Author Topic: Terminator Resistance [2019 -- Teyon]  (Read 358 times)

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Terminator Resistance [2019 -- Teyon]
« on: January 10, 2020, 08:27:02 AM »
The simple name Terminator conjures for many people (including me) some weird mental imagery from the 80s. As a teenager it was one of the iconic movies of the era. Since then I grew up... rather a lot, but movies from the era stayed with me and I actually watch them again from time to time.

Since then the Terminator franchise grew a lot too (movie wise) both in good and bad ways but the original movies The Terminator and Terminator 2 remains the founding principle of the whole thing. Through the decades, quite a lot of attempts were made to develop Terminator video games on various platforms. Unfortunately most of those efforts were relying more on trying to make money from brand recognition rather than making good games.

And today here's the latest officially approved Terminator game in the line, Terminator Resistance. So is it any good?

The events of Terminator Resistance take place during the final weeks of the "war against the machines" that is very partially evoked in the two first movies (mostly through the nightmares of Kyle Reese remembering his days on the front). Technically the story is tied to the events in the movies and ends with the capture of the time machine that allowed Reese and Model 101 to go back in the past to protect respectively Sarah Connor and John Connor.

But where does the player's character fit into that story? He's called Jacob Rivers and is a simple Private with the resistance, Pacific Division. As the story starts he's literally running for his life, pursued by Terminators after the total annihilation of the Pacific Division. He was on his way to rejoin the South Division under Commander Jessica Baron but finds nothing in Pasadena, where they were supposed to be stationed, except for more death, destruction and Terminators. He receives guidance in his flight by an unknown person over the radio and that guidance likely saves his life. Last survivor of his division, Jacob joins forces with civilians attempting to flee the area and finally escapes Pasadena with them always in search of the South Division.

He has an important message to give to the resistance. Because the thing is, the whole of the Pacific Division was annihilated by just one unit, a Terminator from a new model that no one had seen before, part man, part machine. A cyborg.

What Jacob doesn't know but will soon learn is that the Pacific Division was just collateral damage. This evolved machine had only one goal, Jacob Rivers termination. And so Jacob find his name on a very short list of people who are marked for termination by Skynet, like John and Sarah Connor. For some reason known only to itself, Skynet decided that Jacob, a mere private, had some very important role to play in the war and therefore was a primary target.

On the gameplay level, Terminator Resistance is a mix of FPS, RPG and survival game. The way you will play it though depends on the skills you choose to invest in. One can be a juggernaut of destruction by investing in weapons and endurance or rather the stealthy type investing in stealth, hacking and lockpicking or a mix adding things like crafting. The level cap is 28 though (which one can reach easily enough before the endgame) so 27 skill points (plus a couple more one can find in the field via skill books) which means one cannot get all the skills in the same playthrough but hey, that's a trademark of RPGs, so no complaining.

On one personal taste note, the hacking mini-game featured in here is one of the most lamentable I've ever played and I think I played most games featuring hacking mini-games. As for the lockpicking mini-game, apparently Teyon was completely out of fresh ideas because they went "hey, you know those games Fallout 3, Skyrim... let's copy that, OK? Good enough". In other words, chances are that you won't get your minds blown up by the mini-games in Terminator Resistance, be warned.

One can stealth parts of the game but certainly not every part. Even with a stealth skill maxed, you'll get discovered at some point so it's probably preferable to invest also in weapons and endurance because fights are unavoidable and Terminators are not kidding and some parts of the game are really punishing. That said, if you really know how to handle your stealth, you can use a "termination knife" (single use only but craftable and/or available at your nearest quartermaster) to definitely disable a Terminator. It only works on humanoid models though (T-800 and over).

The combat is OK. One starts the game with an array of low key weapons straight from the 80s era to stay in touch with the movies (Colt M1911, M16, UZI, Shotgun). Those weapons are fine for low level enemies like spiders, non armored drones... Against Terminators and above (yeah there's worse than a Terminator) those weapons are definitely not what you want. There come the plasma weapons to save the day. You get one for free as soon as you contact the resistance.

