FBT won’t be back
Terminator Resistance was terminated by the critics. But on Steam, Gamers gave it a "Very Positive" rating. Given I’m a gamer not a critic, I’ll go with the homecrowd.
Goddamn Fanboys. According to Steam, only 36% of players have the achievement “Complete the game” – and I can see why, but I also see where both the critics and the fans are coming from. The fan-service is T2, but it’s Dark Fate to play.
Years after Judgement Day, a Resistance soldier called Jacob survives an attack by Skynet. Reaching a group of survivors, he takes them to a nearby Tech-Com base where Jacob learns he’s mysteriously number three on Skynet’s Kill-list, is being targeted by a Terminator that doesn’t exist yet, and he’s being protected by a mysterious stranger who seems to always show up at the right time to save his life…
TR is incredibly faithful, taking key scenes and themes of T and T2 to heart. But it doesn’t do anything with them, just replicates everything like a T-1000. It doesn’t expand, explore, or build on anything it takes from Terminator lore. Instead, it replicates other games.
Obviously a post-apocalyptic open-world with player choices screams Fallout 3, but not only does it knock-off the ending of F3 where you escort a giant robot, but the multiple ending is done via a voice-over with stills explaining NPC’s fates. We even pick-up skill books and the lockpicking is straight from Fallout 3/Skyrim. There’s a Half-Life nod in the annoying headcrab-terminators, and a boffin has tamed one which constantly freaks people out and gets into the vents. Elsewhere there’s an abrasive, abused, heavily tattooed female warrior who is so Mass Effect Jack it’s embarrassing, and the hacking mini game is from AC Black Flag’s modern era puzzles. It just goes on, everything reminds you of another game. Jacob has a scanner, but for some reason they called it “Detective mode”?!
For a game based on a time-travelling plot, this has gone back in time. It’s filled with outdated annoyances, like the Terminators target you over everyone else, your pals walk into your line of fire, and it’s not really open world; there’s burned out buildings to explore, but you’re enclosed in small, mission-dependant areas. The most outdated element is the machines all hang around explosive barrels – how did Skynet take over the world like this?
It’s got a sense of budget about it too; when we have a boss fight with a T-800 the body is shown later completely intact, despite being burnt to its chassis during the fight, and often you get into a firefight and think ‘I’ll just strafe into that crevice between all the rubble and – no you won’t; you’re constantly blocked/exposed by invisible walls. There’s only really two or three maps you keep getting sent back to, where chests and ammo are now empty but blockages reappear – at one point I blew up a wall to access an area then discovered I’d already raided it on a previous visit; Terminators are masquerading as bricklayers?
You also get stims that slow time, give health bumps, but I never used them. And that’s because once you get the plasma weapons, you’re like Arnie strolling through the copshop – unstoppable. There are standout sneak moments, like navigating a hospital filled with patrolling Terminators, but those are rare. You gain a one-use ‘Terminator knife’ which you can sneak-kill them with, but they always notice you so you just blast away.
And when you do meet the metal motherfuckers face to face, they’re basically zombies – they walk toward you with no tactical ability or interest. The fanboy in me would point out Skynet has an infinite supply of old T-600 models (And that's why they have white teeth), and just keeps them coming to wear you down – and it’s working. Its seldom exciting putting down a Terminator – how can fighting Terminators be dull? You can hack certain machines to shoot for you and facing off against the big HK Tanks and Aerials is fun, but there’s a chore to it all.
The plot doesn’t really hold your interest either. Besides the hokey time-travel plot they’ve shoved in, we're just circling around the period where John’s about to strike the Defence Grid, so it feels like it’s just flexing to hit all the moments Reece mentions without actually letting us get involved. In focusing instead on no fate but what we make player choices, it unmakes what could have been a really good game about how John won.
There’s also the DLC where you play the Infiltrator trying to reach a Resistance base – we scan bodies, have all the weapons including the mini-gun, and we’re hella brutal; health is regained by rerouting power and you can toss people aside like they’re Bill Paxton or the bad guy from Cobra, but we start as an already exposed Terminator so there’s no infiltrating, no opportunity to say “Fuck You, Asshole”. It’s basically a Jacob mission with a red tint.
Clearly I'm disappointed, but I’m also conflicted about TR. It’s a repetitive, dated, shallow shooter. That’s not totally unexpected - TR was produced by Tryon, best known for, erm, Rambo: The Video Game. It isn’t that bad but TR feels like a game created by Skynet – an accurate approximation of a shooter, but it’s not really. If I were to describe it in the language of Terminator sequels, its set in the same world as Salvation, as pointless as Genisys and as frustrating as Dark Fate. Its about as good as T3 – a solid try, but it’s no Kristanna Loken.
But, as a pure fan of Terminator, what more do I want? It really captures the tone of the War Against the Machines, and genuinely wants to do it right – it is more faithful than half the sequels. I fight Terminators, hang out with John, dust HK’s, fire a plasma rifle in the 40-Watt range and the world looks exactly like Reece’s nightmares. One side mission has me find a stray dog which I give to a kid, and we get to name it Max or Wolfie. Cute as, and good enough for me. It totally ballsed-up the game, but it is a great movie experience. I actually think both the critics and the gamers were right – it is terrible, but it’s also very positive.