Giant Bomb Review

41 Comments

Terminator Salvation Review

3
  • X360

It's not a poorly made game, but Terminator Salvation is too simple and too fleeting to recommend.

These little flying machines aren't hard to kill, but they can be annoying in numbers.
Everyone's favorite genocidal cyborgs return with Terminator Salvation, a game from Bionic Commando developer GRIN that seems to take as much, if not more, inspiration from Gears of War as it does the film upon which it's based. There's a very narrow focus on cover-based action here, and while it's got some decent energy to it, the whole thing feels very barebones.

That barebones feel starts with the story, which is, well, kind of nonexistent. It's more about basic motivation than character development or specific plotting. You play as John Connor--who, here, looks a bit like a poor-man's Commander Shepard--and while you're ostensibly on a mission to save a guy named David from something Skynet related, it all boils down to constantly running towards or away from murderous machines.

Terminator Salvation is a product of our post-Gears of War world, and it strips that cover-based third-person shooter formula down to its basest elements. The game is, essentially, a series of brief firefights against small packs of those murderous machines. The places that the firefights take place in always seem highly contrived, with bits of cover conveniently scattered, usually in some sort of semicircle configuration, around the area where your enemies will eventually stroll in, hunker down, and start firing away at you.

It would seem that, at this point in the Terminator mythology, Skynet hasn't diversified production much, as you'll encounter a whopping six different types of enemies over the course of the game. Probably the most interesting of the bunch are the spidery T-7-Ts, which are too heavily armored for you to take head-on. This requires you to rely on your constant AI companions to distract them as you sneak around by hopping from one piece of cover to the next and blast away at their tender and exposed backsides. It's the most tactical thing you'll do in the game, but the game is generous to a fault with the tactical advantages. There's always ample ammo, you're regularly given the higher ground over your enemies, and the machines very rarely stray outside of their designated attack areas.

These rubber-skinned T600s are as close to Arnold as the game gets.
There's something actually enjoyable to the constant-cover philosophy at work here. Part of it comes from the fact that John Connor looks pretty awesome sliding and rolling from one piece of cover to the next. They're much more dynamic-looking than most of his animations, which look kind of pinched. His run animation specifically makes him look like he's constantly looking for the bathroom. There's also a semi-circular on-screen guide that shows up when you're behind cover, which makes the process of moving from one piece of cover to another feel very intuitive. For as derivative as most of the action in Terminator Salvation is, this little trick struck me as something that other Gears of War-style games could benefit from.

The individual firefights can be fun, but the game never lets itself build up any momentum. Almost every enemy encounter takes place in a small, contained area, and they're usually bookended by a short cutscene. There are numerous sequences where you'll literally walk from one cutscene to another, without any action in between. The game mixes things up with the occasional on-rails sequence--you'll man a turret in the backs of trucks, subway trains, and dune buggies--but these are even simpler and more straightforward than the rest of the game.

In addition to not offering a terrific amount of variety, Terminator Salvation is a short experience, too. Playing on the normal difficulty, it took me a little under five hours to see the credits roll. There's no real reason to revisit the game once you're done, either. There's a split-screen coop mode, but no online option, and both the PS3 trophies and the Xbox 360 achievements are based entirely on clearing the individual chapters. If you play it on the hard difficulty, you can get everything in a single play-through.

Terminator Salvation ultimately just feels too small for a $60 game. Even the environments, which consist mostly of war-torn streets and boxy, brownish interiors, give you little sense that there's a world outside of the path that you're on. It's not a bad experience, but what it offers is so simple that it would feel repetitive if it were any longer. As it is, it doesn't do enough to justify a purchase.
41 Comments
Posted by wrecks

Good review. Rental it is then.  thankya sir.

Posted by WilliamRLBaker

much like the movie the game doesn't seem to be worth a damn.

Posted by SenatorSpacer

Looks like a rental.

Posted by zityz

Wow Ryan, you gave it 3 stars... Very generous of you. I didn't even think it was worth that. The fact you fought the same shit in each lvl, no end boss, no online options, no multiplayer options, and poor character models. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. But easy ass 1000 Achievment points though.

Posted by HydraHam

2/5 would of been more then generous.. were you paid to give this a 3? i kid i kid.. rented it and beat it in about 3 and a half hours then returned it.

Posted by Bigandtasty

I was expecting a 2 especially given that this was similar to Wanted. Maybe if I get gamefly I will give it a look to burn a few hours on generic shooting.

Posted by Kraznor

3 seems generous. I really didn't enjoy what I played of this game.

Posted by RedHerb

It kind of annoys me that they expect or want people to pay full price for a game that's apparently this short. Maybe if they were more up front about it and said "Hey, it's short but it's only $50 AU" (probably $30 US). But now the word is out!  It's going to be a hell rented and i can see people bring it back to EB games or where ever pretty quick. I hate business and its lack of ethics!

Posted by AutomaticSnake

ummmm... how does a crappy game that takes less then 4 hours to beat get 3 stars?

Posted by SenorDingDong

Uh-oh, now who will supply the salty candy?

Nah, just kidding.  Good review.

Posted by BranDong

Wondering how this game got 3 stars

Posted by EpicSteve

Have we hit that point that we don't need to reference Gears of War in reviews? I think these cover-focused mechanics have become standard in third-person shooters.

