|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: GRIN||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Evolved Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
April 20, 2009 - It has been a while since Terminator fans have had something to get excited about - given the last of the three movies was suspect, and the unfortunate television series that's only good idea involved making Sarah Connor young and sexy. But, with the upcoming release of latest film on May 21, it would seem Warner Bros. wants to capitalize on its hype. And let's face it, good Terminator games are a rarity.
The plot of this title, in classic, film-adapted game fashion, is set two years before the events of the movie. You play as John Connor from an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective, as you battle against hordes of machines. The gameplay involves having a squad of around eight A.I. teammates with you. One of them is named Blair Wilson, who stays with you throughout the entire game and acts as player two during co-op play. Furthermore, Terminator Salvation is following the long line of cover-based shooters like Gears of War and Rainbow Six: Vegas, which should work considering your enemies are terminators. Also, the cover system is designed around having destructible environments, forcing players to move from cover to cover.
Machines are designed to hunt and kill with no regard to their own safety, so don't expect to send your enemy into retreat. Instead, enemies will mercilessly pursue you, often just moving in straight lines and out in the open. While this doesn't seem like it would make for interesting gameplay, having a ton of enemies approaching at once will probably keep the tension high. Furthermore, it appears that Terminator Salvation is attempting to move away from mostly linear movements of cover-based games, where the player starts on one side of the map and uses cover to get to the other. Enemies are supposed to approach from all sides at all times, increasing the chances of being flanked and overrun.
To keep players from tiring of the standard cover-based gameplay, the game includes on-rail parts where the player takes control of mounted weaponry and lays waste to pursuing enemies. Again, such a feature is in no way innovative and tends to become the standard side-dish for third-person shooters. Moreover, there is no indication that these on-rail parts are going to throw anything new into the mix either, so expect a pretty standard derivation while playing through them.
The weaponry that is available to the player should make for interesting moments as well. Things like shotguns and assault rifles probably won't do much damage against the heavily-armored enemies in the game unless a weak spot is found. This is where teamwork comes into play. Having squad mates distract enemies long enough for you to attack a weak spot will be vital. Having to depend completely on the A.I. of your squad mates, however, could prove to be an issue. Of course, cooperative play should help alleviate those frustrations.
Visually, Terminator Salvation looks to be on par with most other titles coming out this year. It isn't going to stand out from the rest in this regard, or turn any heads, but fancy graphics don't make a game either. The unique cinematic styling of the movie seems to be copied over to the game, at least to some degree, but considering neither the game nor the film have been released, it's tough to say whether this ends up being a good thing.
Unsurprisingly, it doesn't look like the actors from the film are reprising their roles in the game, an issue that many gamers have with these tie-ins. Instead, the game will feature characters that look similar to their actor counterparts and sound remotely like them. Nevertheless, the plot is supposed to lead up to the events that take place in the movie, eliminating the possibility of players being able to defeat Skynet once and for all-an ending that is probably best left to the film.
Terminator Salvation is going to be available on all major platforms, which is both good and bad. It's good because it means that those of us who aren't crazed enough to own every single console will have the opportunity to take the fight to Skynet. On the other hand, it puts the developer in a problematic position because it limits what features they can place. For example, the Xbox 360 version is set to have split-screen cooperative play, but the feature won't be available for the PC version. Multiplayer-wise, there are huge differences between console and PC games, and how these issues will be handled in Salvation has yet to be explained.
There is plenty of hype and anticipation for the film, but whether that hype translates into the game's success remains to be seen. Terminator Salvation seems to be following the long line of third-person shooter conventions; not really breaking any molds or going outside the box. Of course, this isn't to say sticking to the "norm" is bad. On the contrary, many of today's most played and successful games just took what was standard, recreated it, and refined it to death. With any luck, Terminator Salvation will accomplish this task, making it one of the few good film-adapted games available.
CCC Freelance Writer