It’s the most 6/10 game ever made, of course. Resistance is a lesson in how to do things absolutely adequately without actually stepping out of any comfort zones. If the game’s file name in Unreal Engine was ‘FPS template’ I wouldn’t be surprised. If it had tried to surprise me at all in its couple-dozen hour runtime, I would have… well, I would have been surprised. I was not surprised by the game. I was not surprised by what I did, by where I went, by anything surrounding the actual moment-to-moment mechanics.
I was, however, surprised by the atmosphere. The feel. The clear passion Polish developer Teyon has for the Terminator franchise is evident throughout the game, from picking up Phased Plasma Rifles (“Hey, just what you see, pal”) through the song playing on the stereo you find as part of a side mission, into the soundtrack as a whole – it screams Terminator, and anyone with a mild obsession with the first two films of this franchise that definitely only includes two films (and one TV series) will be spoiled.
Because, see, we’re starved for Terminator games that do what they should do: be more like Bethesda’s DOS Terminator games from the early-mid-nineties. Resistance isn’t as good as those classics, but it does a half-decent impression, and when you’ve no other options, a half-decent impression is good enough. A few drops of tepid water will taste like the nectar of the gods if you’re thirsty enough, after all.
Even with all the caveats in place, though, there’s no denying that I actively enjoyed this game. Its mix of sort-of-but-not-really Fallout; a touch of serious tension early on when you’re facing off against (i.e. hiding from) ever-smiling patrols of T-800 endoskeletons, impervious as they are to your small-arms fire; and some base-level FPS-ing of the sort that has energy bars and critical hits to consider between letting your rifle cool-down and unleashing another volley of hot plasma.
Yes, there’s a story, there are choices, there’s a “so-and-so liked that” friendship/morality system. Your commanding officer tries to get you into bed if you’ve been a good enough soldier. You know, the usual nonsensical crap that’s put in a game because someone in management thinks it has to be there. There’s a lot of boxes ticked – with nothing above and beyond to take it past mere box-ticking. But at the same time, there’s a distinct lack of cynicism.
And I think, of everything I enjoyed with Terminator: Resistance, that’s the biggest factor – it doesn’t feel cynical. Even though it was a licensed tie-in made to release in conjunction with Terminator: Dark Fate, the most forgettable angry-robots-fighting movie ever made, it still has a charming honesty to its presentation.
And while I’m extrapolating as I write, that charm and lack of cynicism probably comes from the fact that while it is a licensed tie-in with a movie out around the same time, it doesn’t actually factor that movie in at all, instead focusing firmly on the first two films in the franchise. Which of course it would, because, as I mentioned, there are no other films in said franchise, not even the one I talked about in the previous paragraph.
So it is I’m left with a strange mix of feelings. Terminator: Resistance cannot be called a ‘good’ game, not while wearing my serious reviewer’s hat (it’s a tricorn, obviously). But I played for two dozen hours, I platinumed the damn thing, something I’ve hardly done on any game I’ve played since trophies were introduced on the PS3, and I came out of it all decidedly satisfied. When a 6/10 game combines with 9/10 heart from the developers, turns out I have a 10/10 time. Who knew?
Special mention has to go to the additional DLC Infiltrator mode, which comes as standard with the Enhanced edition of the game I played on PS5. In it, you don’t play as a human fighting against the machines, as in the main story, instead taking on the role of an ‘it’s not Arnie, honest’ T-800 on a mission to hunt down an important member of the human resistance and – you guessed it – terminate them.
It’s a contained hour or so mission with a roguelike aspect to it – you die, you’re done – that sees you finding intel, discovering more and more human bases, weapons stashes, food supplies, and more to kill or otherwise destroy. It’s a fantastic change of pace and the sort of thing that makes you wonder if it’d work as a whole game. Best of all, you can do it all with classic Terminator red-o-vision engaged. All together now: “I need yore cloze, yore bootz, und yore moderzycle.”