Posted by BR4DL3I9H

I am very surprised that it managed to get 3 stars. Epic steve, although i do agree that there comes a point where we really don't need to reference gears for a lot of 3rd person cover elements, but at the same time, people still reference mario when talking about platformers because it revolutionised the platformer, the same way that Gears managed to make the cover system into a really streamlined and easy to use system. At the end of the day, i honestly think that as long as games use cover system then Gears will always be metioned, and rightly so.

Posted by Metal_Mills

3 stars seems generous. The game is pathetic for full price.

Posted by JerichoBlyth

I was hoping that this would have at least been a good rental game to bolt through on co-op but alas, consider that idea - terminated.

...because you told me to.

Posted by DPG

yeaah.....this game is not worth 3 stars.....one of the first giant bomb reviews i disagree with, very short, uninteresting, generic, and lazily made game, 1 or 2 stars sounds more accurate to me

Posted by MeatSim

No surprises here I see.

Posted by DPG

also i forgot to mention that the load time seem to cross the thin line from acceptable to frustrating, not sure if this was just me

Posted by brocool

Split - Screen Co-op Means a BUY FOR ME!

Posted by belowradar

This is my exact reasoning behind that certain games are getting too overpriced for what they offer.  Fallout offers hundreds of hours for $60 while this polished turd gives you four hours for $60.  Imagine how many lapdances you could have gotten for $60.  It would've given you more satisfaction taboot. 
Gamers and journalists need to stand up and cry foul at developers putting out this type of garbage for $60 and consumers buying it up just cause it has a big name on it.  Haven't we all learned that games associated with movies are pretty much garbage.
How about you give me the $60 you would spend on the game and I'd buy Infamous.  Sounds like a good idea to me.

Posted by Gigaman

I want some of those grenades your grandma makes.

Edited by mordukai

I love this web site. Awesome ICO reference Jeff.

Posted by Druminator

Wow, as much as I want to at least try it, it doesn't even seem worth a rent...

Posted by RHCPfan24

Looks sort of crappy, but I will give this a rent just for the achievements.

Posted by Kohe321

Good review! Looks allrightish, doubt I'll be getting it...

Posted by HatKing

Well I'm playing through Wanted right now...so I don't know if I'd be able to handle this back to back...maybe for the achievements.

Posted by HellBound

Wow, you give this garbage 3 stars, yet a way better game (compared to this) called Velvet Assassin gets 1? I realize opinions and all that jazz, but what the fuck man.

Posted by slint

I'm so floored by a 3 for this.  I've watched the QL, other reviews, other threads... and you gave it a 3?  Unreal.

Posted by HydraHam
AutomaticSnake said:
ummmm... how does a crappy game that takes less then 4 hours to beat get 3 stars?
Well wanted took me about 4 hours to beat and i would easily give it 3 stars, i just beat it and im about to go through it again.. but this game is just awful on every level.. im very very surprised he gave it a 3
Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

We should probably have a Shortest Game of the Year Award created specifically for shit games like this & the awarded to them.

Posted by 70sStylePimp

Despite the obvious failings of Grin's Wanted game I quite enjoyed it.

Going to pick this up as it seems more of the same, plus it is a dead easy Plat trophy too.

Edited by SynAzrael
HellBound said:
Wow, you give this garbage 3 stars, yet a way better game (compared to this) called Velvet Assassin gets 1? ... [more]
Note that two different people wrote those respective reviews.  And in that context, opinions mean a lot.

Though, concerning the game at hand, I really can't help but wonder who it is who buys games like this at $60.  I mean, even if you don't know that the game is going to be absurdly short, there really isn't enough substance in its source material to allow it to be otherwise.
Posted by ReTarDedFisHy

The cover system looks pretty neat.
Everything else though...

Posted by Demo

20 minute video review, kind of!

This looks more fun than Gears Of War, burn me.

Posted by Y2Ken

I'm guessing this game will do well as a rental, not only because it is a movie tie-in but also because it has 11 gold trophies - and they're usually quite hard to come by. Not incredibly happy about the potential of this to devalue gold trophies as a concept though.

Posted by TemplePilot

This game is pure ass and I have no idea where the other two stars came from.

Posted by MikeinSC

It took me 2.5 hours on hard. The game barely edged out the movie for length. Perhaps it is better it be short than super-long, but still, it's exceptionally difficult to even remotely recommend this for a buy.

Posted by Media_Master

Not for $60

Posted by TOXICSHLOCK

My opinion of this one mimic the disappointing sense of conflicted betrayal i felt after watching the movie. Yes its got terminators, which are typically high on the bad assery scale...but are they really doing anything edgy, threatning, dangerous or otherwise what a killer cyborg should be fully capable of, and should be damn well doing in a movie and game.  This wasnt complete crap, just a half assed unpolished one that was rank of the "make it seem like gears without putting much time into it and release it with theme (X)" thats a repeating trend recently.

Posted by Daryl

I'm all for co-op games so I'll probably pick this up when it's a fiver. Shame this seems to barely follow the film at all, when did those two chicks show up? I wanna play as the midget brown girl that says nothing. :(

Posted by Vod_Crack

Ryan's review for this game is extremely generous.