Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Terminator: Dark Fate (iOS/Android, 2019)

When I heard that Terminator: Dark Fate has a "crappy mobile game" it didn't take long for me to book it over to the nearest phone and give it a shot. Wait, crappy? What do you m-

 We start with a pretty good intro FMV showing some of the New Future War. Considering how little of this we saw in the movie, it's cool to see more of it. The Legion machines have interesting, insect-like designs that are pretty unsettling to look at. The problem with this, like the problem with the movie, is that it doesn't really feel like Terminator. This could be The Edge of Tomorrow or something like that and it'd be more believable than "this is Terminator"

 Some first-person blasting of a REV-8 (or maybe REV-7, who knows). Can't tell if they're using laser weapons or not. Too bad this is a cutscene and not a gameplay screenshot.

 More of them appear and it looks like this battle might be a lost cause. We know so little about Legion and what these new machines are like, and it looks like that'll be the case permanently since Dark Fate isn't getting any sequels. Oh well. Erasing the Skynet canon was a pretty dumb move regardless, but I like that the Legion machines at least have some new designs.

 Wait what? What's Sarah doing here? Isn't this the future? And nope, I totally forgot about the reason why the world ended when I fell down and hit my head. Thanks for the exposition.

 The game itself begins, and it's... a tower-defense game that pretty much takes place on the same couple of roads for every battle. You don't command resistance soldiers, either, you just set up turrets.

 Here are the four turret types. You have to wait for resources to regenerate before you can plant new turrets, so it's really just a matter of planting them as often as you can and hoping you regen enough to put down new ones if necessary. Though the game is super-easy so it's never particularly a race against time, at least in the hour or so that I played it. As for the four turrets, you've got:

Minigun - Doesn't do a ton of damage, and only hits one foe at a time, but it's inexpensive to produce

Rocket-launcher - Fires AOE attacks that can hit a bunch of enemies at once, which is ideal since the enemies usually clump up

Electrical (EMP?) tower - Not sure what this does, put a few of them up and couldn't really see a difference

Plasma cannon - Takes a lot of resources, but does a lot of damage. Only hits one enemy at a time.

 Wait, what? Carl's here too? And he's on the side of Legion? Why? How? Where?


 After I set up turrets, the enemies a very orderly way, marching down the road right through the crossfire. Well, strategy isn't their strong point. You've got clumps of smaller machines that can generally be taken out by rocket launchers pretty effectively, and then you've got the occasional larger machines that no-sell the rocket launchers and can get past the initial wave of turrets. You don't want any of them getting through to your base, so it's good to have a plasma cannon or two behind the rocket launchers to take out any big solo enemies strong enough to survive the rockets.

 Win the fight, and Carl retreats, never to be seen again. What? Who??

 Here's Grace, augmented resistance soldier from the movie and general badass. At least we know why she's here, unlike Sarah and Carl. She's immediately skeptical of our character. Have they even vetted me via dogs yet or what?

 Dani is like "NAW IT'S FINE" because she has a good feeling about it. The new person could be a terminator, but don't worry guys! Dani has a hunch! is she the leader of the resistance again? 

It's true that if the MC were a terminator, she'd be pretty dead right now, so I guess that's proof enough?

 The next phase of the game has you building up your base. It's your typical RTS type gameplay, with resource management and so forth. This part of the game actually has some potential to be fun, except that they time-gate everything to extreme degrees. For instance, buildings that take 6 hours (real time) to build, but you can build them instantly for a very small fee.

For the first 20 minutes or so the game waives all fees so you can just insta-build things, and it was actually fun for that time. Once that wears off...well, some things only take a few minutes to build, which is normal for a game of this nature, but anything of great importance is like "come back later in the day" and stuff. I imagine this game might be good for someone to play during brief breaks at work...maybe.

 I get back to the fighting. These seem to happen randomly every once in a while. Get used to fighting on the same road over and over again, and the gameplay doesn't seem to evolve past "set up turrets, watch turrets mow down legions (heh) of dumb machines that all walk straight down the road"

 You also get a "hero character" that can be sicced on foes. You've got the villain of the movie, REV-9 (wait, he's bad, why is he a playable hero?)

 Grace is probably the best of the hero characters...and the only one that actually makes sense in the canon.

 The third and final choice is...Carl? So he's not bad? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

I wonder how much more well-liked Carl (and the movie) would have been if Carl was actually Uncle Bob from T2 (i.e. if he hadn't had to go into the lava at the end). Since this character is the logical extension of Uncle Bob (a machine that kept learning and understood the value of life). 

Carl: "Unfortunately, Uncle Bob... is something I can never be."

 Now we suffer whiplash as I go from feels to Give Us Money. Getting $78 worth of microtransactions for $3 the first time you buy is actually a pretty great deal, because they give you a LOT of materials and items and so forth. What this inadvertently does, though, is highlight how ridiculously expensive the game will be if you get into it. Oops.

Just say no to the $3 gateway microtransactions.

 There are some pretty sweet battle pictures on these various menu screens. Those pictures look like a much better game. Regardless, I focused on meeting target milestones by building the structures it wanted me to and so forth. The game basically plays itself, since it's constantly telling you what to do.

 Sarah J. Connor pops up every so often to tell you more supplies are on the way after you finish meeting construction goals. And that's pretty much the game. Build stuff, wait for construction to finish, get resources from structures, occasionally get attacked and watch turrets completely grind up Legion with no input from you.

 Here's my base, which lurks out in the badlands. By now you might have noticed the character portrait in the top left. Apparently your character is Summer Glau if she were a Borg. I'm alright with this.

 Nearby I found a ton of other bases, which I think belong to other players. It's kinda cool that they have a hub area like this with everyone's bases. I mean, this game has potential as a semi-MMO on phones. The microtransactions are what kinda kill it, as happens way too often in this genre.

 There are tons of skills to level up, as well. I'm sure there's a lot more to this game than I'm giving it credit for, if one gets into it. Maybe. I don't know, because I can't really proceed any further without dropping money on resources to meet the latest goal (or waiting six hours).

 I get into another battle just to have some sort of action. This fights are like D-Day if the Allies all marched up the beach in a straight line.

There are all kinds of ways to give this game more money. It's like a PBS pledge drive. Donate $9.99 and get more rewards over time, plus a Dark Fate mug.

It's all about moychan-dizin. Dark Fate the mobile game! Dark Fate the coloring book!

Well...there it is. The game has potential. Too bad this, like the movie, is overshadowed by its own bad ideas. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

1 comment:

  1. Well, at the very least I can't imagine this was very successful either.