It’s safe to say that most video games based on the Terminator franchise have been rubbish. Terminator: Resistance breaks the trend, although it’s still far from being a great game.
Set during the Future War scenario that the original Terminator film and its sequel gave us a glimpse of, Terminator: Resistance plops you in control of Jacob Rivers. A private in the Resistance, he’s on the run after a half-man, half-machine infiltrator destroyed his division, hoping to find other members of the Resistance so he can warn them of this new threat. On the way, however, he bumps into a ragtag bunch of survivors, and they soon become enveloped in the whole mess.
While Terminator: Resistance is a linear, level-based game, it does try to give you some freedom. In between missions which simply require you to progress forward, killing any mechanical monstrosities before you, including iconic T-800s, there are others that let you loose on fairly sizeable maps in which there are side objectives for you to find and complete, as well as plenty of looting to be done. Running and shooting takes a backseat in these missions, too. It’s actually often a better tactic to sneak from objective to objective, only engaging in combat if it’s absolutely necessary. Though by doing so you’ll be missing out on valuable experience earned by killing things.
Along with a levelling system, which allows you to pump skill points into various helpful abilities, Terminator: Resistance also allows you to craft your own items with materials you’ve looted from the environment and enemies. Locked containers can be opened via a rudimentary lock-picking minigame if your skills are high enough, while panels and gun emplacements can be hacked via a minigame that is essentially Frogger. The mix of all-out action and more slower-paced adventure helps to hold your attention. Add in moments of respite back at various shelters in which you can talk to other survivors to build bonds and buy and sell equipment, and you have a game that’s surprisingly well-paced.
The difficulty level you play Terminator: Resistance on very much determines the experience you have. On Easy you’re free to play it very gung-ho, shooting everything that moves until it’s just a pile of scrap, including menacing T-800s and mech-like T-47s once you have access to plasma weapons. Shove the difficulty up to hard, however, and things become much more tense. Everything but the smallest of robots becomes a real threat, forcing you to utilise stealth more often. You’ll actually fear coming face to face with a single T-800, let alone small group of them. The crafting system becomes more invaluable too, and how you spend your skill points.
Aside from the odd little touches that prove Terminator: Resistance is actually a labour of love for its developers, what stands out about most the game is that it’s unremarkable in every way. It nails a post-apocalyptic landscape brought on by machines, but visually there’s nothing that impresses beyond its robot designs. Gameplay-wise, its first-person shooting works just fine, but it’s missing a certain something to make it exciting. It doesn’t really try to anything original, instead just borrowing elements from other games and throwing them together. Thankfully they stick.
By far the worst thing thing about Terminator: Resistance is the quality of some of its voice recordings. While lip syncing is a bit hit-and-miss, it’s an issue that pales in comparison to the poor audio quality of some characters’ dialogue. That of your love interest Jennifer is the worst, which is a shame as she’s one of the most vocal characters in the game. The actual acting isn’t too bad, but sometimes when characters speak it sounds overblown and distorted. Maybe it’s simply a bug in the Xbox One version, or maybe there are just some bad recordings. Either way, it ruins your immersion in the game’s world.
All in all though, Terminator: Resistance is a game that punches above its weight. Perhaps it’s because I expected it to be truly terrible after the likes of Terminator 3: The Redemption and Terminator: Salvation, but I actually found myself pleasantly surprised by it. I enjoyed it. It’s a game obviously constrained by its budget, trading ambition for tried-and-tested mechanics that are merely adequate. You’re not going to be wowed playing Terminator: Resistance, but you’re not going to be bored either. There’s nothing broken about it; nothing that’s frustrating. It’s just an all-round solid game, albeit one that feels rather old-fashioned.
If you’re a fan of the Terminator franchise and are after a single-player experience that lets you faithfully enter its world, you won’t be disappointed with Terminator: Resistance. Even its story is pretty good. Just don’t go in expecting a big-budget epic, because that’s not what it is. It’s simply a budget game with a fair amount of soul.
Terminator: Resistance is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. We reviewed the Xbox One version.
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