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Terminator Resistance Complete Edition

27 October, 2023 - 10:00 am by
About 10 mins to read
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X|S

August 29 1997, also known as Judgement Day, is a day that will go down in history. It was when the artificial intelligence called Skynet activated and changed the world. Shortly after coming online, Skynet took over the running of all of the military defences in the United States, eliminating the need for humans. As we had become a redundant part of the programming, the machines sought to destroy us and launched nuclear bombs. As the enemies of the USA retaliated, so began the eradication of the human race. In the years that followed, the remaining people banded together to form a counter-offensive but Skynet was waiting, creating their own soldiers, the Terminators; skeletal machines that are brutally efficient at taking down their targets. The following is an account of what happened during the Future Wars, when one lone soldier decided to rise up against the machines and bring the fight to the machines in a place formerly known as Pasadena, California. This archive is known as Terminator Resistance.

At A Glance

Terminator Resistance: Complete Edition
Positives  + Stealthy and terrifying start
+ Depth of characters and story
+ Great additional content
Negatives  – Descends quickly into mindless shooter
– Bland, Xbox 360-esque visuals
– Dumb AI (ironically)
Played OnXbox Series X|S
Also Available OnPC, PS5
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Originally released in 2019 for the PS4 and Xbox One, Terminator Resistance was developed by Teyon, whose only other game was another 1980s movie franchise, Rambo. Terminator Resistance is set during the “Future Wars” of 2030,  where the machines are close to stamping out humans once and for all. From a continuity point of view, Resistance expands on the first two films in the franchise and ignores everything else – a piece of advice I’d give to anyone, frankly. In the first-person shooter, we take the body of Private Jacob Rivers, a member of the human resistance who has been marked for termination by the menacing Skynet. Being bestowed such an accolade, Rivers has to work with the Resistance to launch a counter-offensive before the machines finish the job they started thirty years prior.

I started my journey through the ruined streets of Pasadena, California, a place that has been devastated by the War. Being placed in the shoes of someone who wasn’t John Connor or Kyle Reese felt refreshing. While they certainly exist in Terminator Resistance, being relegated to passing characters allowed Teyon to focus on something more grounded. The first few levels of the dystopian future are some of the most tense scenes I’ve played in a video game for a while. The T-800s, in their pure skeletal forms, are introduced almost immediately, patrolling the area and hunting down any human they spot. At this point Rivers has no way of confronting them; his weaponry is ineffective and his skill levels simply aren’t high enough. There are smaller robots which can be dispatched with a basic pistol, but weapons are ineffective against the big boys and if I was spotted, I was hunted down until there was nothing left. 

The early levels induced a heart-pounding experience as I had to plan my way through a large map, scoping out cover and making sure I wasn’t spotted. This was very reminiscent of Alien Isolation, where you are constantly hunted and looking to survive, rather than win. It came to a head early in the game when I visited the same hospital where Sarah Connor was held in Terminator 2. It was crawling with those machines, derogatorily called Tin Cans. Without Arnold to come in to rescue me, I had to memorise the patrol patterns, manage my decoy tools and patiently wait until the area was clear before moving on. With such a perfect start, I was hopeful that Terminator Resistance would be more than a mindless shooter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before things started going south.

Shortly after the hospital incident, Rivers is given access to plasma weapons and is able to fight the Terminators mano-a-machino and the need for stealth is thrown out of the window. The game gives you carte blanche to blast everything in sight. The once-threatening T-800s become little more than metallic zombies as I was able to cut through them like Robert Patrick through John Connor’s foster parents. This shift in momentum suited the story really well, it was at this point the tide began to shift in humanity’s favour, but it also made the game ridiculously easy as I could open fire on anything that wasn’t a human and be done with the game.

Granted, there are some enemies that take a few rounds to take out, but they are still easily taken care of thanks to the broken crafting mechanics that Terminator Resistance employs. There’s an abundance of spare parts lying around just about everywhere, including in every single enemy. With only a few bits and bobs, I was able to craft all the ammo, healing kits and lockpicks I ever wanted, allowing me to be neigh on invincible just one hour into a 10-hour game. The ridiculously dumb AI employed by Terminator Resistance is laughable and after the hospital segment, the CPU turns from ruthless killer to Star Wars Stormtrooper levels of stupidity, only able to hit you if you stand in one spot long enough. At one point, I was able to run from one end of a map, pass two dozen enemies, destroy a Terminator spawning area and only get shot once. Being this overpowered so early in the game meant that the lengthy missions were dull, drawn out and provided no challenge whatsoever. If Terminator Resistance continued on its stealth path or switched to a DOOM-style game, where countless enemies punctuate compact levels, I feel the game would have been more engaging than what it ended up being. 

I probably would have enjoyed the action more if the game’s environments were in any way inspiring, but unfortunately, the choices boiled down to either a post-apocalyptic city or… another post-apocalyptic city which was reminiscent of Xbox 360-era games like Fallout 3, where all the detailing is limited to shades of grey. The wide open areas provided pockets of enemies to take out but overall, it felt empty rather than deserted. It’s not all bad news though, the Terminators themselves are as imposing as ever, with the light reflecting off their metal domes really well. The little spider bots scuttle at you in a crisp, robotic manner but the human character models are not so great. Flappy mouths, jagged edges and a slight look of ship model dummies made me question if I was playing a game from 2003, rather than 2023.

The gameplay and graphics might not be up to snuff but Terminator Resistance does have a few selling points that saves it from the scrap heap. While the graphics really don’t do the game any favours, the characters Rivers interacts with have surprisingly deep backstories that flesh out a world devastated by the events of Judgement Day. Throughout the game, Ryan, the leader of a small group of survivors regales his brutal rise to becoming the one people turn to in a crisis that revolves around the death of his brother. The DLC expands on the story in a similar way with two additions included in one package –Annihilation Line, where you fight alongside Kyle Reese before he’s sent back to the 1980s. Each bit of content only lasts a handful of hours but mixes up the repetitive gameplay found in the main campaign. Infiltrator Mode is particularly addictive  as you take the mantle of a T-800 whose sole purpose is to methodically work your way through enemies looking for a particular member of the resistance to gain intel. The DLC isn’t long enough to sell the game on its own merits, but they round out the package nicely.

Terminator Resistance: Complete Edition ticks a lot of boxes, the story of what happens post Judgement Day fills in some of the gaps left by James Cameron’s original works and the first few levels where you are stalked by the machines are absolutely brilliant. It’s unfortunate that the game quickly becomes a by-the-numbers shooter with its baffling AI, bland environments and dull gameplay. The included DLC does help matters a little, with the Infiltrator Mode being a short-lived highlight, but unless you’re a diehard Terminator fan, it’s probably not for you. 

In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.

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