The Terminator franchise has long since established that things are not always as they seem on the surface, with robots that pose as naked Austrian bodybuilders, liquid metal machines that disguise themselves as friendly policemen, and movie sequels that pretend to be even the slightest bit necessary. Terminator: Resistance stays true to that idea; it certainly has the convincing appearance of a modern day first-person shooter campaign, but beneath the shiny veneer its mechanics and AI are seemingly ripped straight from another period in time, as though it’s a game that’s been sent forward from 2003 to hide in the plain sight of the present on a mission to terminate hours of your life.Much like the latest film, Terminator: Dark Fate, Terminator: Resistance wisely ignores the events of every film subsequent to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Set in 2028 Los Angeles, Terminator: Resistance casts the player as Jacob Rivers, a soldier in John Connor’s army who must band together with other human resistance members to stave off the “annihilation line” of terminators systematically wiping out all life on the planet. Its plot chronicles the future-set events that lead up to Kyle Reese and the terminator Model 101’s arrival in 1984, and could well have served as a satisfying, Rogue One-esque bit of back story for fans were it not for the truly terrible dialogue and stilted voice acting that delivers so much of it.
Terminator: Resistance takes the franchise’s obsession with making your own fate to heart, offering a healthy amount of player choice along the way. Choices may be small, such as deciding between leaving a medikit for an NPC or selfishly taking it for yourself, or large, such as whether you want to help a young woman and her little brother abscond from the underground shelter that acts as a hub in between levels, or convince them to stay. But the sum total of these choices feels fairly inconsequential, determining which ending you’ll arrive at upon the story’s completion (assembled into an unsatisfying sequence of static storyboard images), as well as which female NPC you’ll have hilariously awkward first-person sex with.
I’ll Be Bad
Ultimately the only really meaningful choice you’ll ever have to make in Terminator: Resistance, is whether you want to keep brainlessly blasting your way through to its completion, or hop in your car, drive back to the store and try and exchange it for something better. I suggest you hold on to your receipt, because Terminator: Resistance starts out as an extremely unsatisfying shooter and never really improves over the course of its 10-hour long, single-player-only campaign.
In fact, the actual terminators don’t even show up to fight you until a couple of hours in; prior to their arrival you’re just machine gunning robot spiders and sentry drones as you tread and retread the same burnt out sections of post-apocalyptic Pasadena. Then when the skeletal cyborgs do arrive, they’re shockingly inept and underpowered; these aren’t merciless murderers that will shrug off your attacks and relentlessly pursue you like Resident Evil 2’s Mr. X, they’re just tin man terminators who haplessly march into the path of your plasma rifle’s rounds and meekly shudder into a scattered pile of spare parts. I’ve made phone calls on smarter Androids.
Besides, the odds are just too heavily stacked in the player’s favour at all times. Where there are terminators, there’s always an explosive plasma barrel for them to stand around – as though it’s a water cooler and they’re swapping gossip about Cyberdyne’s secretaries – until you plug a round into their midst and annihilate them with one shot. Additionally, an enemy-highlighting thermal vision mode can be toggled on and off at any moment, allowing you to see through walls and eliminate any possibility of an enemy ambush. On the rare occasion the terminators do catch you unawares, they’re about as accurate with their shots as a shortsighted Stormtrooper. Indeed it’s the player who is by far the most coldly efficient killer in Terminator: Resistance, which seems like a pretty major design oversight.
Terminator: Resistance also gives you noise-making gadgets to encourage a more stealth-based approach, stimulants to slow down time during shootouts, and crafting tables to manufacture your own pipe bombs and medikits. But most of this is unnecessary since the guns are so powerful, ammunition is plentiful, and the enemies are so incredibly insipid. In Terminator: Resistance’s second half you get to take on hulking mechs and the airborne Hunter-Killer drones, but despite the fact they each look appropriately imposing, both of them take a dive before you can mumble a half-hearted hasta la vista, baby.
Terminator: Resistance isn’t all bad, though. The hacking minigame that’s used to bypass doors and turn automated turrets against your enemies, resembles a monochromatic version of Frogger. And I like Frogger. So at least there’s that.