Last year’s surprisingly good Terminator game | minimme

Last year’s surprisingly good Terminator game | minimme

February 2, 2020 100 By Sebastian Fry


Remember that subset of late 90s, early 2000s
outdoor tactical shooters? Specifically games like Ghost Recon or Hidden and Dangerous or
Delta Force, or, one of my personal favourites, Deadly Dozen, where you were dropped into
a large open map, given a bunch of objectives, and set off to figure out your way around.
The objectives themselves were often real simple, like just collecting intel or taking
someone out, so the real enjoyment of these games was in traversing these open levels.
They’d be sprinkled with outposts, and snipers, and infantrymen, and helicopters, and tanks,
and all sorts of different enemies and though they were often very slow paced games, there
was a unique thrill and intensity to carefully learning how to survive through constantly
scanning your environment for enemies and managing your health and inventory. There
was this brilliant you against the world sense to these games, and a certain scary excitement
to knowing that if you slip up, you are dead. Now replace those maps with fittingly depressing
renditions of Terminator 2’s future war, and replace those snipers, infantrymen, helicopters
and tanks with terminators, drones, and giant mechs, and you begin to have a picture of
why last years Terminator game, Terminator: Resistance, is so fascinating. Surprisingly
so, in fact, since this game flew under my radar and I cover games like this. I could talk about old tactical shooters for
hours, but if you put those aside and look at this game on a surface level it obviously
draws from so many other more contemporary games. The gunplay is from every modern FPS,
the looting is very Far Cry, the skill tree and skill point system is also very Far Cry
as well as every other Ubisoft game, the home base style storytelling is very Mass Effect
or modern Wolfenstein and the lockpicking minigame is very every game ever made. Oh
and the hacking minigame is just frogger, just to throw a wildcard in the mix. Point
is, superficially, you’ve seen this all before a dozen times over. Which is all the more reason why the sneaky
massive objective based open levels are so uncharacteristic. This could’ve comfortably
been a corridor shooter, even a good one, but it aims quite a bit higher which is even
more surprising considering the developer Teyon’s last game kept it about as simple
as it could with a Rambo themed light-gun shooter that nobody liked. Teyon seem to have an acute understanding
of what gameplay style would suit the terminator future war, as that ‘you against the world’
feeling is only amplified by it being it basically being you against the world with the resistance
vs skynet. The levels cleverly force you to get close to enemies with some subtle funnelling
and intentionally cramped design, and they’re densely packed with both geometry to hide
behind and imposing Skynet enemies everywhere. This claustrophobic design coupled with the
simple line of sight stealth aided by a see through walls night vision toggle is arranged
in such a way that you’re always worried you’re going to run headfirst into a group
of terminators around the next corner, and the effect of this is an appropriate and constant
feeling of paranoia as you repeatedly scan for enemies – which is exactly what being
in this world would feel like. Now while this doesn’t have the realism
or the squad mechanics or the loudouts of your Hidden and Dangerous’ of the world,
in place of that, the more modern crafting and progression systems are both a bit too
simple and underbaked. Scraps and materials are often hidden in abandoned decrepit buildings
where you need to look on and under shelves and open draws and that sort of thing – which
does add to a certain scavenger feeling which is great, but I didn’t actually care for
crafting beyond making health packs. That’s right, this game doesn’t have regenerating
health which also works in its favour for that survivalist vibe. As for the skill tree,
I’d describe as functional but boring. You do get more capable as you go along which
is fine, but there’s no real decision making or sacrifice to it. Obviously a lot of depth has been stripped
away from those old tactical shooters here — I say that as if those shooters were a
starting point for this but I really don’t know if they were, but, anyway, there’s
no doubt that this is a mechanically simpler game, like, there’s less to think about
in the moment to moment. The inventory is usually big enough that you never need to
worry, especially because items stack, it throws way too many health packs and materials
at you so that’s not a worry either which sucks, and after you’ve leveled up for a
bit or if you don’t play on a harder difficulty then the sneaking itself also doesn’t matter
because you can effortlessly run in guns blazing. So if you do play this, play it on the hardest
difficulty, which will also help mitigate the problems that come from the predictable
AI. The game is awful on easy, and even on hard
it’s just way too easy. This is my biggest problem with the game, like once you unlock
Plasma weapons, which isn’t too far in, you can start mowing down T800s, which just
isn’t right and is something you’ll need to accept. They didn’t go full Alien Isolation
with these Terminators when they probably should’ve, but their introduction a couple
of hours into the game its finest moment. Before you unlock plasma weapons, you can’t
damage them at all, so you must sneak past them in this hospital and it is really intense.
The game is almost worth playing for this scene alone. Otherwise, because it’s all so easy the
enemies just aren’t scary, which is a huge problem. Like it’s still balanced in a way
that stealth is preferable to guns blazing, but when you do get caught you likely are
going to win the battle. You’re avoiding enemies because they’re a hindrance, rather
than them being terrifying, so the effect is muted. Thankfully though, the great work Teyon have
done audio-visually makes up for a lot of that. There’s a really effective and dramatic
use of Unreal 4’s lighting capabilities here, and the way the T800s and enemies look
and animate is just wonderful. You get the sense the developers were genuinely massive
Terminator fans and they poured in a lot of love. I’d say I only enjoy the Terminator
films in passing, but there’s just a radiant charisma to this game that makes me want to
