Review: Terminator Salvation

TerminatorSalvation.jpg Just when movie games appeared to be reaching at least some level of respectability – I’m also playing through X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Wanted: Weapons of Fate and the new Night at the Museum game for reviews right now and all three have been surprisingly fun, as were some others from last year like Quantum of Solace and The Bourne ConspiracyTerminator Salvation comes along and reminds us why video games based on movies or other licensed properties have been shunned and ridiculed for so long.

There are so many problems with Terminator Salvation that I don’t even know where to begin. Hmmm, let me see here… I guess I should go ahead and start with the obvious: this game is about the most blatant Gears of War knock-off to date. Cover-based third-person shooting? Yep! Emphasis on AI teamwork and co-op? Yes again! Enemies that spawn from holes in the ground? Yessiree! How about the “look” button that lets you focus the camera on a scripted background event and those in-gameplay dialogue sequences where you have control of your character and can slowly walk around while they discuss the next objective? Yep, it’s got those as well!

However, the one thing Terminator Salvation fails to copy from Gears of War is quality. Be it gameplay, graphics or audio, this entire game is bland, derivative, uninspired and completely devoid of the cinematic action and drama expected of a game based on a big-budget summer blockbuster (the game is actually a prequel to the movie, in case you were wondering).

The game has its moments in each of these areas – the cover system works fairly well and some of the early firefights are reasonably entertaining, the character models and some of the set pieces look pretty good, and the music and voice acting (even without Christian Bale reprising his film role as John Connor) is at least decent – but overall there is so much more wrong than there is right.

For starters, the gameplay grows dull and tedious very, very quickly. The level designs are incredibly linear, and you basically fight the same three robot enemies throughout the entire game. Thus, every single action sequence plays out exactly the same way: move forward, find cover, wait for teammates to provide cover fire, flank and eliminate the enemy, and then move forward to repeat the same sequence of actions ad nausea.

All games are inherently repetitive, but good games utilize things like intelligent level designs, diverse enemies and satisfying weaponry to mask the repetition. Terminator Salvation doesn’t have the benefit of these masking agents. The occasional on-rails vehicle sequence attempts to break the monotony, but sadly even these moments are hampered by imprecise targeting controls.

Everything else about Terminator Salvation smacks of a rush job. The game is riddled with game-breaking bugs (I had to restart levels multiple times because of enemies getting stuck in walls preventing my ability to kill them and advance to the next checkpoint), crippling slowdown that brings heated battles late in the game to a crawl, and rudimentary animations, special effects, textures and AI. Worse still, there aren’t any bonus materials to unlock or even hidden collectibles to hunt for throughout the game, the Trophy/Achievement implementation is a total joke with only 12 Trophies earned by simply playing through the campaign on the hard difficulty (this is by far the easiest Platinum Trophy to get), and the campaign itself only lasts four hours, maybe five or six tops on hard mode. Even the co-op play was slapped together, as it’s not even online!

So yes, Terminator Salvation is the prototypical half-assed movie tie-in video game rushed out without any care for quality or value with the sole purpose of suckering eager movie fans into a purchase. Even if you enjoyed the film, this is a game you’ll want to steer well clear of.

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Cover system works OK
+ Has some fleeting moments of fun

Cons:
– Blatantly rips off Gears of War
– Dull, repetitive action
– Uninspired level designs
– Short game with no replay value of any kind
– Co-op is offline only; no online support

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also on PC and Xbox 360
Publisher: Equity Games, Evolved Games
Developer: GRIN Studios
Release Date: 5/19/09
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-2

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!