Saturday, January 18, 2020

Terminator: Resistance (PS4, 2020)

We've waited a really, really long time for a good Terminator game with modern visuals. After that kind of wait, all this game needed to do was be decent and not broken. Well, turns out it's a pretty darn cool game that does a lot right. It does what any post-T2 movie should have done to begin with and gives us the story leading up to the end of the war (and the beginning of the first two movies).

This takes place in the "Los Angeles 2029" setting of the flash-forwards in the first two movies. Completely ignores anything else in the series. This is all about fleshing out the scenes from the future in those two movies.

T-800's are the new model on the scene in this game, and they're wreaking havoc. With the T-800's imperviousness to bullets, the Resistance is scrambling to get ahold of Skynet's new laser weapons. You play as Rivers, a hardened Resistance soldier who has an important role to play in the ending of the war, and doesn't know it yet.

This is a level-based game with ten or so areas to traverse. Each area is somewhat open-world, however, with shops and quests and so forth. They emulated Fallout 3 quite a bit here and it was a good choice. It's too bad you can't return to earlier levels (so it isn't truly an open world) and there are generally only 2-3 quests to do in each area, but it was a good try. If they wanted to go all-out with this game it could have been a lot more than it is, but I'm not complaining about what we got.

Here's the x-ray scope that you're equipped with for the entire game. It lets you see machines before they see you, and makes the game MUCH easier than it would have been without it. At times it practically feels like cheating.

You don't get lasers until around the 40% mark of the game and you don't get the iconic purple lasers until around the 85% mark. So for the first few chapters you're progressing through a fairly generic assortment of real-world ballistic weapons. All of them are seen in the movies: Beretta (seen here), Uzi 9mm, M16, and 10-gauge shotgun. Once lasers are acquired, only the shotgun continues to be useful. It can knock terminators over (without damaging them) which gives you a chance to switch weapons and blast them with lasers.

You also get a crowbar as a melee weapon right before the pistol. I never used it for the entire game, so...yeah.

Here's Jennifer, the love interest of the game.

She's got a little brother and you end up helping them out.

More hiding from T-800s. Sometimes they walk right past you. This game is debatably at its best gameplay-wise when it makes you hide from unstoppable killing machines. This also makes it more cathartic later on when you can defeat them. At first I thought the game should have given you purple lasers from the beginning, but now I'm glad it didn't. I do wish there was more to do at the high end once you have them though.

Your character is wildly-unsafe, talking to people with a finger on the trigger and the safety off. At least he points the gun upward like Sarah Connor in T2.

Spider-Mechs start showing up before long. Bullets work on these things though. Not sure if they're supposed to be Centurions or proto-Centurions. Inclined to say the former, since the timeframe matches up. Also, the Terminator Salvation game had proto-Centurions, and this very much feels like a superior follow-up to that game.

Using the Uzi 9mm to take out flying scouts. The early-game has a lot of you fighting the equivalent of bugs and rats in an MMORPG newbie area.

The first mention of the Annihilation Line, a nearly-omnipotent force that Skynet has deployed to rumble across the land and destroy everything in its path. In response to the threat posed by the Resistance at this point, Skynet is at maximum alert. Also noteworthy: The Annihilation Line is the Skynet force seen at the beginning of T2.

The good news is that Skynet's forces move in waves, so once a wave passes, an area might be fairly quiet and safe for a little while. People can drive and everything! least until they run out of gas, which every vehicle does in this world without gas stations.

There's a pretty decent crafting system in this game where you can use resources to put together a lot of good stuff, like traps and explosives. Though mostly I ended up just making lockpicks and medkits.

The vending machines in this game all seem to have lots of intact, if dusty, goods in them.

The inventory system is very similar to a Resident Evil game. The backpack is limiting in size, though it can be expanded with ability points as you level up. That's right, there's a skill tree where you can spend points as you gain EXP in this game. It's a little bare-bones compared to a Fallout, but it's there. More on that later.

Some daytime fighting, as the M-16 is acquired. The stages in this game have some impressive layouts.

There's some nice attention to detail at times, like this grafitti explaining the weak point of the Centurions. Every hit to their eye is an automatic critical hit.

There's one quest here that might be a reference to the "Metalhead" episode of Black Mirror. The episode in question is, funnily enough, a reference to things like The Terminator.

The Los Angeles skyline has looked better.

That "Do not touch machines" sign shows up a lot, humorously.

Infiltrator T-800s are newly-arrived on the scene at this point, and one attempts to kill your character at this point only to be plowed into by a truck. He'll be back, though.

This particular terminator is tougher than any of the others you encounter in the game, and there's a reason for that: It's actually from the future. Like, a couple months in the future, but yeah. It's one of the machines Skynet sends back at the end of the war.

