Terminator Resistance Harkens Back To When The Franchise Ruled

Terminator Resistance Harkens Back To When The Franchise Ruled

Terminator: Resistance is another Terminator game, and those have been mostly awful. But I was surprised to find that this hidden gem isn’t a boring Call of Duty clone as the screenshots implied, but actually a remake of the classic Terminator shooters Bethesda developed back in the 90s. And it made Terminators scary again, something I didn’t think was possible.

There have been a lot of bad Terminator games, and a lot of bad Terminator films! That’s why I never paid much attention to 2019’s Terminator: Resistance, along with its bland name and ho-hum screenshots on Steam. But after it came out I saw people praising it, comparing it to some classic Terminator games, and even enjoying it. So for Backlog Month, I decided it was the perfect time to jump in and give this game a fair shake.

I love the visual design of the world. It's washed out and looks dead.  (Screenshot: Reef Entertainment / Kotaku)
I love the visual design of the world. It’s washed out and looks dead. (Screenshot: Reef Entertainment / Kotaku)

A quick bit of history for those of you who don’t know about the old Bethesda-developed Terminator PC games: Back in 1995, Bethesda developed Terminator: Future Shock, a semi-open world shooter featuring textured 3D graphics, drivable vehicles, and mouselook. It was impressive stuff for the 90s, especially when you consider it was released before Quake. A lot of elements and ideas from Future Shock and its 1996 sequel SkyNet carried on into Bethesda’s Fallout games, such as managing rads, exploring a post-apocalyptic world from a first-person perspective, and having lots of interior spaces to explore. In the decades that followed, most Terminator games released after these two PC games were bad or at best mediocre. There’s always been a small group of people out there who have a fondness for SkyNet and Future Shock and who have long wanted a proper remake or sequel. In 2019 they got Resistance, a spiritual sequel to those classic games.

Something Terminator: Resistance does really well is make you feel vulnerable. Robots, even small spider bots, can take away large chunks of your health very quickly. There’s also no regenerating health, so damage matters. Also, outside of special missions and the opening tutorial, the game forces you to save at specific areas on the map, so you could lose a lot of progress if you get too brave and go running around near some robots. Because of this, I ended up creeping around maps, carefully unlocking doors and searching around for supplies. After a few hours, I had some ok guns and a good amount of supplies. I was feeling good. Powerful even.

That was around the time that the game finally introduces Terminators. I was quickly reminded of how bat shit scary these bots can be if treated properly.

You get some super goggles that let you see all the evil robots through walls.  (Screenshot: Reef Entertainment / Kotaku)
You get some super goggles that let you see all the evil robots through walls. (Screenshot: Reef Entertainment / Kotaku)

Today, these walking metal skeletons of death are more or less cute mascots that appear in other games, movies, TV shows, and comics. Like the Xenomorph from Alien, T-800s have become pop culture icons, which has made it harder to fear them in 2021. But Terminator: Resistance, like the old Bethesda games, does a great job at making these metal bastards scary and intimidating. They can’t be destroyed using your basic pistol or assault rifle. If they spot you they can kill you in seconds. The game tosses a lot of them into areas, which is terrifying — the first time I encountered a large pack of these things I felt more like a child than a badass soldier. I’m not ashamed to admit that when one spotted me later, I just ran and ran and ran.

Eventually, as you level up and get better weapons, it becomes possible to kill Terminators. But they still put up a good fight, and a pack of them is still something that will cost you a lot of time, ammo, and medkits. So sneaking around, if possible, is highly advised.

Terminator: Resistance isn’t a hugely complex game. I can already feel the loop of exploration and combat starting to lose its shine after only six hours, and the writing isn’t stellar, but I’m still enjoying my time with this modern reimagining of a classic game. If you were a fan of Future Shock or SkyNet or you are looking for a new single-player Fallout-like game, I’m surprised to say I’d recommended Resistance.

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