There is a severe lack of games out right now that I actually want to play. Every now and again when this type of game-drought occurs, I will take the chance on something I normally wouldn't play. Sometimes it works out great, (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Kameo, Dead Space) and sometimes the game ends up being so bad, it hurts my nether regions. The latter of the two outcomes was the case with Terminator: Salvation. When I first saw the game being put freshly onto the shelf, I thought to myself, "it's friggin Terminator! How bad could it really be?" Well, let me tell you, IT IS BAD. Not even the great Arnold, or the inclusion of the mysteriously missing online co-op could have saved this P.O.S. of a game. More on that later. As of the day I decided to rent it, I had actually only seen a few clips of gameplay on TeamXbox.com that actually looked pretty decent. Third person over-the-shoulder cover-based shooter, a la Gears of War, set in the Terminator realm? I'm in! Make no mistake about it, Gears of War-esque this game is DEFINITELY not!
Let's start with the very few things this game actually does right. First and foremost, the cover system works pretty good for the most part, kind of. Most of the cover in the post-apocalyptic L.A. environments are interactive. From car carcasses to small walls and rubble, you can pretty much take cover on just about anything. A touch of the A-button will have your character take cover just like Gears of war. Only difference, (which really bugged me) is you basically have to walk directly up to the cover and hold A for a second to take cover. It would have been nice to have some sort of a dive or dash like Gears has. Once in cover, if there are other objects nearby to take cover and advance position, a sort of pie graph comes up to show where you can actually advance to. This is where the game slightly shines. The animations of your character sliding in and out of cover are spectacular! This is a bit ironic as the rest of the game's animations, (particularly in the cutscenes) are downright atrocious. Another aspect that was done pretty decently was the music score, (although it did get a bit repetitive as the game progressed) which sounded a lot like what you would see in one of the Terminator movies. The graphics and environments aren't mind blowing, but you can tell way more effort was put into the lighting and shading and graphics as a whole in comparison to the gameplay.
Another thing I found semi-impressive was the enemy AI, especially the "spider" type robots. These enemies usually show up in pairs, if not 3 or 4 of them, and the only way to defeat them is to flank while in cover to get some shots on the battery located on their back, as they are invulnerable to fire from the front. This is another time the game actually does something right, as you are always paired up with 2 to 3 squadmates. You must slide around from cover to cover and get these robots into a crossfire in which case either yourself or your squadmates will plug them from behind (OK that came out wrong). Again the irony here is a bit strange. The bots themselves are so smart sometimes it feels like you just can't trick these things into giving up their back. But once you do lure them into coming after you, the AI of your squadmates is too pathetic to be beneficial to you. Often times you will find yourself pinned down, your squadmates fail at taking the wide open shots, so the awesome series of dives you performed in cover to flank these bad-boys proved worthless. This is frustrating, especially on the harder difficulty. The few weapons that are available sound and feel decent, which ironically enough, (yes more irony) does not transfer over to the explosions. That's really about it on the good side.
Now for the bad, which out-weighs the good by a hefty margin. Let's begin with the controls. There is no sprint button, no roll, no dive and not even a decent weapon changing command. The grenades and pipe-bombs are mapped to the right bumper, with no recticule for aiming where you would like to throw them. So you got your basic: trigger to shoot, A to cover, B to switch weapons and right bumper to throw grenades.. that's it? That's it. It sure would have been nice to utilize the awesome 360 controller to perform a few more actions. The game feels so bare-bones. It honestly feels like the game was made in a day or two. The story is practically non-existent, the cutscenes are horribly animated and far too frequent, and even the loading screen sucks! By about the eleventeenth time in ten minutes you see the Endo-Terminator's face during the loading screen, you will want to punch a baby!
Sometimes the game will go into a cutscene, come out of it and have your character walk 2 or 3 steps before it loads another one. WTF is the point of that? Picking up weapons is frustratingly difficult, sometimes the animation of throwing explosives doesn't work and many times you have a clear shot around cover only to find yourself shooting into the cover right in front of you. On top of that, the Endo-Terminators and "skin walkers" take far too much to kill. The game is not directed well, and does not progress well enough to do the Terminator franchise justice. The enemy variation consists of three types of enemies throughout the entire game: the common Endo-Terminator we are familiar with, small flying sentinel-type bots called "wasps" and the aforementioned "spider" bots. That is it! The WHOLE game. A couple times throughout the game you will shoot down a Hunter Killer, (basically a airplane-like Terminator) which is pretty uneventful. The game also throws in a couple rail missions where you will be on the turret of a buggy or truck, or shooting RPG's on the back of a train. There is even one section where you take control of the large mech-style Terminator, although you are not moving it, just aiming. The whole section is done in the red vision (like Arnold sees in the first 2 movies) which was a poor choice and really takes away from the originality of it.
Another thing I found unacceptable was the selection of weapons. Basically two machine guns, a very scarce rocket launcher or Grenade launcher and a shotgun is all you can use to do major damage. The machine guns are pretty worthless, as well as the few turrets. I found myself using the shotgun the majority of the game as it was extremely accurate even from across the map. On that note, the levels were so linear and uncreative. Many times there were stairways or balconies that would seem like good flanking positions, but end up being worthless. The game is just downright unpolished and it shows throughout. I kept thinking it would get better as it progressed, but it never really did.
There were several other gripes I won't even go into, as this game is barely even deserving of a review in the first place. The campaign only lasted about three hours or so for me, and by the end I still didn't even know that a story had been set into motion. You can play split-screen on the same console, but not online which is a shame as it might have made this game a little more tolerable. Most of the game's action is really bogged down by framerate issues and screen tearing, especially during the slightly enjoyable rail-style missions. There are no collectibles and no interesting unlockables/trophies/achievements to speak of and my advice is to just pass on this one unless you're looking for an easy 1000 gamerscore. Here is to hoping the movie is better than the game was!
GOBEE's Opinion (similar to DIGGITY's):
My buddy rented Terminator: Salvation the other day and invited me over for some co-op. I heard the game wasn't that good but it could be finished in about 4 hours. We had some time to kill before the Laker game so we tried the game out and well... we didn't even last 20 minutes before we were so disgusted with this game, it had to be turned off. If there had been a baby around, surely it would have been punched because of this monstrosity. I'm more disgusted that this game was even released to the general public as if this game added any value to the gaming community, other than to show other game developers exactly what not to do. I have to be careful here because the language I want to use in describing this game is so horrific, Google might shut my blog down. In fact, some of the words I would like to use, haven't even been invented yet.
This game should truly go down in the record books as one of the worst, most half-assed, shit filled game... ever. Or at least in the top 5 shitty games. (hmmm... future post?) I can't remember that many bad games but this one stands out like a bright shiny turd nugget in a bucket of milk. I don't even know what the hell that means my friends.. but it sure as hell can't be good.
PSA: Do not buy this game. Do not rent this game. Thank us later.