terminator salvation

So apparently we’re continuing what I did yesterday by reviewing games that slightly link in with movies. Today we’re doing a game that literally links in with a movie, so scratch that previous statement. Terminator Salvation was released on the 1st May 2009 for both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game released to overwhelmingly mediocre reviews by critics. I thought I’d throw my hat into an ever-growing pile.

I should point out before we go on that I’ve not seen the film. Hell, I don’t even have the intention of watching it. Terminator is a series that I’ve never experienced and quite possibly wont ever experience. Still, no matter, I’ll try and do a review of something I’ve never watched. Wait, no, I’ve played the game. Must remember I’ve played the game.

As always, I have to talk about the graphics first or I’ll be stabbed or something or other. To be honest, the graphics are fine. They’re not good, but they don’t offend me either. Actually, I’d go as far to say as they’re enjoyable graphics. For 2009, they are actually quite good, especially for a movie tie in game.

The graphics are surprisingly good for a movie tie in game.

What surprises me even more is how fun the combat is. The game is broken up into segments. And by segments I mean, shoot some things, cutscene, shoot some things, end. It’s straightforward gameplay to say the least. But, in some strange way, it’s rather fun. This is a shooter, so you would hope the shooting is tight, which, it actually is. The guns do have some weight behind them, it actually feels like you’re shooting robots.

I’m going to go as far to say as it being entertaining. I really did enjoy myself in combat. There’s a good variety of enemies available, from flying shits to bigger crab things that you have to flank to kill. There are many different enemies, all with various ways of being destroyed. They all have weak spots. Although the weak spots are pointed out to you, it’s pretty fun to take down so many enemies at once.

Even better is the fact that the AI is quite responsive. Surprisingly, they were rather helpful and actually managed to take down some of the bigger enemies. Especially those bloody crabs, it actually felt like working as a team was useful in this. And to be honest, if you left the AI by themselves, they’d probably manage. They can’t die I don’t think, they never died on my game and I played through on the hardest difficulty.

The combat is good, so are the AI. But what lets this game down?

What awed me was how good the weapon selection screen was. Now, I’m not saying I’m distracted by simple things, but I was in this scenario. Unfortunately I don’t have a screenshot or anything of the weapons wheel. It’s one of the nicest wheels I’ve seen. It’s weird to spend a paragraph talking about a bloody wheel.

Anyways, back to the actual game. It takes place in 2016, so last year. And given the circumstances of last year I’d say that this is a non-fiction game. Blown up buildings, evil robots trying to destroy the human race. It was factually accurate in a way, it was quite eerie. Still, the game came out in 2009 and it made me think of other games that now take place in this year. A lot of NES games have the year “20XX”. Anyways, back to this game.

This is the shooter a younger me always dreamed of. For some strange reason I always wanted a shooter that was shambled together. I’ve played literally hundreds of shooters, from your Call of Duty to your Bet on Soldier. From Timeshift to Crysis. Nothing has came close to a feeling of mediocre enjoyment that I so craved and found with this game.

The mediocrity continued with the voice acting and dialogue. Honestly it was so bad it was good. One part that really stands out to me is a helicopter section. The scene is about a minute long just before the end of the level, but it adds so much to the game. I guess the appeal of a game like this is it reminds me of numerous B-Movies. This is basically a B-Movie game. No, not that Bee Movie.

And of course as a little sweet bonus for me it’s an easy thousand gamerscore. Finishing the game on the hardest difficulty will net you all of the achievements. But, of course, this game is far from perfect, and I may have enjoyed it but I can definitely see the faults on display. Of which, there are many.

The biggest flaw I saw is that the game didn’t go for the impression that it was supposed to be bad. It’s not Eat Lead: Return of Matt Hazard, it’s a game that wants to take itself seriously as a shooter. No, this game does take itself seriously. When the game tries to take itself seriously, it’s let down by the terrible voice acting. Now usually my main point goes at the top of this section. Considering everyone but Christian Bale returned from the movie to do this game, I was disappointed. They’re a talented bunch of actors. I’ve never heard such bad voice acting in a video game before.

Arguably, the T-100 would give a better voice acting performance.

Something to always keep in mind is that this is a movie tie in game. Mostly all movie tie in games are bad. Out of all the movie tie in games I’ve reviewed, Back to the Future is the best (9/10.) and the worst being Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2/10.) Games that link to source material can go either way. To be honest, they are kind of fun. It’s more or less an unwritten rule that movie tie in games are horribly awkward to play. I’ve played my fair share of them and most are just mediocre. TV Show tie ins then some of them are the worst games I’ve ever played. CSI Fatal Conspiracy managed a 0/10, the lowest score I’ve ever given.

Regardless of this, Terminator Salvation is a very short game. It took me six or so hours to complete the game on the hardest difficulty. If I’m honest, six or so hours for a shooter of this low budget is actually quite fair. Understandably, a lot of people wont want to play it for that reason, but I’m sure there are those who think the opposite. Six hours is something I can play in short bursts. I ended up playing a mission or two a day for a quick gaming fix when I needed it.

You may have noticed I kept bragging about how I was playing on the hardest difficulty. I’m doing this because your perception is that this game is difficult. It really isn’t. It’s one of the easiest and relaxing games I’ve played. Well, not relaxing, but you know what I mean. If you’re looking for a challenge then the hardest difficulty will not give you that.

Like most games, the loading screens were a pain. I’ve seen a couple of people complain that they were far too long, but at least they were shorter than the Skyrim loading screens. I did crash once or twice on the loading screens but that may have just been my copy of the game. Still, for such a small game it’s questionable why the loading screens take so long and are so frequent.

One interestingly funny thing to note is that the guns have no recoil. Whatsoever. No recoil at all. Also, the shotgun is a pretty long range weapon. It’s quite appealing to see yourself run around with a super shotgun shooting robots out of the sky that are 100 feet away. Something like that appeals to me and I’m honestly not sure why. I’m also not too sure how the ammo works in this game. The weapons use clips, I understand that, but what I didn’t understand was that sometimes you would actually get to keep your ammo. Sometimes you didn’t, but sometimes you did. I didn’t understand it if I’m honest, but it’s such a small thing it didn’t bother me, just perplexed me.

Whereas I praised Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands for some nice graphics in cutscenes, it’s the opposite for this game. The cutscenes are dreadful but the actual game itself looks alright. I don’t get it, but I respect that they went for graphics of the game over graphics of the cutscenes.

The game is nothing good, but at the same time it’s nothing bad. It fails to cover new ground while at the same time provides a decent experience for something we’ve seen before. It’s an interesting paradox the game has created for me. On the one hand, it’s terrible because it does nothing to innovate the genre. But, on the other hand, it doesn’t need to, it’s not a cheap movie tie in game like all the other ones. I’m really at odds about Terminator Salvation.

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