When it comes to the Terminator franchise, I’d consider myself one of the more “snobbish” fans. You know the type: the series ended with Terminator 2, with anything else being rubbish. So when Terminator: Resistance was announced alongside the Dark Fate film, I ignored it.
After Genisys, my faith in the franchise was below rock bottom. Why would one more game matter? Specifically, one that seemed to tie in with a new (and unsurprisingly bad) film. Thankfully, Resistance is not a tie-in to Dark Fate, but a prequel/parallel of sorts to the first two films. Alright, good start… maybe.
Yet what struck me the most was that it was getting an enhanced version. As far as I knew, it came and went as a middle ground game on the last generation. Does it really warrant another go with current gen additions, or is it a good starting place for those that missed it the first time? Come with me if you want to find out…
The Future’s Not Set…
When it comes to handling any movie franchise in terms of game tie-in/similar media, there’s always one crucial thing to consider. There’s a reason why Alien: Isolation is one of my top ten games of all time, whilst Colonial Marines is regarded as a hot mess. It all comes down to respecting the source material. In the above instance, the former acts as a faithful companion piece, whereas the latter is handled as terrible fan fiction.
As mentioned at the start, Terminator: Resistance thankfully isn’t a tie-in to Dark Fate, the last film. It ignores it, instead focusing on the first film’s setting and Judgement Day’s closure. That’s it. A self-contained universe with a headache-inducing amount of time travel. Seriously, it’s up there with Primer and Looper if you think about. But don’t think about it too hard, it’s a doozy to get your head around.
Luckily, someone at Treyon sees that and has written a very faithful story in here, one that ties in with the first two films. No retcons, no “Judgement Day was delayed by ten years”, none of this “Skynet evolved from a smartphone app” nonsense that Genysis farted about it with. Just causality, consequence and a healthy dose of the nature of time travel and paradoxes. Lovely stuff.
Cyborgs Don’t Feel Pain, I Do
The hero of the story this time around isn’t a Connor, but one Private Jacob Rivers. The sole survivor of an ambushed unit near Pasadena, California, Rivers encounters a bunch of scavengers not long after the game starts. After aiding them, the resistance finally gets in contact with him after a few missions. Lead by the badass Baron, events transpire that are more than just the survival of a bunker full of soldiers and refugees.
Skynet are up to something, something bigger than the usual line of Terminators and drones that it’s already taken over most of the world with. The AI has a “hitlist” with a few names on it. One of those being John Connor, the predestined hero, with one of the others being Rivers. Both Connor and Baron see being on Skynet’s shit-list as a badge of honour, seeing Rivers both promoted to sergeant and often used as bait to find out why he’s marked.
Turns out, there’s a new type of Terminator in production. One of metal exoskeleton, covered with living tissue and capable of infiltrating human camps to turn them inside out. That’s right, Terminator: Resistance doesn’t do anything garish with the story. No new types of nanomachine Terminator or anything extravagant and “more in line with today’s expectation of movies”. Just the old familiar, grinning skeleton T-800 range we know and love (and a few enemy types we’ll look at).
Pursued by one of these Infiltrator units, Rivers is sent on various missions to gain intel on what Skynet is up to. Along the way, he’s aided by a mysterious Stranger who seems to know Rivers and what is going to happen, often with eerily precise timings…
It wouldn’t be fair to completely spoil the story, but fair to say there’s a decent one here. One that ties in to the events of the first two films without adding any more headaches or complications. No old-ass Terminators taking human names and getting regular jobs here.
I Have To Stay Functional Too. I’m “Too Important”
As you may have gathered from the screenshots, Terminator: Resistance is a first person shooter. But far be it to ape modern, more cover-based shooters, Resistance is old school. In fact, it plays very similar to its namesake, that of Insomniac’s Resistance series.
Rivers can carry as many weapons as he likes (but can only assign four at a time), heal with medkits and tank quite a fair few shots. You can hide behind objects, sure, but if you want to shoot back you have to stick your neck out. There’s no leaning, no dedicated cover mechanic. This is reminiscent of older games, both good and bad (we’ll get onto the bad later) that has been lacking in modern times.
Yet Resistance isn’t completely without modern trappings. There’s a crafting and level/skill system, as well as pseudo-open world maps, because corridor shooting and relying on instant-use items is too far back, it seems. However, the game isn’t fully dependant on it and if you know what you’re doing, you may not even need to rely on crafting much.
Weapons start off simple enough, with trusty shotguns, assault rifles and pistols being able to dispatch most smaller drones easily enough. These don’t work on T-800’s and upwards, though, so the nature of the game play sections around them early on is stealth. They can, and will, instantly kill you if they grab you. As the game progresses, you do get to level the field with plasma rifles and such, but that’s a few missions in.
It Doesn’t Feel Pity, Or Remorse, Or Fear
In fact, it’s actually quite a testament to the franchise that you can’t just wipe out these mechanical menaces in droves. Well, at least not right from the off. For too long we’ve had games that see players offing these like they’re made of aluminium, rather than be a near-indestructible foe.
Which brings me to Terminator: Resistance’s stealth modes. That’s right, plural: a passive and a narrative kind of stealth are both present. The passive is in the main gameplay, meaning that you can attempt to sneak past most confrontations if you’re feeling sly enough. However, this doesn’t always work, as there’s always one crafty little shit that always sees you. Fortunately, gunfights are quite snappy and responsive enough to balance out when it goes wrong.
The other type, the narrative, is as it sounds. There are some points when you must sneak, lest you suffer the same fate as the screenshot above. This caught me by surprise, as I thought I could just cheese it away from them like I could most enemies. However, this instead instilled that reminder that these are Terminators, not the drones or the Tremors-like Silverfish cannon fodder along the way.
