Playing the Lame Vol. 23

So it’s been a good while since we’ve gotten together like this, hasn’t it? The last time we got together like this, I was gleefully gloating over my acquisition of an Atari Jaguar, spitefully looking forward to Final Fantasy XIII, and talking about bad Pokemon games, which I would have done again this year, except that I was busy doing… I don’t know, something else. Playing Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 probably. Seeing as how that was over a year ago, things have changed considerably since then. I’ve gotten a new job, attended my first E3 (but likely not my last), dealt with more personal nonsense than I’d ever feel comfortable getting into in a column about bad games on a gaming website, and generally just been swamped all around, to the point where I just haven’t had a chance to do much with the column. But with my free time having expanded somewhat, coupled with a dearth of games coming out this year that I’m interested in, I’m looking to try and get things going again, so in the spirit of that, let’s review a couple of key points before we get things started.

ONE: WHEREIN I SHARE MY THOUGHTS ON FINAL FANTASY XIII:

So, Final Fantasy XIII, aside from being one of the most poorly received games in its franchise (relative to the franchise itself, you understand), featured a million zippers and belts, was described as being exceptionally linear for at least fifty percent of the experience, and is largely inaccessible to anyone who isn’t a fan, by all indications. I actually forced myself to choke down a few hours of the game out of perverse curiosity, and while I can say that Lightning is a fine heroine in that she’s not mostly nude and is something of a strong character, I found no reason to care about her or any of her allies during my time with the game, nor did I find any reason to want to continue playing the game beyond the brief period of time I spent with it in the first place. If you enjoyed the game, as I’m sure many of you did, you’re welcome to do so, and the game (marginally) outsold Final Fantasy XII, so Square Enix can consider it wildly successful, one suspects, but the game is still millions shy of Final Fantasy X in terms of sales power and likely isn’t the success the company was hoping for. Yeah, they’ve announced a sequel to the game, but they released a sequel to Final Fantasy XII and people complain about that game frequently too, so this isn’t a case of “the game was successful so we’re capitalizing on that” as much as it is Square Enix departing from reality in hopes anything will sell.

Also, it was bricking some people’s systems, so there’s that.

TWO: WHEREIN I SHARE MY THOUGHTS ON FINAL FANTASY XIV:

Anything I could say about the game could be summed up by the statement that Square Enix is letting everyone play the game for free right now until they fix everything that everyone hates about the game, so there you go. Moving on.

THREE: WHEREIN THE 3DS CAME OUT:

The 3DS has officially debuted, to much fanfare and love from the gaming community, as well as tons of sales records according to Nintendo, and… it’s okay. The 3D technology is fine enough, though I can’t see it being a big selling point in the long term because it’s mostly a gimmick, and the hardware in the console is fine enough that most developers will likely be able to get some great games out of it, eventually. That said, the launch has been mediocre, to be honest, and for the most part, the first year of the console is looking to be ports and tech demos, with the possibility of some cool games out of Nintendo by the end of the year. At this point, I’ve played six games on the 3DS and, so far, not been particularly impressed by a single one enough that I feel that I can recommend the console to anyone, and the only (AND I MEAN ONLY) reason I bought one is so that the site would have more than two people on board who can review games for it, as the launch titles didn’t inspire me to buy a single one. It’ll likely be a great console in a year, once all of the ports and half-assed releases are done with and people start really working on making good games for the console, but at the moment, it’s basically not making a huge impact, aside from the massive sales numbers of course, and it’ll likely be a year before anything amazing comes out for the system unless Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D ends up being some weird action/RPG hybrid that improves on the complaints people had about Resident Evil 5 to a level where everyone awards it Game of the Year or something similar.

On the other hand, it gives me coins to use in various games just for walking around, so I’m not completely unhappy with the purchase.

