Review – Terminator: Resistance Enhanced
When I first heard that the people behind the Rambo game were making a Terminator title, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Reviews for the original version of Terminator: Resistance, released in 2019, were pretty poor. Weirdly enough, everyone outside of the industry I talked to that actually played it said it was a surprisingly competent game, despite its limitations. Upon hearing about a brand new “definitive edition” being announced for the PlayStation 5, taking advantage of the system’s beefier hardware, I knew I had to give this bad boy a try. I have a soft spot for a mid-tier licensed game, and Terminator: Resistance Enhanced sounded like what I was looking for.
And color me surprised, this game is shockingly… good! Granted, I’m not going to tell you this is the most polished and gorgeous game I’ve ever played, nor that this even comes close to being a statement of what the PlayStation 5 is capable of, but I had a lot of fun with it. Not to mention that considering how terrible every single Terminator movie and game has been after the release of Terminator 2 THIRTY YEARS AGO, it’s not an exaggeration to say that Terminator: Resistance Enhanced is actually one of the most competent Terminator-related products ever made. I know. I’m as astonished as you are.
Terminator: Resistance Enhanced doesn’t star Arnold or any of the previous Terminator franchise heroes. Sure, John Connor is in here, but your main protagonist is some random person called Jacob Rivers, a member of the same Resistance led by Connor in 2028. Not trying to spoil anything for the public, considering how this game’s plot actually links to the first two movies in smart ways, but you’re a member of the Resistance’s Pacific Division, which got wiped out by the tin cans shortly before the events of the game. You’ll eventually join with other Resistance higher-ups, as well as scavengers and civilians just trying to survive in this post-apocalyptic hellhole. The plot has multiple endings, as your actions dictate the outcome of the story.
If that sounds like Fallout, that’s because this is one of Terminator: Resistance Enhanced‘s main sources of inspiration. Think of it as a budget Fallout game with a more streamlined progression system. It also has pseudo open levels akin to Metro: Exodus and Gears 5 instead of a big open world to explore. Levels are presented in a linear fashion, but they are huge and full of sidequests to complete. This gives you the best of both worlds: the open-ended exploration seen in modern open world games, coupled with the more focused storytelling you get in a linear game.
The combat feels taken straight out of pretty much every single Unreal Engine 4 shooter ever made, but with a few RPG elements borrowed from Fallout. Before you ask, no, the VATS system isn’t included in here, but you can use drugs to slow down time, just like in The Outer Worlds. There are experience points and a small skill tree, but that’s as far as the game goes when it comes to trying to pretend to be an RPG. The skills are pretty basic, letting you improve your weapon damage input, hacking skills, and other attributes, but that’s all you need in a game where supplies are surprisingly scarce. Furthermore, you can also craft ammo, medkits and other items with whatever scraps you can find throughout the levels, so exploration is crucial in order to survive against the machines.
In many cases stealth is the best option, since you’re a frail dude, medkits and ammo are scarce, and those freaking T-800s can stand one hell of a beating. Some missions require you to sneak around those bots in closed environments, and I can tell you one thing: these moments are tense. This is when the game stops being an action title like Terminator 2 and starts acting like a horror title, much like the original Terminator. The excellent soundtrack, reminiscent of Terminator 2, improves the tension even further. If you’re out of plasma ammo, forget trying to deal with the bigger Terminators. Run for your life and try to get to the nearest crafting table.
Besides the main campaign, Terminator: Resistance Enhanced also features an Infiltrator Mode, in which you’re given the chance to control an actual Terminator against humanity. You’re as overpowered as you’d expect, and while this mode is far from deep in terms of story and mechanics, being able to mow down human enemies as the villain is a nice distraction when you want to take a break from the game’s main plot.
So far, I have been praising Terminator: Resistance Enhanced non-stop, but I’d be a madman if I told you this game is devoid of flaws. It has a fair share of them, as expected from a budget game trying to bite more than it can chew. Weirdly enough, I did not encounter bugs or glitches, and the game crashed just once, right after I had reached a checkpoint. I did not lose a single second of progress as a result, and it’s not even a game where you can freely save wherever and whenever you want.
The camera controls feel a bit wonky, never responding accordingly. However, you can get used to its lack of sensitivity after a while, but no, it doesn’t get better if you change the settings in the options menu. The melee mechanics are very underwhelming, turning the one-hit-kill Terminator Knife into a useless piece of garbage. There are also some issues pertaining to the sound design, as the mixing is utter garbage, and the voice acting is a mixed bag. You can notice the team didn’t have a big budget to hire a lot of competent voice actors, so some of the less important NPCs sound amateur as hell.
The main issue with this game, however, is how it looks. Sure, textures look decent, the framerate is great, and the Terminators look the part, but Terminator: Resistance Enhanced isn’t THAT good looking even for PlayStation 4 standards. It looks like tons of other Unreal Engine 4 games released during the last generation, with tons of reused assets and poorly animated human models that look more robotic than the actual T-800s.
Now, I do have to commend the team for taking advantage of the Terminator franchise in order to use simple Unreal assets, such as debris and industrial props, in a way that looks completely natural with the game’s setting. Just don’t expect for this game to showcase what the PlayStation 5 is capable of in terms of visuals. It does get the job done with its nonexistent loading times though, and it uses the DualSense’s adaptive triggers in minute, but effective ways.
Terminator: Resistance Enhanced is a shockingly competent title that deeply respects its source material (in some ways, even better than the producers of the latest Terminator movies), despite being janky and somewhat unpolished. You can clearly notice the developers love the franchise and worked hard in order to deliver the best they could with the limited resources at their disposal. It barely showcases what the PS5 is capable of in terms of graphics, but it’s still a nice improvement over its last-gen counterpart. Not only is this a great Terminator game, possibly the best Terminator game ever made, but it’s also a fairly competent first-person shooter with RPG elements in its own right.
Textures look decent, the Terminators look the part, and the framerate is great. Although, this is just a pretty refurbishment of what’s basically a lower budget Unreal Engine 4 game from the last generation. It just knows how to use its limited resources to its advantage.
There are some issues related to the jankiness of the camera, as well as the underwhelming melee mechanics, but this game features a very competent, albeit derivative, combat system. Its crafting, survival, and RPG mechanics helped improve the overall experience.
The soundtrack is downright fantastic, sounding exactly like the first two Terminator movies. The voice acting is a mixed bag, and while the sound effects aren’t bad, the sound mixing is absolutely terrible.
It might be janky and flawed, but Terminator: Resistance Enhanced respects its source material way more than any other Terminator-related product released after the second movie. It’s also a pretty competent Fallout-inspired shooter in its own right as well.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Terminator: Resistance Enhanced is available now on PS5.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Terminator: Resistance Enhanced was provided by the publisher.