Developed by the now-defunct Swedish studio, GRIN, Terminator Salvation puts you in the role of John Connor in Los Angeles, 2016, when he is an average soldier for the human Resistance. Like most modern third-person shooters, it draws heavily on precedents set by Gears of War, with an over-the-shoulder camera, radio conversations during which player speed is reduced, and plenty of chest-high pieces of cover. The roles of major characters from the movie are played and voiced over by their respective actors with the exception of John Connor, for whom Christian Bale refused to lend his likeness or voice to.
Salvation's general gameplay is incredibly simplistic, usually requiring the player to bound from cover-to-cover so that they can position themselves behind the enemy. The bulk of the game is played as a traditional third-person shooter interspersed with gunning sequences, during which Connor controls the weapons on a moving vehicle, from truck mounted machine guns and grenade launchers to the Gatling guns and rocket launchers on the tank. The player is not given control over the movement of the vehicles.
Player arsenal is rather limited, consisting of unnamed, generic weapons types. It consists of an assault rifle, a shotgun, a light machine gun, a rocket launcher, a grenade launcher, fragmentation grenades and pipebombs. The AI is surprisingly proficient and wary.
Player allies will draw the attention of the enemies so Connor can flank them and target weak spots on the machines. Most of the enemies only attempt to suppress the player and their allies, however one particular type, the T-600, will also maneuver in ways to flank the player and push on weak points in their defenses.
Picking up after what appears to be a failed attack by the humans, the Resistance is on retreat. The first few levels of the game chronicle Connor's journey to the extraction site. Upon reaching it, the Resistance receives a radio transmission from David Weston, a member of the Resistance whose team is stranded in Skynet territory. Connor and his team are required to fend off waves of machines in order to secure a landing zone for the choppers meant to extract them.
Upon their arrival, the commanding officer refuses to go back for the stranded members and insists that Connor get on the chopper and follow orders. Connor and his companion throughout the game, Blair Williams, stay behind in order to rescue them. Before the choppers can escape safely, a machine known as a Harvester attacks and destroys them.
After narrowly escaping, the two are hailed by a team on a rescue helicopter that was downed. Connor and Williams move quickly to save them. After fending off machines at the downed chopper, the three surviving members of the rescue team, Dobkin, Deckard and Angie, join Connor and Williams as they journey to an old Resistance outpost to resupply. Upon reaching the outpost, the team is ambushed by a group of T-600's, resulting in the deaths of Deckard and Dobkin. Angie, Blair and Connor survive and push on together to rescue Weston's team.
Continuing their journey, they head into the underground subway tunnels of L.A. and stumble upon a group of Survivalists, humans who are not a part of the Resistance, surviving on their own by hiding underground and fighting defensively. Connor is greeted by the leader, Warren, wielding a knife, demanding that he cut himself to prove he is human and not a disguised machine. After it's confirmed that Connor is human, the Survivalists agree to supplying them as they continue their trek to Weston. Not long after, machines attack, following the trail of Connor and Williams to the underground base. The two return to the entrance to hold off the machines while the Survivalists prepare to run with Barnes, a Survivalist who has rigged explosives up there. After successfully holding the entrance and setting off the explosives, the group returns to defend the others as they disembark.
After coming to a stop, Connor tries to get in contact with Weston, only to find that Skynet is jamming the signal. Warren points out the Skynet radio tower responsible and mocks Connor's cavalier attitude towards destroying it. He leaves to guide the other Survivalists to safety while Barnes joins the crew on their mission. They successfully assault and destroy the radio tower, losing Angie in the process, who sacrifices her own life for theirs.
Upon resurfacing, the remaining members of the team are greeted by the Survivalists who saw the tower go down. Warren pledges the support of the Survivalists to Connor. Still needing to push into Skynet territory, Connor calls in for Resistance air support. They inform him that AA turrets in the area prevent them from coming in safely. In response, he rewires an enemy tank for his own use, taking out a majority of the anti-aircraft. Connor and his men are forced to take the remaining ones offline on foot. As they assault the machine base, they are able to rescue Weston and his men. The injured are taken back to the Survivalist vehicles for extraction by the Resistance while Weston joins the team and helps push to the control room. Connor and crew take the turrets offline and set off an EMP, disabling ground resistance and giving them enough time to escape.
The Resistance moves quickly, nuking Skynet and extracting Connor and his team, including the newly recruited Survivalists. The game closes with Connor reflecting on what has occurred and discussing his newfound faith in the future.
The list of enemies is short, most seen within the first hour or two of gameplay.
Nicknamed "Spiders" by characters in game, these are one of the most common enemies encountered. They have a weak spot located on the back, behind forward armour plating.
Nicknamed "Wasps" by characters in game, these are one of the most common enemies encountered. While not having one particular weak spot, they are all around lightly armoured, and can easily be destroyed by a single shotgun round.
Nicknamed "HK" by characters in game. The player only encounters this enemy twice throughout the game where they pose a threat. Heavily armed and unable to be harmed by small arms fire.
There are two types of T-600s, nicknamed "Endos" and "Skinjobs". Endos are the sort pictured on the cover of the game, armed with a Gatling gun and having an exposed metal skeleton. They have a weak point located on their chest. Skinjobs are armed the same way but covered with rubber skin and tattered clothing. They have no designated weak point.
There is another enemy that goes unnamed, given neither an official Skynet designation or a nickname, found only when the player is defending the fleeing Survivalists. It is a motorcycle that has no rider and is completely self-driven, armed with dual mounted machine guns.
PC Release Problems and Recall
Upon release, users quickly discovered an issue with the PC versions of the game. Consumers who had purchased physical copies of the game found themselves unable to install it due to a defect with the physical disc, later attributed to an issue with the replication process. There was a recall in North America on defective discs, which were quickly replaced with functional versions of the game. Digital copies of the game and console versions were unaffected.