go back and rewatch them – though I’m not touching anything past T2. I took myself to
see that latest one that released alongside this game and it was just rough, but I guess
this game is its silver lining. Now the graphics do look pretty dated beyond the lighting,
particularly in some areas and with the human characters giving off that awkward Oblivion
energy, but it is easy to forgive all things considered, especially as it’s a budget
game. Like, really, they faithfully captured that Terminator 2 opening scene. The audio on the other hand is simply top
notch for any game, mediocre voice acting aside. It sounds how it should, which is the
best compliment I can give it, and the real star of the show is the soundtrack which is
consistently punchy, sci-fi and just cool. It’s worth listening to on it’s own, and
it helms what’s become my favourite version of the theme song that there is. It’s just
so, so good. So even if you’re hiding from enemies because
they’re more annoying than scary, it’s not hard to be swept up into the apocalyptic
sci-fi wonder of it all and forget the issues. This aesthetic and care elevates the otherwise
standard underground resistance story too, which is better than it should be, but far
from great. Like the game as a whole, it aims pretty high with some decision making through
both dialogue options and whether or not you do side quests – which smartly are side objectives
rather than entire side missions so you don’t have to go too out of the way for them. I
happily did a lot of side quests and I’m not a side quest kind of guy. And the decisions
you make affect the outcome of the game in a real way. They won’t majorly impact the
game as a whole, like the branching paths won’t change the missions you play or anything,
but they will effectively impact your relationships and where the story ends. And I gotta say, it’s just nice to not play
a Terminator story that’s just some mix of Sarah, John, Arnie or Kyle Reese. The movies
always fall into this weird state of needing to shoehorn in a combination of those characters
every time, as if they’re the most well written characters in cinema history, and
it’s gotten so bad that it’s actually refreshing when they’re basically not in
it. I know this is more a knock on the films rather than a praise for this game, but telling
an at most competent Terminator story in this world with new characters really is enough
for fans. More traditional, very scripted Call of Duty
style missions usually drive the plot forward and they take up a large chunk of the game
as you mostly alternate between these and the slower, more open mission. I actually
like this as a way to refresh the pace of the game and while these missions are far
more mindless and aren’t anything to write home about, they are again surprisingly competent.
Like much of the game, the aesthetic just elevates them beyond what you’d expect and
they hit enough meaningful narrative beats to be engaging. I absolutely prefer them being
in the game rather than cut, but I’d be lying if I said they aren’t at least a bit
bland. If you’re completely burnt out on Call of Duty campaigns, you’ll likely hate
these parts, but if you enjoy them like I do, then you’ll enjoy these too. I’d also be lying if I said that a lot of
this game wasn’t at least a bit bland. It’s so charming that I almost don’t want to
bring it down a peg, but there is a massive ‘seen it all before’ factor to pretty
much all of the base mechanics which I know has turned a lot of people off – including
the critics apparently. It does feel like something from the last generation. Like I
said the story could do with more oomph, especially the acting, and it bothers me that the movement
speed is just that bit too slow that it’s uncomfortable, where it feels like the sprinting
speed should be your default speed. And there’s just some iffy control stuff too, like you
can’t go into night vision while reloading which might not sound like much but it’s
actually pretty annoying. Again though, nothing bothers me more than the easy difficulty and
poor AI, which is really what holds this game back most from being a strong recommendation. But man, is it close. And I haven’t even
mentioned the turret hacking, which makes the stealth that much more fun because sneak
up behind a turret, play a game of frogger, and just watch as your turret effortlessly
does your job for you. One of the only genuinely difficult moments I had was in this T800 filled
house, mostly because I was almost out of ammo. I struggled and struggled to kill them
all so eventually I just fanged it through and ended up stressed out in a field with
no laser bullets to keep me alive. With no way to touch the T800s wandering around,
I had my own scary unscripted version of the hospital scene from earlier in the game, and
it was amazing. I had to cautiously creep around, making sure not to walk at full speed
so they wouldn’t hear me, and every turret I saw became both its own challenge and a
blessing in disguise. Creeping around in broad daylight in a horrified state of paranoia
hacking these turrets to eventually come out on top was a brilliant emergent moment I didn’t
think this game had in it, and it confirmed to me just what this game could be if the
T800s were actually threatening. Still though, if you’re a Terminator fan
and if you can look past some issues and uninspired mechanics, there is a lot to love here. Even
if you’re like me and you only sort of like Terminator, this is the coolest rendition
of its universe that we’ve seen in years, and it’s far more impressive than I ever
expected. There are problems beyond its charm, but that very charm has really won me over.
And hey, there might even be a difficulty patch coming so keep an eye out for that. I love that Terminator: Resistance is a true
underdog game. Games like this just make me grin and they’re the reason I do what I
do here on YouTube. Maybe I’m overpraising it to an extent because of this, but I just
absolutely love these rough around the edges against all odds sort of games that really
make the best of a situation. You have a developer with a poor reputation and a smaller budget,
making a movie tie-in game for a film with an awful reputation and a franchise which
hasn’t sparked any life in years, and it comes together to be something this good and
this full of heart. It’s just beautiful, and though you might not be as delighted by
this sort of thing as I am, I implore you to check this one out if it’s sparked your interest.