Later on this becomes somewhat redundant, as phased plasma rifles will drop most Terminators. But to start with, it really heightens how badly the humans are losing in the Future War.
I’m Old, Not Obsolete
In regards to the feel of the Terminator universe, Resistance nails it with the audio. The score is reminiscent, if not near identical, to Brad Fiedel’s score. The low horns, the sharp highs when under pursuit. Tense stings punctuated with the sound of plasma fires that takes you to those flash-forwards(?) that Reese has of the war. Everything that I love about the synth-heavy soundtracks to the movies is here.
It’s just a shame that the same can’t be said about game itself. Graphically, it’s okay, even with the enhancements to the current gen editions. Terminators look shiny and imposing, whilst the myriads of other generic enemies look bog standard.
The comparison I made to the other Resistance game here is two-fold: this game looks like a PS3 game. A spit-and-polished one, but a seventh generation game nonetheless. What aides this is the somewhat clunky (I nearly said “robotic” unironically) movement of both man and machine.
As I said earlier, it’s a fully functional FPS. Yet seen as a double-edged sword, it’s just a functional FPS. No bells and whistles, nothing that will make you go, “Wow, this is a top tier PS4/PS5 [or equivalent] game!”. That sounds like damning with faint praise, and in a way it is. I would just rather you knew what you were getting into, instead of being hoodwinked by a game that looks good.
However, there are many things that make up for the gameplay shortcomings in Terminator: Resistance.
Nice Night For a Walk, Eh?
Another part of what makes something great is not just the respect it pays to its source, but the throwbacks to it. Thankfully, Terminator: Resistance has them in buckets. That poor chap above is being tortured by Skynet as you enter the building, and is dead by the time you reach him. But… doesn’t he look familiar?
Early on, you find a pup to give you to young Patrick. Now, besides dogs being integral to spotting Infiltrators, there’s another sly Easter egg: you get to choose the name. Your options are Max and Wolfie, and if you know… you know. Another that got me was when you had to find a radio for one of the survivors. Following the signal, you hear it playing some music.
Now, you might think it would play You Could Be Mine by Guns N’ Roses but that’d be too easy. Instead, it’s actually playing Tahnee Cain and Tryanglz’s Burnin’ In The Third Degree. That name may not sound familiar, but fans of the first film will recognise it. For the rest of you, it’s the music playing in Tech Noir when Reese, Arnie and Sarah are finally together. My face lit up at that, as that is how you do an Easter egg.
The start of the Infiltrator mode sees a resistance soldier booting a dead drone, shouting, “Nice night for a walk, eh?” at it. Yes, it’s more obvious but doesn’t make it any less cool. This, like Alien: Isolation is how you pay tribute. You don’t do a Duke Nukem Forever and just shove references in our faces.
You’ve Been Targeted For Termination
Besides the aforementioned graphical improvements, Terminator: Resistance Enhanced does have another ace up its sleeve. Namely, Infiltrator Mode. Not another shoehorned multiplayer, but a fun little single player mode.
Fun because you get to play as, surprisingly enough, an Infiltrator. Already battle damaged, you don’t actually get to sneak into a human base as a passable human. Instead, players have a one-run, no savepoint mission to execute Ramirez; a resistance officer.
Switching out Rivers’ electromagnetic goggles for classic, red-screened Terminator vision, your mission is to hunt. Sadly, you still take damage as comparable as your story mode counterpart, which is slightly annoying. But then, it’s a free mode that lets you have a little bit of fun. The mission statement says players should allow forty five minutes, depending on difficulty. There’s a score counter, multiplied depending on difficulty, as well as paper trails to pick up on the way.
It’s free, it’s fun, and one could see it as a little inclusive “Thank you” from Treyon for supporting this edition. Can’t really grumble at that.
At Its Core
The bottom line, from me at least, is that Terminator: Resistance Enhanced is surprisingly a very good game. Now, there are a couple of caveats to that. Namely, the crafting, side-quests and oft-awkward dialogue interactions. These just feel like an indictment of modern times getting in there.
Do I need to be a certain level to fire certain guns? Apparently I do, hence where the side-quest grind comes in from time to time. Is there any real point in exploring the rubble for someone else’s backstory for the eleventh time? Well, I guess there is if you really give a monkey’s about every facet of your crew. Were not one but two optional sex scenes really needed? Perhaps because the first film had one, it made sense somewhere down the line.
The game itself isn’t entirely without fault technically, either. Occasionally the sound drops out, in particular one area of the map almost had an “isolation bubble” effect where no sound could be heard at all. Yet it had a very clear “border” that I could step in and out of. On other occasions, I sometimes hit errors when restarting checkpoints that crashed the game. Thankfully, due to the PS5’s insanely quick loading times, I was back in an instant.
But minor mishaps and outdated gameplay are vastly outweighed by the effort gone into this love letter/companion piece. The Easter eggs I’ve mentioned above are only a few, and that’s outside of the main story. The somewhat lacklustre shooting sections are worth putting up with to see the story out. Sure, you may figure out parts of it early on, but as a story to run alongside the films (without confusing it), it’s worth a dabble if you’re a fan.
It brings nothing new in terms of gameplay, but Terminator: Resistance Enhanced has other tricks up its sleeve. Namely a decent story and some of the best use of license to a movie franchise in a long time. If you haven’t played the previous gen version, there’s no better jumping point than here.
Terminator: Resistance Enhanced is available now on PS5 (review platform) and Xbox One Series S/X. The regular version is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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