We are back, with the surprisingly forgotten Terminator: Future Shock.
Arnold Schwarzenegger probably did not know how right he was when he first uttered that famous line. For sure he has come back, always. Partly in a number of film sequels, but also in game form. Arnold may not be in so many of these games, the killer robots T-800 (the model Arnold plays in the movies) are definitely.
Just like with the movies, the range of games has been terribly uneven. Only the James Cameron movies (ie the first two) are good. And only a few of all Terminator games are something to hang on to. Bethesda was responsible for two of the more successful attempts to recreate the films in interactive form.
Bethesda made a number of Terminator games, which today are more or less forgotten. First out was The Terminator, 1991, based on the first film. The game has an interesting idea, where you can choose to play as either Kyle Reese and try to defend Sarah Connor, or you can play as the killer robot and try to kill her and Reese. It was very ambitious for its time, but also difficult to play, with sluggish controls and a slightly obscure interface. However, it was clearly better than the diluted action games Bethesda followed up with – The Terminator 2029 from 1992 and The Terminator: Rampage from 1993. That no one remembers those games today is because no one cared about them even then. They were simply right cash and dull in general. Not as deplorable as Terminator 2 to SNES or Amiga (different games, both lousy), but cash enough to earn the mothball bag they have been lying and brooding in ever since.
But 1995, a year before Quake, so Bethesda succeeded with the impressive feat of creating a fps with “real” 3D. By that I mean that the game mixed the typical sprites we saw in games like Doom and Wolfenstein at that time, with proper 3D models for, among other things, the enemies in the game. Your weapons were still sprites, and many objects in the gaming world as well, but it was still technically impressive for its time.
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What is it?
The most successful Terminator game from the 90’s?
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Post-apocalyptic FMV cringe
The game in question is, as the title of this article gossips about, the often overlooked The Terminator: Future Shock, and its sequel / standalone expansion: The Terminator: Skynet. Both games are buggy, have a bit clumsy controls and battles, and suffer from a somewhat strange track design. Especially in Future Shock it can sometimes be difficult to figure out where to go and what to actually do. That bit is clearer in Skynet, but that game is instead frustratingly difficult in a somewhat unfair way. The shooting is not precise enough to feel really fair when the game throws lots of enemies at you in narrow corridors without protection.
Okay, so Future Shock is perhaps not a classic, but it is definitely worth playing even today. Perhaps mainly as an example of a game that actually manages to put its finger on the Terminator feeling quite well, even though the technology really can not fully do the world justice. In many ways it is very reminiscent Terminator: Resistance, from 2019. So a game that appeals to me more as a design of the Terminator world than as a game, because as a shooter, it is nothing special. Not a waste either, but not directly memorable.
For those who want to see really deplorable FMV sequences where drunken actors try to play John Connor and Kyle Reese, we are also offered that treat. It’s really lovely (or awful, depending on how you look at it) FMV cringe of classic 90’s cut.
Skynet is has better track design and a little more feedback in the shooting than Future Shock, but at the same time it has a poorer structure in the structure. Future Shock starts with escaping from a concentration camp, and you have to fight leaner enemies before you get better weapons and have learned the game enough to take on a bunch of T-800s or flying HK ships. IN Skynet the developers reckon that you have played and mastered the first game, and throw yourself straight into the hot air immediately without further build-up. Both games have their pros and cons simply, but both are worth trying. The atmosphere is surprisingly good, despite the fairly primitive graphics by today’s standards.
Future Shock and Skynet deserves to be mentioned a little more often when summarizing the fps story. They may not have reached the same heights as ID Software or 3D Realms games, but they did interesting things before both Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. It’s not just the fact that the game tried on real 3D. In addition, you could both jump and duck, go into different buildings, not to mention that game had a dedicated button for grenades. Future Shock was ahead of its time in several ways. It may be a bit shaky, buggy and generally uneven, but also extremely ambitious and very lovable.
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