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The nuts and bolts of 'Terminator Salvation'

June 19, 2009

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Terminator SalvationSheesh. Can't the Connor family do anything right? Despite their best efforts, the future they have dreaded has to come to pass. Blowing up Arnold Schwarzenegger with a pipe bomb and crushing him in a hydraulic press did nothing. Pushing Robert Patrick into a vat of molten steel didn't prevent the future apocalypse and neither did sticking a hydrogen fuel cell into Kristanna Loken's mouth and blowing her to smithereens. Looking back, maybe we should have called on Master Chief, Dr. Gordon Freeman or Samus Aran to clean up this mess instead.

Since neither of those kick ass heroes are available in 'Terminator Salvation' the video game you have to play as resistance fighter John Connor, who looks a lot like Christian Bale but sadly, he won't throw a temper tantrum no matter how button combinations you hammer out or cheat codes you enter. The setting and storyline take place two years before the events of the movie. Although Blair Williams (voiced by Moon Bloodgood from the movie) is at your side, Barnes, Connor's right-hand man, is not at the start of the game.

Terminator SalvationConnor is still a valued member of the Resistance but a pain in their butts as well. Witnessing the fall of Los Angeles to the machines, Connor and Bloodgood intercept a distress call from a squad of Resistance fighters. Disobeying orders, Connor and Bloodgood rush headlong into enemy territory to rescue their fellow soldiers. Along the way, some wayward soldiers (one voiced by Rose McGowan) and survivalist Barnes (Common) join the suicide mission that culminates in an all-out assault on a Skynet compound.

To frag the bots, you have rifles, shotguns, machine guns, grenades, pipe bombs, mounted guns, grenade launchers and the ever-trusty rocket launcher. The challenge 'Terminator Salvation' presents is that certain weapons work best against certain enemies. For example, a shotgun will blast a buzzing Aerostat into scrap metal in just two shots while it will take considerably longer to do so with a rifle. Also, where you focus your attacks makes a difference. T600s are vulnerable from behind but flanking them can be very tricky.

Terminator SalvationNot only will you come face to face with Terminators from the movie franchise like the T600, the Aerostat (Wasps), the flying Hunter Killer gun ship death machines, the cycle-like Mototerminators and the gargantuan Harvester but there is some new enemies like the T-7-Ts, spider-like robots that prowl the streets.

As in something like 'Gears of War', rushing headlong into battle in 'Terminator Salvation' will get you killed. You must employ the cover system to survive. That means, ducking, running and sliding behind barriers that provide protection against the enemy is an absolute must. The system itself works very well. Combined with the different weapons types and their vulnerability settings, the gun battles become very strategic although regrettably you will be facing the same enemies all the time. Without the cover or weapon systems to spice things up, the game would have become very boring, very fast. They are what save 'Terminator Salvation' from being thrown into the video game recycling bin.

Terminator SalvationThe best parts of 'Terminator Salvation' are the rail sequences. The two featuring the Mototerminators were the highlights for me. In one you protect a subway train and in the other a school bus full of survivors from the pursuing Skynet motorcycles that have uncanny agility and speed. Picking them off with mounted machine guns or rocket launchers and seeing them flip end over end as they explode was supremely satisfying.

'Terminator Salvation' is not the most polished or longest games you will ever play. All in all, it only takes about 4 or 5 hours to get to that final cut scene and the small cast of baddies really cripples the game's replayability. That is not to say that it should be fed into a hydraulic press headfirst. The developers really do capture the mood, settings of the film franchise so there is something to be said for being able to personally immerse yourself in it and bring a friend along in the co-op mode just as long as you don't have to pay full price to do so.


Terminator SalvationTerminator Salvation
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Evolved Games / Equity Games
Developer: GRIN
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site:

Rating: 6 / 10


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