FOUR: WHEREIN JACK TRETTON IS HORRIBLE AND NO ONE IS SURPRISED:

Somewhere in the past few years, I officially adopted the opinion that I hate Sony as a game company, in its entirety, for many reasons. They killed Working Designs, they crippled Agetec to a point where the company might as well be dead, they canned the possibility of another Sakura Wars game coming stateside, and so on and so forth. The biggest reason I have an issue with the group, however, comes back to their egotistical attitude, or more specifically, their need to talk garbage about the two major competitors in the field, Microsoft and Nintendo. This is not to say that either of those companies is likeable in any way, or that they’re immune to being wholly terrible in their own right, but whenever I see people complaining about someone being rude and ignorant in an interview, it’s usually from a Sony employee, and whenever I see an interview with just about anyone who actually works for Sony directly, I can almost guarantee that the person being interviewed will say something delusional and demeaning about the competition, even though reality does not even come close to bearing them out. To whit:

“They’re starting to run out of steam now in terms of continuing to be relevant in 2011 and beyond(…) I mean, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Why would I buy a gaming system without a hard drive in it? How does this thing scale? Motion gaming is cute, but if I can only wave my arms six inches, how does this really feel like I’m doing true accurate motion gaming?” – Tretton, on the 360 and Wii.

“Our view of the ‘Game Boy experience’ is that it’s a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those(…) He’s too old for that.” – Tretton, on the DS and 3DS.

You know, I could absolutely destroy this man’s arguments. It wouldn’t even be hard. I could point out that on a tech level, the 360 and PS3 are largely comparable, with minor differences between the two, and the only noticeable differences are the larger disc space (on the PS3) and the better handling of RAM and OS footprint (on the 360). I could point out that no one on the development or purchasing side of the equation cares about the larger disc space on the PS3 because 360 releases almost always outsell their PS3 counterparts, and developers will release for what sells, not what has more space. I could point out how the DS has an installed user base double that of the PSP, and really, what more of an argument would I need to make than that?

But the fact is, I don’t have to. Everyone knows he’s completely and totally wrong on every possible level. Everyone knows he’s not part of what Al Franken would call the “objective reality” set. Everyone knows he’s badmouthing his competition because he knows it’ll get his name out into the world. The only, AND I MEAN ONLY, people defending his arguments at this point are, sorry, Sony fanboys and girls, and if that hurts, then you need to OPEN YOUR EYES and WELCOME TO REAL LIFE. Jack Tretton is saying these sorts of things because he knows the sycophantic fans of the company will defend him and everyone else will stop and laugh, which will, in turn, draw more attention to the company. It’s all about keeping up appearances.

Though I did like the implication that any twenty-something year old man who plays a DS in public has no self respect, especially since he essentially didn’t include women in that assessment at all. Real classy, that.

So, let’s make this simple. Jack, I’d like to like your console, and by extension, your company. Your internet play is free of charge, you do have some games I enjoy playing, and your division has made some great strides in the past few years across the board. But you’re releasing a new handheld that, by all indications, won’t be compatible with any of my UMDs and if you’ve addressed how I’m supposed to do something with this I haven’t seen it. You’re still in third place by about three million units and if you can’t manage to turn that around by the end of the year then you’ve basically failed as a person. I get that you need to posture and make yourself look awesome to the masses. I get that you need to make it sound like Sony is fantastic and that your world is sunshine and candy. But all you can offer is a lot of bragging that everyone knows is completely out of touch with reality, because no one’s paying attention to you and your NGP, and the fact is that I simply cannot be bothered to care about your whining. Stop driving your sports car in front of my house at odd hours, stop showing off your fancy house, and accept the fact that you have a tiny E-penis. That’s life. Deal with it.

And I managed all of that without any profanity, to boot, because honestly, that’s how little I care about this mess. Just saying.

Before we begin, let’s review the rankings, shall we?

Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust – Microsoft Xbox 360
Universal Studios Theme Park Adventures – Nintendo Gamecube
ALF – Sega Master System
Miracle Warriors: Seal of the Dark Lord – Sega Master System
Alex Kidd in High Tech World – Sega Master System
Evil Dead: Hail to the King – Sega Dreamcast
Robinsin’s Requiem – Panasonic 3DO
WCW Thunder – Sony Playstation
Beyond the Beyond – Sony Playstation
Deadly Towers – Nintendo Entertainment System
Dinotopia – Microsoft Xbox
Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis – Microsoft Xbox
Ephemeral Fantasia – Sony Playstation 2
Alone in the Dark – Microsoft Xbox 360
Monsterseed – Sony Playstation
Slaughter Sport – Sega Genesis

We’ve still not decided on an official number order, but this is the general order of the games up to this point, and unofficially, Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust is pretty much the one to beat. Just as a refresher.

