Coming off the back of 2014's Rambo: The Video Game, it's easy to see why expectations for Teyon and Reef Entertainment's next joint venture were not at an all-time high. The twosome has finally arrived on the current generation of consoles with a whole lot of negative baggage and yet another movie property in their palms, but can they do a better job than their big-screen counterparts this time around? Terminator: Resistance is an admirable effort at creating a purely single player first-person shooter, held back by the lack of a AAA budget and monotonous combat.
Set almost 30 years after Judgement Day in the Future War timeline that was hinted at in The Terminator and T2: Judgement Day, you take up the role of Jacob Rivers in the fight against the robot invaders after he is marked for termination by Skynet. What may come across at first glance as a paper-thin plot actually turns out to be somewhat engaging the more you progress.
Rivers quickly joins a ragtag group of scavengers where he starts to make friends and form relationships, and it’s here where much of the narrative's heart comes from. We started to care for one or two of our companions, making sure to check up on them after missions and engage in conversation. One budding love interest does develop at breakneck speeds while a handful of twists are easily predicted, but they're just minor flaws amongst a decent tale of robotic war.
What holds that narrative together, however, is perhaps the most impressive thing about Terminator: Resistance. Developing your relationship with characters leads to numerous side quests, but you'll need to select the right dialogue options for that to happen. It never goes beyond Telltale-like gestures of “Jennifer appreciated that” or “Ryan will remember this”, but it's an impressive implementation for an experience that we figured would be solely focused on the shooting. It gives you a reason to return to your base of operations upon the completion of each objective with new dialogue to uncover and friendships to strengthen.
That degree of freedom also carries over into the game's commitment to tackling objectives in any order you like. Open-ended maps give you various districts to explore -- filled with resources to collect for crafting and enemies to either tackle head-on or avoid.
Speaking of which, combat is nothing more than serviceable. Equipped with the typical assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols, enemies barely put up a fight once your trigger finger is called into action. Even on the normal difficulty, you'll be able to freely stand out in the open and rain bullets down on Terminators without even sustaining a scratch yourself. It's all too easy, resulting in a seven-hour campaign that only puts up a challenge on its hardest difficulty.
Some variety can be found in the way you go about your dealings, with stealth a more than viable option, but it almost feels like a waste of time thanks to simply tackling the robotic horde head-on being a much more efficient route to success. There's little in the way of motivation to do things silently, so more often than not you'll stumble upon a group of Terminators and your plasma rifle will do all the talking.
Objectives are uninspired -- consisting of not much more than blowing up strongholds, eliminating certain robots, and traversing the environment to make it to specific destinations. Open locations may serve up some variety in how you get there, but you'll still be doing the same thing once you reach a waypoint.
Taking all of this into account, it might come as a surprise that we still managed to enjoy our time with the game. There's nothing noteworthy about Terminator: Resistance outside of its efforts to build relationships between the player and NPCs, but its simplistic nature meant we could sit back and simply plough through wave after wave of Terminators in a fairly satisfying fashion. It's first-person shooter comfort food -- serving up little in the ways of originality but doing just enough to make sure the pull of the trigger is a pleasurable routine.
If there's one area where the experience really falters, however, it's the presentation. Graphically, it can't hold a candle to other 2019 titles thanks to an incredibly dull colour palette that paints the world with a sea of doom and gloom. Some character models look better than others, but a visual powerhouse this most certainly is not. The framerate doesn't fare much better with dramatic drops that bring the title to a standstill. 30 frames per second is the aim, but whether that is achieved the vast majority of the time is up for debate.
Despite feeling out of date in one too many key areas, Terminator: Resistance manages to serve up a campaign just about worthy enough for those looking to switch their brain off and enjoy some mindless action. Its efforts to heighten the importance of relationships and interactions go a long way to differentiating the experience but held back by technical deficiencies, the vision isn’t quite fully realised.