The latest Terminator video game tries to replicate the future wars of the first two movies, but is it more T2 or Terminator Genisys?
This may be the most redundant review we’ve ever written. We don’t think a single person that heard about Terminator: Resistance – which was only announced in September – expected it to be good. Even ignoring the still generally low quality of movie tie-ins, this is by the same people that made the terrible Rambo video game a few years ago and, well… it’s Terminator. And nothing to do with Terminator has been any good for a very long time.
We remember when Alien Isolation (soon to be released on the Nintendo Switch) was first coming out and it did such a good job of replicating the original’s atmosphere that many started suggesting various other 80s classics as follow-ups, including Terminator. That obviously never happened but needless to say Resistance is nothing like Alien Isolation. However, it is slightly closer to Terminator: Future Shock, a long-forgotten Bethesda game from 2005 that played very much like a proto-Fallout and beat Quake to the punch in terms of a first person game with fully 3D graphics.
Although it was rubbish there was a certain brutish charm to Rambo: The Video Game, and there’s a certain amount of that to Resistance as well. It’s not bad because the developers are lazy but simply because they don’t have much money… and possibly time and talent. They’ve done their best though and just occasionally you get a glimpse of that unlikely future where a good Terminator game becomes a reality.
Although it has nothing to do with it, Resistance is very much like new film Dark Fate in that it ignores all of the movies except for the first two. That’s a limitation of the licence, rather than a creative decision, but it makes little difference as everything takes place in the future and the events of the films are only occasionally referenced. That’s fine, but while the game does go to some effort to replicate the future war scenes from the original movies it completely fails to capture the essence of a good Terminator film, in terms of being constantly stalked by an indestructible assailant.
That’s something Alien Isolation certainly got right but the Resident Evil approach would also have worked just as well, especially as Mr. X was clearly inspired by the Terminator in the first place. Nothing so interesting happens in Resistance, and instead you’re just wandering about an unconvincing looking post-apocalyptic backdrop, shooting disappointingly destructible robots with some very unexciting guns.
And yet while the plot is irrelevant some of the storytelling moments are actually quite effective. You play as a red shirt Resistance fighter named Jacob Rivers, who is usually accompanied by two companions; your interactions with them, although predictable, actually do quite well to humanise them and make them seem like real people.
This affects the gameplay too, as depending on how you talk to them, via Telltale style dialogue choices, you can open up extra side quests. That’s nothing unusual for an action role-playing game, but Resistance only barely qualifies as that even though you can upgrade your stats. It does ride the line though, with small but open-ended maps that are filled with resources to collect that you can then craft equipment from. Think a low budget Metro Exodus rather than Call Of Duty or Fallout and that’s the space Resistance operates in.
Rather than a straight shooter you can tackle most objectives in whatever order you choose, and many enemies can simply be avoided. With a base area that you return to between missions everything does surprisingly well to represent the underground resistance concept as seen in the first movie. Although the objectives themselves are a disappointingly unimaginative collection of ‘go here and kill this’ missions.
The problem with Resistance is simply that it’s not a very good shooter. Not only is the gunplay utterly mediocre but it makes destroying Terminators seem pathetically easy. Admittedly, in the future they do have better weapons, but half the time you’re still only using shotguns, pistols, and the like which, according to the movies, should barely slow down a Terminator. You can even hurt them with special one-shot kill knives, which is just bizarre.
As you might imagine, this undermines the stealth elements as you realise there’s no point hiding when you can just mow down Terminators with little fear of injury yourself. It’s a shame because despite first appearances this is a more interesting game than it seems, and it’s obvious that Polish developer Teyon have studied the first two films for inspiration and not just slapped a label onto an unrelated shooter.
But good ideas only take you so far and not only is Resistance not particularly fun to play but the graphics literally look like an upscaled Xbox 360 game. We’re sure the budget for the game was extremely low but the dour visuals and unreliable frame rate only add to the list of problems you have to excuse the game for. Ironically, but inevitably, the artificial intelligence for all the enemies is also practically non-existent.
If the game turns up cheap during Black Friday then it’s worth a few pounds for fans of the series, although we wonder how many of those are left after getting on for three decades of terrible sequels. The best thing that can be said about Resistance is that it proves a good Terminator can exist, but it is not that game itself and all it can do is try to play a part in saving the future of the franchise.
Terminator: Resistance review summary
In Short: There’s the endoskeleton of a good movie adaptation here, but with dire graphics, dull combat, and tedious missions this low budget shooter is very easy to resist.
Pros: A reasonably ambitious attempt to adapt the future war segments of the original movies, with unexpected levels of character interaction and other minor action role-playing elements.
Cons: A clearly miniscule budget ensures almost laughably bad graphics and AI, but the bland and repetitive mission objective and uninteresting combat are purely the developer’s fault.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Price: £49.99Publisher: Reef Entertainment
Release Date: 15th November 2019
Age Rating: 16
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