Review: Terminator Salvation (Sony PS3)

01coverTerminator Salvation
Developer: GRIN
Publisher: Warner Bros
Genre: Action
Release Date: 05/19/09


Will this be the title that proves that movie-tie in video games OTHER than a few decent Spider-Man gamescan be excellent, or will it continue the half-hearted trend of churning out something remotely playable with a franchise stamped on it for a quick buck?

Story/Modes
As far as stories go, this one is far from original, but fits right into the the timeframe between Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation. For an action game, the characters seem to have some depth to them, and the story moves very quickly from one event to the next, which you really want in an action title anyway. Despite the mostly predictable plot, they manage to bring in a few characters from the film and give you an introduction for one and get to show you Conner and the other in action before he’s really in charge and explains why he’s so quick to forgive in the film.

You can also play this Co-op, but only on your PS3. No online for this one, but it does make things incredibly easier and makes the game move even faster when there’s two of you playing. So while the story in the game isn’t that strong, I don’t think that’s what they were focusing on.

Story/Modes Rating: Decent

02at600Graphics
This game looks fantastic visually. All you can expect from a next-gen title makes an appearance in this game. The texturing looks fantastic and the look and feel of a wrecked and apocalyptic downtown L.A. really sets the feel of the game as you play. The models look fantastic, and where they actually were using the likeness of the actors from the film, they were amazingly done.

Then someone dropped the ball. The animations can get very jerky sometimes. I thought at first it was dropping frames trying to catch up to the action that was going on screen, but while I was watching my surroundings there was nothing jerky going on, it was all in the character models and the way they moved. Everything that isn’t human or an ‘Endo’ in the game moves just fine, no real visible problems or glitches, but the T-600, humans, and the skinjobs have this jerkiness to them that is very distracting. I mean I don’t expect the Endo’s to move exactly like people, they are machines, but they didn’t have that fluid motion that the Terminators always have in the films, and then to have jerky animation of the characters on top of it just really killed my immersion.

Most of the cutscenes are fine, and appear to be done in the in game engine and look great, but the jerkiness had popped up there as well, which was really a downer. That and John looking not even remotely like any of the actors that have played him in the past didn’t help either. Couldn’t we get ONE of the previous actors to lend their look to the character if they couldn’t secure Bale?

Graphics Rating: Below Average

Sound
Anyone who has seen any of the Terminator films knows the theme music. It’s gotten several revamps over the years as different people got involved, and this game doesn’t just use it, it abuses it. It’s all over this game. There are other themes and original stuff they could have used, but well, no. Even when it auto-saves you get that dun-dun-dun-du-duh, as they hit you over the head with it. Then the other theme I kept hearing is that theme from Terminator 2 when the T-1000 is stalking just about anyone. In one section the T-600’s just keep coming at you, and coming, and coming some more. Guess what I had to endure for like 15 minutes? Yeah, they used that theme in the film to bring up the suspense. Here it’s annoying. Some variation would have been nice.

The voice actors do a decent job. The dialogue isn’t going to win any Oscars by any stretch of the imagination, but it fits with the world and events they are portraying. Sometimes the sound glitches though. Like the ending monologue with the voiceover would have been much more effective my first playthrough if the helicopter sound from the previous scene hadn’t continued to repeat in a loop over the top of the music and Conner speaking. Thankfully there are subtitles, but they’re almost always running behind the person actually speaking by a second or two sometimes AFTER they’re done with their sentences.

Sound Rating: Below Average

02spiderControl and Gameplay
I have to give them this. The controls when you’re actually running around and ducking for cover are tight. You move your stick and the character follows the way it should. The same as the weapons stick. No fault could I find in the controls when I was running around, but then we got to the rail shooting segments. You know, the ones where you’re riding a vehicle and have to aim an fire? Yeah, those could have used a bit of work. And considering you have to do that about 3 times in the game and being as short as it is it ends up being a rather big chunk of the game. The guns there just don’t aim fast enough and the weapons seem to fire off sluggishly sometimes. That really bugged me and those were the only sections that really gave me any trouble at all.

Gameplay is pretty straightforward. You’ve got an over the shoulder view from Conner’s perspective. Move with the left stick, aim with the right. You get several different weapons options as you play, picking ammo and other guns and munitions as you go. The cover system is interesting. Some of what you get behind can be shot up, and the AI takes advantage of that. You can also move fairly quickly from one cover to another if it’s close enough by moving your left stick closer and then hitting the action button. I used that one a lot.