With that all successfully taken care of, let’s make fun of a bad game, whaddaya say? You (and you, and you, and you) and me, just like old times. Won’t that be fun? Sure it will. Let’s go.

PLAYING THE LAME, VOLUME 23.

Name of the offending title: Terminator Salvation.
What system was this forced upon: The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, though we’re covering the 360 version in this case.
Who was responsible for this crap: There are four different publishers assigned to this game, based on what part of the world you live in, with Equity Games having published it in the US (with this apparently being the only game they published under this name), Evolved Games having published it in Australia (they being the publishers of such awesome products as development hell resident Malice), Warner Bros. themselves having published it in Europe, and Taito, of all companies, having published it in Japan. The game was developed by GRIN, a company known for making games that fluctuate in quality based on the temperature, such as the awesome Bionic Commando: Rearmed, the decent Wanted: Weapons of Fate, the mediocre Bionic Commando reboot, and, well, this. Of the lot, the only company still standing is Warner Bros., as Grin went bankrupt, Equity Games hasn’t published anything since under their own name, Evolved Games hasn’t published anything in two years, and Taito was absorbed by Square-Enix. I’m not saying this game was the reason all of these things happened, mind you, but I AM saying it certainly couldn’t have helped.
Date this abomination was foisted upon us: May 19th, 2009. Wikipedia says this is the 139th day in the Gregorian Calendar (AKA the calendar we follow). Wikipedia also says this is International World Hepatitis Day, which seems oddly appropriate.

Your soundtrack for this article is a mix of Vicious Delicious and Legend of the Black Shawarma from the band Infected Mushroom. They make a very addictive hard rock electronic sort of music that’s incredibly interesting and basically sounds like what The Prodigy used to make back when they had something interesting to show off. Plus, they’re from Israel, which is neat to me for some reason.

A BRIEF LAYOUT OF “TERMINATOR SALVATION“:

Some time in the past few months, for reasons I can’t really articulate, I made the decision to attempt to actively improve my Achievement score on Xbox Live. There’s clearly no practical reason for doing this, as a higher Achievement score isn’t going to solve the complex mysteries of life, improve my credit score, get me a better job, or improve my attractiveness to women, so aside from “because I want to”, I can’t really provide a good reason for doing this thing. I think the initial inspiration came from looking through my list of played games and, at some point during this, seeing something that indicated that my POTENTIAL Achievement score was somewhere around two hundred and fifty thousand points, something I’m nowhere near achieving at this point, and as a result, I decided that the most practical use of my free time would be trying to increase this score. Clearly, this was a less than optimal conclusion to come to regarding a score value that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but it keeps me entertained, so whatever, I guess. After some initial consideration and tweaking, I dubbed this “Mark B’s Cheevo Quest”, courtesy of J. Rose and his penchant for coming up with stupid names for things. Having considered it, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that the name is, in fact, quite stupid, and opted for the more respectable “Cheevo Initiative”, as I feel it lends class to the proceedings (shut up). For the most part, the Cheevo Initiative has involved me renting or buying games with easily acquired Achievements, then clearing these Achievements out, either mostly or entirely, with the intentions of increasing the size of my E-unit to something less shameful, because this is obviously a noble and worthwhile endeavor.

Additionally, in theory, this means I get to play a lot of crappy games. You can understand why I might be enthusiastic about this thing.

The problem, of course, is that most of the games I’ve completely cleared out on the Achievement front have been either good, in the case of something like Tekken 6 or Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, or aggressively mediocre, such as Megamind: Ultimate Showdown or TMNT. It’s not that the 360 doesn’t have a list of truly terrible games; rather, it comes down to the fact that most of the games that are easy to earn Achievements in are generally neither good enough to recommend to others nor bad enough to openly revile. Bomberman: Act Zero and Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust are terrible games, but their Achievements are very nearly impossible to earn completely in most respects, as they either require you to become exceptionally good at a terrible game, or they require you to spend something like thirty hours with a game you can barely stand to spend thirty minutes playing. This, to me, showcases a fundamental failure on both the part of the developers of terrible games and developers who make games that can be cleared of all Achievements in one sitting, the former because it’s one less reason for anyone to play your game ever, and the latter because if you can’t make a good game, I’d rather you make a game that’s atrocious.

