If you told me that I’d be playing a Terminator game, I’d have called you crazy. Not only would I have believed it could be nothing but tie-in trash, but also that I doubt it would ever exist. And yet here we are with Terminator Resistance, a game that is far better than it has any right to be. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that the story is better than the last four movies and it barely features John Connor and the iconic T-800 based on Arnold Schwarzenegger is nowhere to be found, only T-800's in endoskeleton form.
The story of the game revolves around Resistance Pacific Division Private Jacob Rivers whose whole division was wiped out by an Infiltrator unit. He finds himself in Pasadena, California where a community of survivors is being massacred by the Machines as their Annihilation Line sweeps across the land. You flee with a group of survivors and from there your story begins.
If you’ve ever played a Bethesda or Bioware game before then you should feel right at home in Terminator Resistance. While not open world, the levels are open and feature various collectibles and crafting materials to find. If you speak to other characters before venturing out you’ll receive side quests that you can complete and gain favor with those characters, but it has to be done during that section as you won’t be able to return later. The choices you make in conversations as well as how you complete quests does factor in to events later in the game. And for completing quests, performing mini games, and defeating enemies you gain experience points which will eventually level you up and allow you to spend skill points. In my one and only playthrough of the game so far, I had almost unlocked everything and completed every single quest and gained maximum favor with every character, so it is possible to do everything in a single playthrough though your decisions will change which ending you get so keep that in mind. That’s where the replayability is.
Speaking of similarities to Bioware games, Terminator Resistance also presents you with the opportunity to romance one of two characters: Resistance Commander Baron or the scavenger Jennifer. You do this by talking to them upon your return from missions and advancing their personal stories, getting them to open up to you. That being said, Baron is clearly the “Renegade” option and Jennifer is the “Paragon” option. Their personalities are polar opposites and the requirements to get their love scenes are just as matching. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that the aforementioned love scenes are censored in all versions of the game. This was done at the very last second and revealed to be due to requests directly from both Microsoft and Sony. Since it was last minute, all the developers at Teyon did was zoom the camera in and apply letterboxing to cover the bare breasts. It’s not a big change and when watching the scenes side by side it is very negligible. However, if you must have the original uncut versions, then fear not if you’re a PC player. A program does exist on the website Fearless Revolution that allows you to effectively hack the game and unlock console commands. All you need to do when you get to the scene in question is set the FOV to 100 and then, once the scene begins(Do not do it while there is still dialogue options), use the console again to hide the HUD. The FOV will zoom the camera back out and hiding the HUD gets rid of the letterbox effect, exposing the scene as it was originally intended. If you’re on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One however, sorry but you’re out of luck. Of course, the caveat for PC players is that there is no way to undo the hidden HUD, which also gets rid of all dialogue choices and thus stops progression entirely, unless you back out of the game and restart. There is a checkpoint after these scenes so you won’t have to go back through them again.
In terms of gunplay and enemies, the ballistic weapons feel appropriately weighty and great to use, and they work on most enemies in the game. Spiders, Silverfish, Tanks, Drones, they can all be taken out with ballistic weapons and most of these enemies are not all that deadly if you get into a firefight with them. However, once the Terminators come into play, things get a lot more interesting. Early in the game you will not have the necessary weapons to kill one of them. You need plasma weapons to harm a Terminator and you need to reach a certain point in the game to unlock them. Even then, headshots are the only viable shots to take as body shots do not do enough DPS. Even at higher Weapon levels body shots still are not as effective as headshots. And when you’re not dealing enough damage or don’t even have the appropriate weaponry, having Terminator’s stalking around is a very tense experience.
Shame, then, that the AI is ridiculously dumb. If you die, it’s likely because you were out in the open or you let a Terminator get too close to you. They only walk, making them pretty easy to play hide and seek with, and if you duck behind anything after being spotted, it breaks line of sight and if it takes them long enough to reach where you were, their detection will time out and they’ll go back to patrolling on their preset paths. Heck, you could duck behind something, they’ll walk up to it on the opposite side, and never walk around it to find you. Even on higher difficulties the AI and its pathing are just as dumb. That is the only downside.
One of the other key parts of this game is its soundtrack. It’s not a particularly big soundtrack, but it’s good. There are some calm tracks for when you’re exploring, tense combat tracks when an enemy spots you, and then there’s the classic Terminator theme which is just perfect here.
A good chunk of the soundtrack is basically just remixes of the Terminator theme to fit various different scenarios. My favorite, aside from the main theme, is the love theme version. It’s just so good and fitting. The track in general just has this feeling of hope to it and it works perfectly in so many cases.
As for the overall story of the game, it does tread familiar story beats as other Terminator stories and it makes you a major player in the Resistance to justify a lot of what is happening. But it works it in well enough that it isn’t off-putting. The game also switches genre’s from time to time. There are sections where stealth is really the only option, most sections offer you plenty of freedom in choosing how you approach a situation and how you reach your objective, and then others are just full blown action set pieces that feel right for a game set post-Judgment Day. And those scenes are definitely where the music really ramps up the atmosphere. It’s fun and the game moves you along from mission to mission are a decent pace that is only as slow as you want it to be while not dragging the story longer than it has to. All in all I got a solid 11 hours out of the game while getting that 100% along the way.
All in all, at the end of the day, Terminator Resistance was well worth the forty bucks. It’s not even a full price game and honestly at times I felt like it should have been. That is not something I say often in an era where publishers push out a blank slate for full price and finish it later. Tie-in games are usually never this good. Marvel’s Spider-Man is an exception, and that had all the budget and development time it needed while also not being tied to the release of a movie. I will not call Terminator Resistance one of the best games of 2019, there are far too many of those, but it does stand close to them. I cannot recommend this game enough, both to Terminator fans and fans of RPG’s.