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Introduction

Excerpt from the manual:

During the latest incursions against SkyNet Central Command, a prototype of a highly advanced combat assault armor was found hidden in a subterranean vault. It has been theorized that this armor was the precusor to the fully mechanized Terminator units manufactured by SkyNet after its systems came on-line. Colonel John Connor quickly recognized that if the power of this armor could be harnessed, it might bridge the gap between Resistance personnel and SkyNet's fronline battlefield units. Connor ordered Resistance scientists to analyze the prototype and use it as the basis to develop a practical weapon for his elite strike forces. The result was the Advanced Cybernetic Exoskeleton, or 'A.C.E. Battle Armor', a military assault armor uniquely designed to destroy Terminators.

Overview

Terminator 2029 is an DOS-based action game released in 1992 by Bethesda Softworks and based on the Future War of the Terminator franchise. It casts the player as one of John Connor's elite soldiers, genetically screened and both mentally and physically conditioned as a primary candidate for the neurological implants required by the A.C.E. Battle armor to function. With this piece of advanced technology, John Connor hopes to use it to turn the tide of the war and ultimately destroy SkyNet.

The suit allowed the player to configure its equipment load out with a variety of weapons prior to the start of each mission. Weapons such as phased plasma cannons (PPCs) in the 40 watt range, fusion grenades, autodoctors for healing the flesh beneath it, shield systems, and a variety of other improvements as they became available would be part of its arsenal. Despite the action oriented direction of the game, it was not an FPS with the full range of motion that may be expected of it.

The game uses  the grid-based, 3D system wherein the world is viewed from a first-person perspective with 90° turns and movement spaces. The upper window displayed the HUD of the 'action' area where the player used the mouse to move an aiming cursor around the screen and shoot enemies within a view that represented a moving 'shooting gallery'. The top border of the screen listed the equipped weapons and items that the player could activate at any time. On the bottom of the screen, the armor's condition, a radar screen displaying contacts, and a status/message window gave the player the perspective of being inside the armor.

Eventually, after accomplishing various mission-based objectives in the game, the player is called to defeat SkyNet by traveling to the orbital platform where it is housed and destroying it. There are a total of eight missions within the game with several of them timed.

Because of the changes to the Terminator franchise in the following years and the general ambiguity as to where the games and other fiction, such as that found in comics and novels, stand overall, it is likely that the events within this game can be considered non-canon.

Gameplay

Home on the battlefield.
The flow of the game starts at the player's Quarters in Resistance HQ located in the Los Angeles region where they will first need to create a character profile complete with a name and callsign. Once the player has created their record, they can proceed from their room to various points in the Resistance base such as the training simulator or the briefing room to start the next mission. They can also view enemy unit information, save or load a game, or drop out to DOS from their Quarters.

The Mission Briefing room will fill in the player on what their next objectives are along with any news concerning upgrades to their weapons or additional story-based information. After this, the player is dropped off in the appropriate area and from there are left on their own to fight through the dangers ahead and accomplish their objectives.

Objectives are listed within the game and many of them require the player to proceed to a set of coordinates which are always displayed in the HUD viewer of the player's perspective within the armor during the mission. The player also has access to an inventory of items which are most often consumed after being used once, such as repair packs for their armor.

Depending on several factors during a mission, debriefing following its successful conclusion may reward the player with a promotion in rank which also allows the player to select from more advanced pieces of equipment, such as more powerful weapons, as they are developed during the course of the campaign. It is also possible to accidentally kill Resistance fighters during a mission which will count negatively towards a player's debriefing evaluation and repeated offenses may force them out of the service altogether.

The ranks a player may achieve within the game are:

  • Sergeant - the player starts off at this rank
  • Sergeant Major
  • 2nd Lieutenant
  • 1st Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • Major
  • Lieutenant Colonel

Colonel John Connor holds the highest military rank within the Resistance.

A.C.E. Battle Armor

The ACE armor configuration screen.
The A.C.E. Battle armor allows the player to stand toe-to-toe with the machines of SkyNet and dish out an incredible amount of damage. The Status of the player's armor is always shown in their HUD to the left of the radar. Different sections are represented along with a Health aura which shows how much damage the player's body has received after the armor has been sufficiently damaged. Damaged areas are highlighted by color; yellow for medium damage, red for heavy. Weapons or equipment on those sections of armor that receive the most damage may cease to function unless a repair pack is used or the player makes it to a repair bay.

PPCs have a heat level that must be maintained but is slowly exhausted when they are repeatedly fired. The heat levels regenerate when idle, however, but the more powerful PPCs can drain the heat needed to generate their hitting power much more quickly. The autodoc attachment will slowly heal the player, but not repair the armor, and some items such as fusion grenades are limited in use. The player will eventually gain the use of powerful PPCs in the game which usually negates the use of the grenades because of their sheer power at the cost of a higher drain on heat reserves.

Combat

Terminator in combat
Within each mission space, there are a variety of enemies that range from Terminators to flying HK Dragons and Eradicator units. All combat is handled via the HUD display within the helmet of the ACE armor. Everything is mouse driven, from targeting to interface manipulation, although there are hotkey shortcuts available for the interface that allow the setting of a primary and secondary weapon, for example.

A scan function is also available to the player allowing them to scan a target and gauge its health which is useful for knowing just how effective certain weapons are against their target or if they have no effect at all. Encounters are usually set and limited to a number of units, but the game will also randomly respawn targets within an area.

The interface radar displays everything within range and color codes each contact depending on what they are. Red dots indicate often hostile contacts, yellow dots indicate missiles, and the white dot indicates the grenade launcher targeting system which ranges out from the center green dot representing the player. The HUD also displays the current coordinates of the player along with the direction that they are facing in the lower left hand side of the action screen. The lower right of the interface is where inventory, mission objectives, scan functions, and an automap of the current region can be accessed from.

Since combat was real-time, running away and hiding in one of of the designated 'safe zones' scattered in an area would allow the player to either heal up, repair, or recharge their weapons in relative safety. Because of the limited movement that the engine placed on the player, getting shot from several different directions without knowing who was doing the shooting was often a problem that required the player to pay close attention to the radar as opposed to being able to freely look about onscreen.

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