Well, leave it to GRIN to step up to the plate and actually go out of their way to make a game that is both incredibly easy to clear of its Achievements AND aggressively terrible. I’d congratulate them if, you know, they were still in business, but I guess a posthumous congratulatory round of applause is better than nothing, right?

WHY THIS GAME SUCKS:

A lot of people on the internet, at least, tend to make this obvious and painfully unfunny joke about how Gears of War, on a visual level, is eight million shades of brown and gray. I understand the joke on a base level, as a lot of games DO make use of this sort of a bland color palette, and Gears frequently makes use of these sorts of colors, but the constant repetition of the internet masses of this joke does not make it any more true than when they started using it. Now, perhaps I’m not the best person to be critical of this subject, since I did play through both games and all, but when someone (and you know who they are, because it’s always the same people) talks about the eighty million grays, browns, and occasional reds the game uses as its color palette as if this is somehow an edgy and different viewpoint, aside from immediately sighing and thinking to myself “What is the deal with airline food, anyway?”, I immediately come up with two questions. The first is, did you guys somehow miss like half of Gears of War 2, or more specifically, the half that the developers likely crammed into the game because of complaints about the color palette in the first game? There were greens and blues and shit in that game, I swear. The second thought that comes to my mind, however, is “Have you ever been to a city, like, ever?” because I have, and honestly, that’s kind of the color palette of most major cities. Take New York, for example. There are a lot of gaudy store fronts filled with electronics and such, but assuming one were to remove the tacky electronics from the storefronts, the primary colors you’re going to see as you look around are going to be brown, gray, and black, with the occasional reds for corporate chains and eye catching displays. There are not a lot of bright purple businesses in New York (well, unless you count strip clubs, and even then, not that many), for instance, and while I can appreciate your interest in seeing a more varied color scheme, some places in the world are not exceptionally vibrant, color-wise.

Well, apparently GRIN heard all of these jokes and decided that this was both completely true and a valid way of doing business, because Terminator Salvation is eighty percent that color palette. Seriously. Aside from a stage where you’re looking out the display of a Hunter Killer mech, which turns the visuals orange for whatever reason, the whole game is an industrial nightmare with about five minutes of actual non-urban landscape to break up the monotony. This probably wouldn’t be so bad if the graphics actually looked good, you understand, but the game, frankly, looks like a first-gen 360 game in most respects, between the horrible human character models and the repetition of the same four or five enemies throughout the course of the whole game. The game looks like the visual designer said “Let’s stick some Terminators in there, and a couple people, and some cities, and BROWN GRAY BROWN BROWN woo look at the time, let’s take a break”, and then he quit and no one took over for him. I mean, I’m not expecting the game to be set in Las Vegas or some shit, but they didn’t even try to do anything to make the visuals pop in the least. “Here’s a city. Here’s an underpass. Here’s another city. Here’s another underpass. Here’s a rural trail with a few trees. Here’s another city. Here’s a factory. Here’s the credits.” It boggles the mind.

Anyway, the game sticks you as John Connor, who we all know is going to eventually lead the Resistance in the future as it seeks to shut down Skynet and save humanity from the horror of the Terminators, so of course, at this point, John is basically a grunt that no one cares about. Because that’s what I showed up to see. The story of the game is meant as a prequel of sorts to the film of the same name, and as anyone who’s seen the film knows, it starts off with John Connor as a glorified grunt in the Resistance and ends with him basically reaching a point, character-wise, where the Resistance fighters look to him for guidance and leadership, implying an end point that we’re already aware will be happening sooner or later. As such, the video game basically has to end with John still being a shitty glorified grunt, but since the game needs to have some sort of narrative purpose, it starts him off as an even shittier grunt, and gives him this complex about trusting his own judgment for some reason. Now, while the whole “John eventually takes leadership of his squad and leads them into battle” concept likely could have been excised because it’s redundant and does nothing of merit, in the hands of capable writers, the “fear of trusting his own judgment” concept could have been awesome. John Connor has been told his whole life, by his mom and the occasional robotic Arnold Schwarzenegger and Summer Glau, that he’s going to lead the Resistance against the Terminator threat. That’s basically the message he’s been given from the moment he could understand words until the moment that everything goes to shit. A competent writer could easily turn that concept into a complex phobia for a character, where the character has been told all his life that he needs to be the savior and now that it’s actually happened he chokes and doesn’t want to do anything until the climax. A good writer could make that storyline compelling, even, and make it a joyful thing to behold when the climactic moment occurs.

