With its rich silver screen heritage, nightmarish robotic foes and a rather convenient ‘blank’ in the story line concerning humanity’s future war with the terminators, the terminator universe should provide a rich source of inspiration for any games developer out there. Odd then, that a film franchise built around a war with computers has yet to be realised in any solid way on modern consoles; developer, GRIN Studios, is looking to put that right. Taking place a two years earlier than events in the impending film of the same name, but still set after ‘Judgement Day’, Salvation takes place in a future cityscape devastated by war, where only one man, John Connor, can win the war and save the human race – if you hadn’t guessed, this is where you come in.
After a short tutorial, consisting mainly of non-player characters (NPCs) telling you to ‘Get into cover, John’, the game gets underway and soon thereafter you encounter your first enemy. Fans of Gears of War, Uncharted or KillZone 2 will be instantly familiar with the style of combat utilised in Salvation. John Connor spends most of his time cowering for his life behind rubble, cars, trees, walls or whatever else happens by, before popping out and pumping a few well place rounds into his pursuers. One of the game’s more unique features comes into play during these cover battles, as you begin to realise that John can be sent sprawling to any one of multiple areas of cover with a simple flick of the analogue stick and press of the ‘cover’ button. This feature quickly becomes a prerequisite to success as the terminators are often immune to a frontal assault; only by flanking the machines can John exploit his enemies’ weak point – usually a (conveniently unshielded) shield generator located on their back.
During single player mode, John has his NPC cohorts to come to his aide and help out with the destruction of the series’ iconic terminator and hunter-killer robots, in multiplayer mode John can be assisted by another human player. With a friend at your side, working in tandem in order to strategically take down the lumbering machines heading your way, becomes a more strategic and enjoyable affair. Salvation’s flanking and cover system suddenly becomes all the more appropriate too, as one player lays down suppressing fire while the other circles behind – a shame then, that multiplayer is restricted to split screen mode only, with no online option for the single player campaign. However, if you are short of a willing assistant, the developers have created other means of breaking up the combat sections. By designing ‘on-rails’ levels the game turns from strategy to large scale blasting as John plays rear gunner in car chases and other scripted sequences.
While not likely to revolutionise the action/adventure genre Terminator: Salvation racked up enough positive points during play testing – detailed graphics designed by the team responsible for computer effects in the film; the robust cover mechanic; a promising looking plot and well implemented multiplayer - to make this a release to look forward to. Not only that, but who could argue that a strong Terminator title would be anything other than a success given the number of fans crying out for such a title. Look out for a full review in the non-too-distant future and you know what that means don’t you? Yes, you guessed it, I’ll be back.