I’ve a certain fondness for early 00’s shooters. Before all the micro-transactions, loot grinds and social hubs basically turning them into to MMO-lites, it was great to simply start from point A, follow some linear areas and end up at point B. Terminator: Resistance remembers this time too, feeling as it does like a title that could quite happily have been one of the more lavish titles of that era. While somewhat basic by modern standards, I did find the majority of my time with it to be enjoyable – to a point.
Set around the events of the Future War only glimpsed at in the original films, we play as Jacob Rivers, picking up with him just as his squad based in Pasadena has been slaughtered. A mysterious stranger saves him from the same fate and helps him to escape. From there, we meet several other resistance survivors who are making a break for a safe haven. It this small band of characters that we will spend the rest of the game interacting with. While the performances are all a bit wooden, I enjoyed checking in with each of them between missions. Doing so raises their opinion of you, in turn affecting your options later in the game. Across the several districts we visit, each person will offer up side missions to complete too. Generally, these will fall under the natural flow of level progression; rarely did I have to go out of my way to complete any. All of this is in aid of a narrative that is, well, fine. Rivers is one of the few marked for termination, behind John Connor and Sgt. Baron (another character we meet later on). Even though he is supposedly such a threat though, Rivers still fills the role of every man, fetching lost items, patching up relationships and sneaking off on dangerous missions alone. Outside of a few key moments, the story feels quite by the numbers, not really getting its hooks in. Again, I enjoyed interacting with the characters, but without this I feel the tale would’ve been all together unforgettable.
But really, we’re here for the Terminators aren’t we. The first encounter with the machines is a tense, well paced affair; you are unable to fight back so must sneak past a handful of them through vents and in quick scurries across open rooms. The dramatic music and sense that they are never far behind you adds to the tension in a great way. It’s not long however before they revert into shooting gallery foes. Gun play is rudimentary, with the AI machines hardly coming across as a true threat. Often times, they are simply happy to stand in place getting pummelled in the face until falling over. They still dish out some damage, even on standard difficulty, but the only real threat comes when you’re backed into a corner and they grab you – an insta-kill that sees you taken back to the last checkpoint. Larger machines add a little variety to the mix, but only the HK Tanks require anything other than full on assault to conquer. Getting out of the line of sight allows you to sneak up behind foes – a stealth kill possible if you have the correct, finite weapon – though a lot of the time simply blasting away soon cleared an area enough to where this wasn’t really needed.
There is an upgrade system in place, for both you and your weapons, but to be honest it feels a little by the numbers. Weapons are upgraded by slotting in Skynet chips found on defeated machines; three of these are need to upgrade a weapon, each with symbols on either side that must match the adjacent chip. It feels a little forced to impose this restriction, though you’ll end up with so many chips as to make it a moot point. Chips, items and weapons can be sold and bought at various vendors in the hub areas too, so even if the vast amount of item crates found in game somehow don’t give you enough to get by there’s plenty of chance to top up between missions.
Every time you level up, you’re granted points to spend on various perks – from better sneaking or hacking to being able to take more damage, or increasing your inventory size. Nothing out of the ordinary, and rarely did it feel like you were truly getting an advantage. By the time you’re sufficient level to handle the powerful plasma weapons, the game is ending, one final (final…) fight making good use of them.
On that topic, my biggest gripe is that the game seemingly reaches an end several times over, far outstaying any interest I had in the main story. Perhaps I was just being impatient, but when yet another mission leads in with ‘This is it’ style dialogue, only for some swerve to extend the run-time I started to get frustrated. Throughout the story you are hunted by an Infiltrator – the new wave of human like machines sent to kill those marked for termination – that culminates in a rather bland boss fight. Things felt like they were wrapping up, only for the game to then go on for another 3 hours on top of the already 10 or so already passed. Upon completion it makes more sense, but along the way it felt more like extra padding for the sake of things.
Technically the game is quite outdated. The visuals are early 360–era quality, with basic models and animation on top of the washed out art style. Hub areas are full of characters, but generally they are waiting in place for you to interact with them. Loading times are rather long, and I had more than one instance of the UI when looting a chest get stuck on screen as I was running around, necessitating a restart.
Despite these misgivings though, I had a fairly enjoyable time with Terminator: Resistance. Sure, its mechanics, looks and technical aspects all feel as though the last 10 years of progression in gaming didn’t happen, but as a straight shooting FPS it does a passable job of entertaining. The campaign over stays it’s welcome, but along the way there are some quite likeable characters that make the journey more bearable. It would have been nice to have the death bringing army of machines feel more of a genuine threat rather than a pop up gallery; if the tension in that early scene could’ve been maintained we might have had something quite special on our hands here. As it is, we have a pretty bog standard shooter that feels a decade too late to the party.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.