Instead, we get a couple of people breaking John’s balls about being indecisive for an hour before John takes over leadership, five minutes of John whining when someone under his command dies, and a straight shot to the end where John’s plan totally comes off without a problem and the credits roll. It’s like the whole “John Connor doesn’t believe in himself” subplot is there exclusively to justify why he’s not leading the Resistance now and the whole thing feels like it’d be insulting to a ten year old. It doesn’t help that the whole plot outside of this is “John Connor gets a radio message from some dude, somewhere, and feels compelled to rescue him, and also take out a bunch of Terminators along the way”, because that’s boring and stupid. People keep bitching at John about the fact that he’s leading them into a suicide mission to save some random dude because he’s leading them into a suicide mission to save some random dude, and the only reason that he ends up in a position that could be considered a net positive is because he manages to convince a large group of underground survivalists to join his cause towards the end of the game, not because of any great plans on his part. I mean, I’m not saying that he doesn’t accomplish some stuff during the game, as he does blow up some presumably important locations that Skynet likely considers… well, mildly useful anyway. However, he also loses like half of the troops that end up under his command by the end of the game, the things he destroys are mostly not vital Skynet targets, and at the end of the day, he led everyone in the game on a suicide mission to save some random dude, which I really can’t stress enough, because half of the people he met fucking died.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering “What about Blair Williams and Barnes?”, I’ve given them about as much attention as the plot of the game did, so there you go. Blair basically acts as an enabler to John, berating his lack of decisiveness and reinforcing his decisions when he finally makes them, but otherwise is basically the Dom to John’s Marcus, only with less meaningful character development. Barnes, meanwhile, shows up about halfway through the game as a random part of the survivalist group, joins up “because (he’s) tired of running”, and then basically fades into the background from there. The dude you’re trying to save, one David Weston, is given more plot importance than either of these two characters, and unlike Barnes and Williams, Weston isn’t even a fucking character in the film. I mean, call me crazy, but it would have made a lot more sense if John were trying to save Barnes, both because it would explain why John and Barnes have a close relationship in the film and because it would actually give some plot importance to a character who actually appears in the fucking movie. Hell, why not have Connor out there trying to save, say, Kyle Reese? We get an immediately obvious reason for him doing so (so he doesn’t cease to fucking exist) with no further explanation needed, really, and it allows the developers to be lazy, which they clearly would have been either way. The end result of all of this is you saving someone who literally has no impact on the film whatsoever, while the main character goes through the most cliché and boring character development arc known to man and his two allies basically stand around saying nothing interesting whatsoever for the entire game.

Good job guys.

I would like to note, however, that the audio is actually not all that bad. Christian Bale essentially refused to reprise his role as John Connor for the game, but as he’s the only member of the cast who can be considered a “big star”, that’s hardly a surprise or anything. Moon Bloodgood (and might I say, THAT is an awesome name) and Common (less awesome) reprise their roles as Williams and Barnes, respectively, and do a fine job lending their voices to the game, and the Bale substitute, Gideon Emery, doesn’t make me want to stab my eardrums out or anything. Also, Rose McGowan does a voice in the game, which seems like a step down after Grindhouse and Charmed, but considering she was also involved with Marilyn Manson and worked on both Monkeybone and Darkwatch, clearly her judgment is not what one would call sound. The music also frequently makes use of the various pieces from the films and is largely inoffensive, and the gunfire sounds like gunfire, at least, so there’s little to complain about in the audio department. If the whole game was that way we likely wouldn’t be here, but here we are and there it is.

Which brings us neatly to the gameplay, but rather than address what the game does to start with, let us instead address what the game does not do. The game does not offer any sort of multiplayer besides co-op campaign play, and since almost all of your allies die at some point or another, that’s restricted to two players, no exceptions. The game does not offer any sort of play mode beyond the campaign at all, come to that, so you’ll literally be buying a game that offers nothing once the campaign is done. The game does not do anything to vary the combat significantly; you’ll see one section where you pilot an HK drone, a couple sections mounted behind a turret, and a metric ton of third person shooter gameplay, none of it very good. The game does not go beyond five hours, at the most, and that’s assuming you suck and die a bunch of times. In simple terms, the game is entirely about its core gameplay, the end, and you’ll have to love the core gameplay in order to enjoy the game itself, which, as you’d expect, is no easy task.