Plasma weapons can be tweaked. Killing Terminators (or most robotic enemy, really) allows to retrieve a skynet chip. Those chips can then be used to augment the capability of your plasma weapons. More damage, more round per clip, more stability or increased fire rate -- a secondary function of the chips is to allow to bypass the idiotic hacking mini-game so my advice is: use the high-level chips and keep the low level ones to bypass hacking. Plasma weapons are complemented by explosives (pipe bombs or the most powerful "can grenade" -- both are featured in the first movie) and two types of rocket launcher that only differ by the guiding system employed (laser or thermal).

Unlike the movies, in which the war against the machines happens mainly at night, missions in the game occur for one half during nighttime and the other half during the day. Which allowed the developers to re-use the maps. Generally you play one mission on one map during the day (or night) and then later you play another mission during the night (or day) on the same map. That's not necessarily a very bad thing as you really have to pay attention to actually see that it's the same map, however it's the occasion to remark that the game could have easily been much more varied and extended. As it is the total playtime clocks at around 12 hours for a first playthrough. And the game although offering multiple ways to reach a same goal (one of the things the game get right) is also not as open as it could have been.

Most of the time, Jacob accomplishes a mission alone but in a few cases -- because after all it is a war -- he will be accompanied by troops mostly in cases of a full assault on the enemy. Having troops with you really gives you the additional feeling to be engaged in a combat action and those are generally intense phases during which you don't really have time to think, especially because your soldiers tend rush into fire. Not having troops with you allows you to take it slow and develop your own tactics.

Character interaction is... well, basic enough. You have the choice to get to know your main acquaintances by talking to them in the shelter between missions which give you some amount of reputation with them (and in most cases it doesn't even matter what you say as long as you take the time to talk to them which is sadly another RPG shortcut taken in this title). This reputation may be important late in the game (especially for the two possible "romances" presented). However this aspect of the game seems rushed due to the fact that the game is on the short side. The romances in particular are virtually pushed into your arms because there was no time to develop something deeper which is a shame for a game that wants to be part of the "look I'm a cool cyber RPG survival post-apocalypse" thing. Unfortunately the game is far too short for the RPG genre even though the length is adequate enough (not ideal but "enough") for a shooter.

The thing that really... well not quite pisses me off but saddens me it's that this game could have been so much more than it actually is. The base project in itself was ambitious, unfortunately this ambition didn't translate well into the final product, possibly because of a lack of money and time. Maps could have been more varied, more extended and open, missions more numerous, characters interactions more meaningful and so on. Suffice to say that there is a lot of room for improvement here.

Still, despite its quite numerous shortcomings -- as far as RPG, mini-games, characters interactions and length are concerned -- I can't deny that I had fun playing this game and fun is the most important thing to expect from a game. Terminator Resistance successfully captures the look and feel of the old Terminator movies, especially during nighttime. It definitely scratches the nostalgia itch. Even the voice actor they chose for Jacob has some amusing voice similarities with Michael Biehn (whom for those new to the whole Terminator thing was the actor playing Kyle Reese in the original movie).

The game received poor to average marks from professional reviewers and, for once, even though I rarely agree with them, I can understand where they are coming from on this because they saw the same problems I've seen. Nevertheless it received quite good marks from gamers (and I guess especially those from my generation and Terminator fans) whom like me managed to overlook its flaws to retain the good.

In the end, appreciating Terminator Resistance is most likely a culture thing. Those who are too young to remember fondly the old movies and era (probably the same who are asking "Friends? What's that?") will possibly despise the game because -- and it's sadly true -- it falls short in a number of areas compared to other recent productions. But me personally? I like.

Yeah, call me biased and kick me if you will but... I'LL BE BACK.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein