Terminator Salvation

Movie tie-ins are notorious for offering very little in the way of appealing gameplay but given that X-Men Origins: Wolverine proved a hugely fun and engaging experience, this reviewer had high hopes for Terminator Salvation

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Terminator Salvation
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  August 17, 2009

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Key Specs

Number of players: 1 to 2
Price: $76

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Games that are movie tie-ins are notorious for offering very little in the way of appealing gameplay but given that X-Men Origins: Wolverine (also reviewed on ITP.net) proved a hugely fun and engaging experience, this reviewer had high hopes for Terminator Salvation. Unfortunately, after about an hour of gameplay it quickly became obvious that this game had more in common with other, duller movie tie-ins than with X-Men Origins.

The game is set after Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and two years before Terminator Salvation and follows John Connor and his exploits against the forces of Skynet. That said, the John Connor in the game shares only the name with the movie’s John Connor because actor Christian Bale refused to lend his voice and likeness to the game. As a result, the game’s Connor is modeled on an unknown person and voiced by Gideon Emery. However, Moon Bloodgood and ‘Common’ who play as Blair Williams and Barnes in the movie do lend their likeness and voices.

Playing as John Connor you and your fellow soldiers embark on a high-risk, low-reward mission (rescuing a small group of soldiers from inside Skynet territory) and this one mission is essentially what makes up the full game. The game does a good job of building John’s character via in-game chatter and animation, as he’s shown to highly value every human life and oppose his superiors when ordered to abandon his mission to save fellow soldiers. The game, like the movie, ultimately chronicles Connor’s rise from a field grunt to leader of the resistance.

Like the Gears of War series Salvation employs a cover system, which works quite well. The controls and execution work really well together, so you can dodge between cover without getting frustrated or being pumped full of bullet. The issue here is that the cover system actually makes it almost too easy to defeat your enemies and this is largely because of some pretty poor artificial intelligence. In most cases the enemy seems to follow a set path within a perimeter and will ultimately give you ample opportunity to take it down. There’s no real challenge then because unless you outright expose yourself, there’s little chance you’ll take damage or be killed.

As far as enemies are concerned you’ll spend the majority of your time taking out three major enemy types. Occasionally, you’ll come across a different baddie such as a Hunter-Killer but in most cases you’ll just have to deal with the minor annoyance of taking out a flying-drone, a T-600 or a quadruped robot. Taking these enemies out mostly involves you ducking behind cover, waiting for the enemy to expose a weak point and then drilling them to death with the right weapon. Now while you aren’t limited to killing enemies with a specific weapon it’ll ultimately be in your best interest to do so; while you can take out a T-600 by emptying clip upon clip of gun ammo into its chest, you’ll be able to take it down with just one or two grenades or rockets.

From time-to-time the game switches from third person, foot-based action to rail sequences where you ride a vehicle of sorts and have to defend it. These change the pace of the gameplay but don’t really pose much of a challenge. All-in-all, we were able to complete the campaign in less than five hours, which is a bit disappointing given this title commands a full console-game price tag.

As far as multiplayer support is concerned Terminator Salvation is fairly basic and only offers a split-screen cooperative mode. This allows you to play through the single player campaign with a friend but this won’t give the game much replay value because the single-player campaign is so short.

On the presentation front Salvation doesn’t score too well. Though the levels set in the post-apocalyptic Los Angeles are quite diverse, the visuals themselves don’t give you too much to write home about. The games’ character models are quite basic in terms of look and animation and, in the in-game animation sequences, the voices provided by the voice actors don’t quite lip sync with the game characters’ mouths. The game’s sound effects are quite decent when it comes to combat and ambient noise but in terms of music, there’s very little to urge you on.


We had high hopes for Terminator Salvation but ultimately its repetitive, unchallenging gameplay and dull story turn it into a sleeper that isn't really worth your while. Ultimately, your money will be better spent elsewhere.

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