make the gameplay any better.
Many of the enemies require you to shoot a weak point (which is usually on its back) to take it down and the idea is to have you or your allies draw it’s attention so someone can get behind it and destroy it. The system works but it never mixes things up. This is all you do for the entire game. I did notice that you could be pinned down by an enemy and your allies can still take it down from behind but most of the time this isn’t the case. You’ll need to get to the other side to take the enemy down so you’ll go from cover to cover or pop up from cover and you’re immediately shot which sucks if you need to run across the battlefield to get ammo. I was playing on hard mode so I died quite a few times. I would be safe behind cover but I knew if I even made an attempt to move I would get killed and that’s exactly what happened. You’ll come up against flying drones followed by spider droids and then T-600 Terminators and I think towards the end you will encounter T-800s but they all seem to look the same in this game so I have no idea. Every now and then you must take down an H-K but it’s not too challenging as it just requires you to wait for it to appear so you can shoot a rocket at it. At one point early on in the game you come up against a giant harvester but you just need to run away and that was the end of that. The AI is awful and most of the time enemies just move back and forth shooting at you and then focus on a single target allowing you to shoot it repeatedly from behind without even flinching. Okay, maybe Terminators don’t flinch but they would at least know if they’re getting shot. The actual T-600s are just bullet sponges and if you miss a shot with your rocket or grenade launcher, or run out of ammo, you’re forced to just shoot it with your standard weapons until it’s destroyed which can take forever. Speaking of shooting, the shooting, itself, felt off. Its like there’s a delay from when you press the trigger on the controller to when your character actually shoots. Sometimes John wouldn’t shoot at all like it didn’t register the button press.
Terminator Salvation looks like shit, especially up close. The opening cut scene is the best looking part of the game and kind of gets you excited for a bit until you start playing it. The environments all look the same, the textures are muddy, the character models look awful and are really stiff which is noticeable during cuts scenes. The animations are terrible as is the lip syncing with the dialogue. One dude was talking and his mouth wasn’t even moving. I was playing co-op for a little bit with Jeremy on the PlayStation 3 and noticed some significant pop-in. I ended up beating the game solo on the Xbox 360 and noticed a horrible amount of screen tearing. Some of the particle effects look nice and I think that’s the only positive thing I have to say about the game. The game box boasts about destructible environments but this is not Red Faction nor did I notice any significant destruction of the environment that warrants a shout out on the box.
The sound and music in Terminator Salvation is just generic. Generic weapon sounds, explosions, and mechanical effects like when the machines are about to explode. The music has some classic Terminator tunes but holy shit is it used obnoxiously. You hear the classic tune after every battle which becomes annoying and the classic theme is played in many sequences as if it’s a dramatic or intense battle when it’s not. It’s like the developers put the classic music in to please fans without actually having it play at the right moments.
Terminator Salvation is a terrible game based on a semi-decent movie in an awesome franchise. With a terrible story accompanied by horrific gameplay, this is not a good Terminator game nor is it even a good action game. If you want to play a good Terminator game go play The Terminator on the Sega CD. The developers actually gave a shit when they made it.