“I’ll be back”. That’s how far my knowledge on The Terminator goes. Because games based on movies have a bad reputation I won’t watch The Terminator before playing Salvation. Just to make sure the expectations aren’t too high.
Just barging in seems appropriate: those that like a good story in a game will be disappointed. It all starts with running away from the robots. The main character gets an emergency call that some people are still stuck and will miss the helicopter. Of course John Connor wants to go and rescue these soldiers. End of story.
If the story isn’t worth much, the gameplay should at least compensate. However, you can’t really call this great either. Often it’s limited to following the route, onwards to the next bunch of hostiles. Next to John Connor there are also some other characters that offer assistance to the rescue mission but unfortunately these aren’t the best of the best. although the machines sometimes just stand still, your friends still manage to miss them. John Connor will therefore be the one making most of the kills. Luckily there’s also an option to play together with friends in co-op.
Not all machines are killed the same way but mostly it comes down to knowing the weak points of your adversary. Some can resist an infinite number of bullets coming from the front, but some nicely targeted hits in the back will suffice. The cover system comes in quite handy for this. By pushing one button Connor hides behind a wall or a car. Changing cover works through some sort of radar that appears when you try to run away. The machines do notice John sometimes even if he’s well hidden behind a wall.
At times where objects are really close to the screen the weakness of the graphics pops up. The characters look pretty good but the environment sometimes lets you down. Los Angeles looks like an abandoned city with enough plants covering the streets. The feeling of being in a city isn’t really present in this game. This is mostly due to the fact that there’s only one route towards the goal. In between playing often cut-scenes are shown and these use the same graphics as the game. The transition goes smoothly and this helps the action.
Terminator Salvation at times offers good action but in the end it’s not a game you’ll replay often. The storyline seems to have been made up in 15 minutes and it shows in the short playing time. The weakness of your teammates can be compensated by the co-op but this doesn’t weigh up against the mediocre graphics and linear gameplay.