So what does the game do, you might ask?

It rips off Gears of War, then breaks all of the things that made that game good.

The core of the game is a cover-based third person shooter, complete with teammates to work with, weapons to switch out, enemies to flank, and so on, and in theory, this isn’t a terrible idea. The game is set in the future to some extent or another, which in turn allows for some futuristic weaponry to be available. A cover based shooting system isn’t a bad thing to employ, since the Terminators and the front line robotic enemies are likely to spend time shooting back, and it’ll likely be a fun time all around. Even if the game is derivative as hell, Gears of War is a fun game, and that game with deadly robots instead of the Locust isn’t a terrible idea. Hell, it’d probably even be a worthwhile acquisition if you’re a fan of the Terminator franchise, just because you’re shooting deadly robots. That’s a cool game right there, if done right, and it’s a cool game you can play with friends, even.

So, of course, absolutely none of the game is done right.

The gunplay is mediocre at best, to start with. Combat comes down to you shooting at the enemy while the enemy shoots at you, but anything beyond the basic entry level grunts doesn’t just go down to a volley of gunfire. The robots you’ll face all have well defended fronts, and you’ll be expected to flank them and take out the weak points in the back of the robots in order to survive. Aside from this being a contrived concept, as what sort of AI is going to leave a flashing weak point in the back of its line level soldiers, honestly, the fact is that this does not work well as a gameplay mechanic. At best, your allies will be okay enough at their jobs to shoot the enemy in the backside when available or distract it while you do so, but about half of the battlefield areas don’t have readily available flank points, and your allies will often get distracted with other enemies, leaving you in a position where you simply cannot advance without getting torn up significantly in the process. This is great, of course, because with the exception of the shitty flying grunts and the occasional Hunter Killer planes (which show up when you have like a billion rocket launchers to work with), the only things you end up seeing otherwise are goofy spider mechs that hurt a bit and take too long to kill and two types of Terminators, both of which hurt a WHOLE LOT and take FUCKING FOREVER to kill, so you’ll literally be spending a shitload of time in cover, hoping someone does something useful eventually. It doesn’t help that the game consists of the same five enemies, forever, or that the weapon variety is so utterly limited that you’ll likely be using the same rifle you found at the start of the game as an ending weapon, not because it’s awesome, but because everything else is lame, either, but these are only contributing issues on top of a greater problem, IE that the combat sucks.

But one thing I noticed about the game that I normally wouldn’t have noticed is that it’s glitchy as hell to a point where, on higher difficulties, it’s rendered virtually unplayable. Now, most reviewers tend to either take the position that the only way to play the game is to play it on the hardest difficulty and see how playable it is (which is inane because if you suck and die a lot that’s not just the game’s fault) or to play it on a lower difficulty and assume everything is hunky dory with the rest of the game (which is inane because some problems do manifest on higher difficulty levels). Now, personally, I tend to experiment with different difficulty levels as needed, but I tend to complete the game on a lower difficulty level, because I’m on a clock and, frankly, I beat Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, and The Amazing Spider-Man Versus the Kingpin on Nightmare, fuck you, I have nothing left to prove. But I don’t usually go through the whole game on the hardest setting, because I presume that the game will likely manifest its flaws that make it belligerent early on. With Terminator Salvation, this is true, as by the mobile turret section of the first stage you’re straight-up getting chewed up by enemies thanks to the horrible healing mechanic. See, unlike a game with a health bar, where you have curatives to repair damaged health, or a game with a regenerating health bar, where your health regenerates while you’re not taking damage, Terminator Salvation does this weird thing where you regenerate health after battle, which means that 1.) any damage you take at the moment sticks with you until everything is dead, and 2.) if two combat sections are close together, you don’t get to regenerate. The turret sections of the game put a big exclamatory “fuck you” on that point, by spawning multiple groups of enemies one after the next against you, making the targeting so counter-productive as to be pointless, and making it so that if you can’t kill the enemies in a quick enough amount of time you’re basically fucking dead, and the game ends the first chapter with one, so, hey, broken game, right? Easy enough, no fuss, allows me to move on with my day.

