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May 31, 2009
Terminator: Salvation - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
29/4/2009WB GamesEquity Games
Evolved Games
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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The 4-legged Spider Terminator!
There is no doubt that 2009 should be a big year for Blockbuster movies. Wolverine kicked it off with some big box office numbers, Star Trek not only did some big box office numbers, but received fantastic reviews. In the coming weeks we will also see Ice Age 3, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Pixar's Up all released. For us though our most anticipated movie was Terminator Salvation. Even without Arnold Schwarzenegger it promised so much with the entire movie set in the future war. We've seen the movie at advanced screenings this weekend and while it doesn't really feel like a 'Terminator' movie it was still a fun ride overall. Warner Brothers Interactive picked up the rights to develop the game, and GRIN handled the development. Here's our thoughts...

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Aiming at the T-600 above.
This isn't a straight port of the story from the movie though, but actually takes place between the events of Terminator 3 and the fourth movie. Set in 2016 in Los Angeles, which is two years before the movie, the game sees you controlling John Connor as well as following the events of Barnes who is played by Common in the movie.

Terminator Salvation is a third person action game which sees you taking on numerous Terminators including the T-600, Hunter Killers, Spider Terminators, and Scouts across a wide range of levels. By far the coolest aspect of this game is the cover system which sees John Conner (who doesn't look like nor is voiced by Christian Bale) run and scamper from cover to cover to minimise taking damage from enemies. It works well and looks wonderful.

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That's one pretty big Terminator.
There are some deviations from a straight third person shooter. At one point you will jump into the back of a jeep and mount the machine gun to take out enemies trying to chase you down. In another section of the game you will jump into a Skynet tank and have access to some heavy weaponry including rocket-launchers and machine guns. This section of the game is pretty cool and a bit of a change of pace, but it's over all too quickly. We'll get to that issue soon...

In terms of the characters in the game we know that Christian Bale doesn't appear however Moon Bloodgood does reprise her role as Blair Williams, Common appears as Barnes and Rose McGowan has joined the video game to play a new character named Angie Salter who isn't in the movie. Unfortunately the storyline, which focuses on a single days battle, offers little of any real interest.

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Running around with a rocket launcher.
Sadly, there are numerous disappointments with Terminator: Salvation. Where to start... Certainly the biggest disappointment - and the one which makes this a non-purchase really - is the length of the game. We completed it on normal difficulty in about 5 hours, if not a bit less then that. On hard you'll have a bit tougher time, but not much while easy simply reduces the amount of damage that enemies take. The co-op mode certainly adds in a bit of fun, but makes the game easier as rather then slow acting AI friendly soldiers you can circle around enemies with ease, and will pump them full of lead rather then the odd pot-shot.

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Incoming Hunter Killer...
Compounding this issue is the fact the besides the split-screen co-op there is no online multi-player at all. Surely the developers could have included online co-op, especially as the game was built with offline co-op in mid. As for other modes such as Deathmatch, CTF or anything else, forget about it it's not there. Given that GRIN have worked on games such as Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRIN developed the PC version) which included online multi-player this is inexcusable in our books.

There's other things too. At one point in the game a Terminator walks towards a resistance fighter, and kills here. I didn't want this to happen so I restarted, managed to fire off some rockets and destroy the Terminators in the area only to turn around and then see her keel over again. It's clear she was never meant to live - at least you could put in a random explosion or something!

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Using one of the games vehicles.
At another point in the game you see a massive Harvester unit - the ones you would have seen in the trailers for Terminator: Salvation. It's clear you're going to be in for a massive struggle, but 15 seconds later you're running down a tunnel and safe. The biggest, baddest Terminator you've seen in your life is in the game for less then a minute. Sigh...

Finally we have the AI. As expected Terminators have a tendency to walk towards you without regard for their safety and that is exactly how you expect them to act. Unfortunately your friendly soldiers, despite their use of cover quite well, fail to shoot as rapidly as one would in a real situation. There is one Terminator in this game (I won't spoil which one) which has to be shot on the back. So you flank around him, your AI teammates seem to look at his back, admire it before taking one or two potshots. Why not use a system similar to GRAW2 so you can issue orders, or tell fellow soldiers where to move to?

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Texturing can be impressive at times.
It's clear that many of these issues are most likely the result of a rushed development schedule. GRIN have the technical abilities, and there are glimpses of it here, but it just doesn't come together.

Visually Terminator: Salvation is something of a mixed bag. There are certainly locations that look quite nice, but the texturing varies from quite impressive, to quite average. Animation is also little variable. John Connor's sliding and running around to take cover does look nice, but the animation on most of the other friendly soldiers looks a bit stiff and, well, wrong. In terms of cut-scenes, there are couple of cool 'Terminator' moments - you know with close ups of the shiny metallic endoskeletons - but for the most part the cut-scenes seem more like a way to force a break between chapters rather then enhancing the storyline in the game or Terminator universe overall. Visual effects such as explosions, flames, smoke are solid, as is modelling of the enemy Terminators.

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About to get whacked by a T-600!
Despite the fact the Christian Bale didn't lend his likeness or voice to this game it still sounds pretty wonderful. The other character voices are solid enough, the game includes plenty of the classic Terminator music (something missing from Terminator 3, but present in the new movie) and there are some decent sound effects such as gunfire and explosions.

I really wanted to love this game but ultimately it's hard to recommend Terminator: Salvation for a full priced purchase - it's simply too short and without an online multi-player mode the longevity simply isn't there. Having said that there are some decent locations and visuals on offer at times. Sadly, despite the potential this is a rental for Terminator fans at best.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSIt's not great by any stretch, but passable.
SOUNDNo Christian Bale, but the voiceovers, music and effects are passable.
GAMEPLAYCover system is cool, but limited enemies, poor AI make this only average.
VALUE5 hours to complete the game on medium difficulty. No online multi-player. Full price. Screw that.
OVERALLIf you're going to charge us full price for a 5 hour sub-par game and expect us to be happy, forget it. One for die-hard Terminator fans only, and even then only a rental is recommended.

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