Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: GRIN Studios
Release Date: May 2009
Let's forget for a moment that there was such a thing as "Terminator 3." Aside from that dud, it can be argued that the "Terminator" film series is one of the most popular and significant franchises of the past 20 years, and fans are eagerly awaiting this summer's Terminator Salvation (Christian Bale rant not withstanding). The question, therefore, was never if the new movie would manage to spawn a game, but rather whether the inevitable game would be any good. Thankfully, the title has been handed over to folks who are more than capable, and as a result, we are poised to see a shooter that goes beyond the norm and delivers a truly worthwhile experience.
Rather than parallel the movie story line, the game version of Salvation takes place two years prior to the film, directly after Judgment Day and Skynet's detonation of the nuclear weapons. Players take on the guise of humanity's last best hope, John Connor, and attempt to guide him into his role as mankind's ultimate warrior and general. The developers have also promised that the film will reference conversations and major moments from the game, so players can feel slightly superior to everyone else in the theatre when they get the inside commentary and deeper meanings behind certain conversations.
The game is presented in a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, much like Resident Evil and Gears of War. Furthermore, Connor will fight in a squad, but players do not have the opportunity to take control of other members or issue orders to teammates. This isn't a huge loss, though, as the folks at GRIN know squad combat, and friendly AI is more than adequate at taking care of itself. No babysitting is needed here; these are real soldiers who are fighting for survival just like you, so they don't need your help to stay alive.
That's good, though, because the machines hunting you are relentless and just as smart as you'd expect them to be. The metallic buggers lay down covering fire, move to flank you and attempt ambushes whenever the opportunities arise. These guys aren't winning the war for no good reason; they're programmed for only one thing — to annihilate all who oppose them — and they're damn good at their jobs.
Dispersed throughout the shooter missions are five on-rails turret sequences, which range from protecting a ramshackle school bus from attacks to taking over one of the machines' tanks and giving them a taste of their own medicine. There really isn't anything new here that you haven't seen anywhere else, but the real question is one of execution.
Perhaps the game's biggest shortcoming is that it won't feature online co-op of any kind, which is quite a blow for any shooter. Gamers expect to play with friends over PSN and Xbox Live, but that option won't be available here. It's a dangerous sacrifice to be sure, so we must hope that the single-player segment is strong enough to make up for its shortcomings.
Terminator Salvation has the potential to be a rather enjoyable game, and one that movie fans will likely snap up with delight. However, there are some chinks in the title's armor, so it's going to have to play almost perfectly to make people forget what they're missing. John Connor is coming to save us all this summer, and now, you have the chance to join him. As we near the release date, you'll get to decide if this is a fight worth enlisting for.
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