But the problem is that one of the Achievements required me to beat the game on the highest difficulty, so I didn’t have that option.

So, an hour later, I’ve cleared out this section of the game, and about another hour later I’ve seen the loading screen more times than I care to count and ticked off probably fifteen minutes of my life staring at a Terminator eye. This is when the gameplay segment from hell comes up. So, the game decides to set up a situation where your team is being chased down by a couple T-600s (I think, by this point I stopped caring) who pretty much want your shit dead. Now, as we’ve established with the various films, Terminators are pretty much impervious to bullets for the most part, and the game holds true to that; even on the easiest difficulty, you’ll have to empty most of your ammo into one to kill it, which is fine as a fear mechanic, but horrible as a gameplay mechanic, especially when you’re facing multiples of them at a time. So in this section, one of the characters is manufacturing pipe bombs for you to use against the Terminators, to counteract this bullet immunity. So, the theory is, you lure one in, blow it up with a couple bombs, a third one breaks down the door to your left, you blow IT up with a couple bombs, and then you run like hell. This is all easily done on the other difficulties, so it doesn’t seem like a big thing on the hardest difficulty.

What actually happens is that, since the Terminators take an obscene amount of damage to kill, you have to use about half your pipe bombs on one Terminator, which means, if you miss with one, you have to start over. This becomes a problem when the main Terminator gets stuck behind a pillar, and thus cannot be killed because it won’t move into range of your ability to throw… or anything else, for that matter. Assuming it does move in range, whenever you run out of pipe bombs you have to leave cover to get more, which means being chewed up by two chain guns from the two Terminators on the screen, which both do serious damage to your health. If you somehow run out of pipe bombs before you’ve killed it and your ally hasn’t made any more yet, you might get the wonderful treat of the Terminator walking up to you (since you can’t stop it), vaguely swinging at you, and killing you instantly, which is awesome. If by some chance you can kill both of the Terminators in your way of the door, unless you have over fifty percent of your health left (hint: you won’t), you then have to run through a hail of chain gun bullets because there’s no cover between you and the door and the Terminator flanking you is all too happy to end your shit before you can leave the section.

Fuck you, GRIN.

Now, it’s entirely possible you can complete this section with another person. I wouldn’t know, because I wasn’t interested in pissing off someone else to get a shitty Achievement. After two hours of repeating a fundamentally broken section, I said “fuck this”, turned the game off, and proceeded to glitch the game out to get the last Achievement, because to be honest, I straight-up don’t give a shit. GRIN has made exactly two games I didn’t dislike, in Bionic Commando: Rearmed and Wanted: Weapons of Fate, and the latter had ANOTHER impossible Achievement that could only be earned by insane players or glitching out the game, so frankly, I don’t give a goddamn about not “earning” that Achievement, because the whole entire game is a festering shitpile and all I wanted by that point was to never play it again, ever.

CLOSING COMMENTS:

That all said, taking a look at the rankings, Terminator Salvation likely ranks somewhere between Beyond the Beyond and Deadly Towers at this point, thus placing it into the top ten, but not especially high in said top ten. At the end of the day, while the game is frustrating and borderline unplayable on the highest difficulty setting, I was able to complete it without too many deaths on the easiest setting, and the game might have actually been good if anyone involved had any idea what they were doing. GRIN did show that they were capable of learning from their mistakes with the mostly playable Wanted: Weapons of Fate, which was also only about four hours long, but was enjoyable enough that I didn’t care. In the end, I suspect that they would have eventually made more than one really good game if given enough time, but the business is not a forgiving one, alas, and they serve more as an example of what happens when nobody wants to play your games than anything else, which is kind of a shame.

Even if this sucked.

Anyway, with the release schedule trickling to a crawl for the next month or so, and with the fact that I’m prepping for E3 this year (hopefully), I’m going to try and get into a more routine schedule with these things going forward, if only for personal amusement if nothing else. What that means is that I’m going to get to the two main nominations I have left, Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions from Burnasaurous Roar, and Aliens vs Predator: Requiem from Aaron Sirois, before working my way through whatever I have to work with. Feel free to leave nominations that I’ll get to, eventually, and until next time, I’m Mark B., and you’re not.

And you should be very happy about that, because I just farted.




















































































AND OH GOD IT STINKS!

Tags:

2 Comments

Leave a Reply to Thomas R Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *