The year is 2016, post Judgment Day, and the self-aware AI known as Skynet continues to wage war upon the surviving humans
- Iconic Terminator characters and universe, co-op is a plus
- Incredibly short, incredibly repetitive, incredibly broken
Terminator Salvation proves the timeless rule that movie to video game tie-in's equals less than stellar results. What one can expect from Salvation is rudimentary shooting mechanics, an annoying health system, terrible voice acting and dialog, and a simply mundane gaming experience.
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Video games based on movies generally get a bad rap - and rightfully so. What's worse than dishing out hard-earned cash for an undeniably rushed-to-deadline cash-in? Thankfully, there are plenty of titles out there from Riddick to Wolverine that introduce just enough new material to keep gamers interested, and may just rise above their movie counterparts in terms of quality - games that truly break the mould. Terminator Salvation is not one of those games.
"Come with me if... oh, forget it."
So, let's recap the story so far: the year is 2016, post Judgment Day, and the self-aware AI known as Skynet continues to wage war upon the surviving humans. John Connor, a member of the dwindling Resistance, finds himself on the losing side of the ever-escalating man-versus-machine conflict. Upon receiving a radio transmission from abandoned Resistance soldier David Weston, Connor makes it his mission to rescue the deserted recruit and inspire everyone and their mother on the way. Imagine a very unenthusiastic version of "Saving Private Ryan", where the Tom Hanks character is attacked by relentlessly murderous machines every two steps.
Terminator Salvation is a by-the-books run-and-gun shooter — nothing more, nothing less. While the title utilizes a cover system similar to that of another GRIN effort, Wanted: Weapons of Fate, most of your time will be spent with one finger on the trigger, the other aiming with the analog stick. Machines arrive in waves, you unleash enough lead to blow them back to the scrap pile and then move on to your next location. Simple, right? In all honesty, this would have been a fantastic formula if given the proper time, care and treatment. Instead, Terminator Salvation just plays as a bug-riddled, murky mess of a shooter that ends before it even begins.
Shoot, flank, reload, repeat
While I try not to put too much weight on a game's visuals, there's no denying that Salvation looks rushed and absolutely dreadful from almost every perspective. Post-apocalyptic rubble and flora pops on and off screen, incredibly similar character models move with stiff, awkward animations, and all five (count 'em - five) enemies that you'll encounter throughout your trek into Skynet territory are nearly indistinguishable from one another. But, hey — the graphics shouldn't hold much water if the game's fun, right?
Which brings me to my next point. Okay, I don't think anyone was expecting a revolution with the release of Salvation, but is too much to ask for a game where we can blow away armies of James Cameron-inspired machines and actually enjoy it? Connor and company can't finish a sentence - much less a bad one liner - before they're forced to mow down endless hordes of Aerostats and T7's — appropriately nick-named "Wasps" and "Spiders", as, true to their insect-inspired monikers, you kill one and seven more pop out of the woodwork to take their place. Aerostats buzz about like flies with severe ADD where the T7s require the most strategy you're going to find in Salvation: make your way behind the machine and shoot it in its glowing battery pack until something goes boom. Then there's the infamous T-600 endoskeleton — one of the most memorable and villainous figures in film lore. Well, until you realise that all you have to do is shoot it in the chest with an assault rifle until it collapses — then it seems pretty tame.
Leaving so soon?
While Salvation's co-op mode makes the title a bit easier to bear, it's incredibly short four-hour campaign (a miniscule nine missions) simply isn't worth the sixty dollar admission fee. While GRIN's Wanted: Weapons of Fate at least had enough innovation and flair to set itself apart from the crowd, Salvation serves up a truckload of tired "been there, done that" action cliches, topped off with repetitive levels, an incredibly frustrating health system and simply mundane gameplay. While there are some cheap thrills to be found in the title's rail-shooter segments and hardcore Terminator fans will no doubt want to rent the title just for the chance to go toe-to-toe with a T-600, I can't recommend Salvation as anything more than exactly that: a rental.
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