The AI is pretty decent in this version of the game. If you split from your group and take out one of the enemies, the others will turn on you to pin you down, and if your partners open fire while they’re doing that, they’ll move off to another target. My only complaint with the partner AI is that it won’t use explosives but I have seen them switch out weapons and they’ll give you extra ammunition if they have it. So other than the rail shooting I liked the gameplay and controls.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Enjoyable

03aerialReplayability
This game is short. Very short. The only reason I played it for three days was to try out the medium and hard settings. You can seriously play all the way through this game in one three to four hour sitting and have nine of the twelve trophies off the bat. Two of the others are for medium and hard and the last is for getting all the trophies and that one is a platinum. From what I’ve read online if you play it through on your first play on hard you get them all anyway, but of course I did it the hard way so I have no idea if that’s true or not.

Other than being a good way to kill an afternoon and be done with it, there is pretty much nothing to bring you back to this game if you thought it was just ok. There’s nothing to unlock, nothing to collect, no easter eggs, no multi-player other than the co-op mode, and with some of the easiest trophies on the PSN you really don’t have a reason to pick this game up again. Ever. I don’t mind a little padding to the game to keep me interested for awhile trying to get those coins or hidden objects but this game really feels barebones in this area.

Replayability Rating: Awful

Balance
Balance wise, other than having control issues in some sections it did seem harder in every mode beyond easy. So in that respects it has it all down. The game’s length, however, coupled with no replayability, and that oh so large $60 price tag really kills this one balance-wise for me. If it was cheaper I could understand, or if the animations were smoother and it didn’t have so many issues, or if it was longer and had multi-player I could forgive it. I actually would hesitate to recommend this to anyone but those ho are die-hard Terminator fans. And even then it could wait until it’s cheaper.

Balance Rating: Pretty Poor

04railshotOriginality
Based on a film franchise up to four films long now, with a spin-off television series, the only thing this game has going in the originality department is that instead of being based directly off the story in the film, it’s set a few years prior and has it’s own story. But then it’s a story we’ve probably seen before in another film. And then we’ve seen the cover and co-op used before, even the rail shooting section isn’t anything new and has been done before and better.

Originality Rating: Below Average

Addictiveness
I was getting into this game and I played through my first time in one sitting. There was something very cathartic about blasting away machines when my job for the last ten years was keeping them running. The only parts that were frustrating were the rails and the glitches. I did actually enjoy playing the game. I just wish they’d let them polish it a bit and made it a bit longer and put it out with the DVD instead of the theater release. It is a prequel to the movie after all and doesn’t tie directly in so it could have come out much later and gotten more people into it.

Addictiveness Rating: Decent

Appeal Factor
It’s short, you get a bunch of bangs for your money but are wondering what your $60 went to after you finish. With a decent tie-in film I can see a bunch of people being interested, but with everyone already talking about how short it is and the ridiculously easy trophies I’m betting this will end up on most people’s rental list.

Appeal Factor Rating: Poor

05t600Miscellaneous
While I’ve said some pretty negative things about the game, I really did enjoy playing it. And after a year or so has gone by I’ll probably pop it in some afternoon when I have time to kill. My only complaint I have to talk about here is the crashing glitches. Why wait to mention them here? Well I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t my last PS3 firmware update that did it as 2 of my other games that had no problems before now also randomly crash on my PS3, but they usually just lock up. This game goes into a full on meltdown. That only really happened to me once. I’ve heard of other people having it crash all the time, but in my hours of shooting and so on, it was only a real problem that once. The other tie I was able to just quit out of the game and get back into it instead of having to fully reboot the PS3. So it was really a fun time playing it, but I’ve moved on to other things with my PS3, and I wouldn’t mind coming back to it later. I just wish there was more substance to it.

Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre

The Scores
Story: Decent
Graphics: Below Average
Sound: Below Average
Control and Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Awful
Balance: Pretty Poor
Originality: Below Average
Addictiveness: Decent
Appeal Factor: Poor
Miscellaneous: Mediocre
FINAL SCORE: BELOW AVERAGE

Short Attention Span Summary
Gaming Rexes are sad! A short and mostly fun 3rd person action game, this one is more for the fans of the Terminator series rather than someone jumping in for the first time. I’d recommend waiting on this one until the price drops significantly, or if you really, really want the quick platinum trophy, rent it first. Even fans may balk at the shortness of the game and the complete lack of any resemblance to Christian Bale in John Conner. Then again, there are those who might like that aspect of it. With no multiplayer other than co-op on your own machine and a really limited trophy selection, I’d have to pass on this one for something with more substance to it. There just could have been more to this game to make it fantastic and it’s just not there.

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