Your character gets rescued by this Assassin's Creed character, who I thought was John Connor. It isn't, but I'm not going to spoil too much about what the story is here.

AH! JESUS! ...oh, it's just the little brother.

Erin here bears a striking resemblance to Sarah Connor in the latest movie. She's an interesting character because she did time in a Skynet experimental camp. The stories she tells about it are some of the more interesting bits of lore, like how there was one terminator dressed up to look like a nurse that the machines sent to interact with the prisoners and throw them off-guard.

Speaking of lore, another character with tons of lore is Ryan, who is getting too old for this shit. He was present on Judgment Day and knows all about it and the immediate aftermath. The machines were basically nonexistent for a few years after that and the main threat was other people. Eventually machines started appearing, like the "weird-looking" T-400 that seemed more ridiculous than threatening...until it opened fire on whatever unsuspecting people were seeing it for the first time.

Eventually, the Resistance came into being as people figured out what the threat was, and then Skynet had to ramp up production to build deadlier and more numerous machines.

The next chapter transpires in a hospital. Skynet really likes to repurpose hospitals as scientific facilities. Rivers has to go in and save some prisoners from whatever unholiness is going on.

I kinda wish this game had some of the earlier terminator models that you COULD use guns on. It starts with T-800s and then gives you...stronger T-800s. I think there are four or five types of T-800 in total. Even if there were budgetary issues preventing earlier terminator models from being created...the T-700 basically looks the same as the T-800 except dark and steel instead of shiny and chrome.

Speaking of terminators, I like Jennifer here, but with that thousand-yard stare it wouldn't surprise me if she's one of Them.

Silverfish are some of the game's more nefarious enemies. They slither along the ground and explode when they get close, insta-killing you. These were supposed to be in T2, like Centurions, and were cut due to budget. They made it into T2: The Arcade Game at least. They're also basically stolen from Scanners, because James Cameron may be brilliant but he isn't the most original guy around.

You can reprogram turrets to fight for you in this game, Bioshock-style. This is a HUGE help because they made the turrets really overpowered, especially on higher difficulties. I played most of this game on the highest difficulty and it wasn't bad at all if I did things like making sure to hack all of the turrets.

The hospital interior, like all Skynet facilities, has the laser-fences from Terminator Genisys. Turns out they're solid.

A terminator walks by, dragging a body. This hospital is legitimately horrifying and the first time the game really gets interesting. It's basically Terminator: Isolation.

Here's a clip of me hiding from a T-800, as they continue to have terrible peripheral vision. If they spot you, it's curtains pretty much immediately.

Crazy cameo here, as we find a deceased resistance soldier that looks like Robert Patrick. This doesn't just have to be fanservice, either. Since this is a research facility, it's entirely possible Skynet was copying this guy to mold the T-1000 prototype after.

X-ray vision continues to be borderline-cheating, and it helps me dodge these erratic T-800s as they patrol.

There's a hacking minigame (yeah, like Bioshock) and it's a sort of early Atari-level game of dodging. It's fun at first, though it wears out its welcome after a while. You can skip it by then by feeding it Skynet CPUs dropped by enemies.

At the end of the hospital area, I manage to hack a few turrets and lead T-800s into their laser crossfire by plinking bullets off of them and running for cover.

Not sure if you're "supposed" to do this or what, because it felt like the game still intended you to be stealthing your way out of here.

I scavenge a plasma rifle from a defeated T-800, but can't use it yet due to my experience level not being high enough.

They really nailed the design of these things from the movies. There are a number of other plasma weapons that also take their designs from the movies, like the gatling cannon used by the infiltrator in Kyle Reese's bunker flashback.

There are two tiers of lasers in this game: Red and purple. The red lasers are much weaker, though they're all you've really got until the last phase of the game. It makes sense that purple is the color of the most potent laser since it falls on the high end of the heat and radiation spectrum.

There are a number of optional Skynet Outposts to raid. These are a lot like outposts in the Far Cry series. In this game you don't actually have to bother with any of them, but it gets you a lot of EXP and I was looking for any possible way to extend the game's runtime. Outposts ended up being fun activities to figure out. Also recommend doing every available quest, as there aren't that many of them. I skipped a few and by the end I found myself wishing I'd done all of the quests just to have spent more time with the game.

Unleashing turrets on more T-800s. It's important to stay somewhat hidden while they're hashing out their differences, as T-800s can still murder you pretty fast if they stop focusing on the turret to come after you.

Once the hospital is raided and the prisoners are freed, Skynet sends in reinforcements. An entire column of them.

Normally you'd need to hide in a nearby ambulance while they patrol and wait for them to leave. However...

...we have a turret.

More on this game soon.


  1. Not enough experience? Push the button!

    Smart of them to focus on you instead of the turret all things considered.

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