Need I even say anything about film tie-ins? No. It’s unfortunate then that a game needs to be reviewed where many of the clichés apply. Sorry, ignore that. Not clichés, cliché. That being that film tie-ins are generally worth less than a bucket of mud.
Terminator Salvation isn’t actually set during the time of the film, instead plonking you into the action – though I use that term loosely – some two years before the events involving Screamy McBale actually take place. The events of the game, however, (though spectacularly uneventful), are enough to keep you busy for, oh, maybe three days if you’re a determined/half-competent gamer. So why should you buy this? You probably shouldn’t, but for the moment allow me a digression or three.
It’s hard for me to even remember where everything kicks off, and not because I haven’t played it, let me tell you. However, a little bit of research reminds me that my forays as John Connor, accompanied by some rather wooden NPC allies, started with some fairly Gears Of War-esque ‘find cover and shoot’ mechanic while fleeing to an evacuation site, taking down a handful of enemies, unimaginatively scattered throughout the debris that represents LA, and then fleeing to another site. In truth, I actually prefer the cover mechanic and animation here in Salvation to Gears Of War, but that isn’t to say that it doesn’t start from an ‘homage’ standpoint, before extending the idea with cute slides and creeps, and it isn’t to say I prefer anything else. Which I don’t.
Of course, it’s at the second evacuation site where the twist happens, and Connor stubbornly refuses to ‘evac’, preferring to instead head towards the heart of Skynet in an effort to reach members of the resistance who – bloody carelessly, if you ask me – managed to be ‘pinned down’ during an assault. but last the entire duration of the game, communicating through crackled radio transmissions right under Skynet’s beady red eyes and titanium-alloy nose.
Essentially, that’s the entirety of the title. There are ten, terribly short and unsatisfying, chapters (each providing an undeserving 80 gamer points) book-ended with loading screens which provide as much entertainment in the rotating of a Terminator’s head, as all the depressingly formulaic fire-fights that both precede and follow them. The dialogue is poorly delivered and sometimes wholly nonsensical and there’s not as much impending doom at all once you figure out the ‘sweet-spots’ or necessary weapons to take down…err, I count six types of enemy (including the not-so-scary ‘Skin jobs’).
Which means, as I suggested earlier, this film tie-in is as poor as many of the others, and the joy that does briefly come from taking down wave after wave of repetitious Skynet minions, is extinguished once you realise that’s all the joy you’re going to get.
The graphics aren’t bad, the plot is pretty poor and the action is quickly either mundane or irritating. There’s no online game element aside from co-operative play, and that is the cherry on a cake missing icing, and jam, and only some sponge. So, need I say anything more about Terminator: Salvation?
Terminator Salvation is available for Xbox 360 now.
More from Kevin can be found at his blog: www.kevinpocock.com