[This post is part of the Completionist series. Check out the other entries here.]
I often think that when the world’s machines inevitably gain sentience and rise up to enslave the human race, part of our punishment will be to repeatedly play video games like this. It makes sense. Not only does Terminator Salvation give artificial intelligence a bad name pretty much across the board, it would only take a couple of playthroughs to have us all begging our new overlords for the mercy of a quick death.
Perhaps that’s not entirely fair. At the very least Salvation has the decency to only last about four hours, and if you’re feeling particularly charitable you can at least describe it as functional. As a startlingly generic cover-based third-person shooter, it sort of works. A lot of emphasis is placed on flanking around enemies and firing a tiny pile of unimaginative, unsatisfying weapons at their obligatory glowing weak spot. There are scripted sequences on emplaced gun turrets and, of course, moments which have you defend a given location against several waves of murderous robots. There’s even a co-op mode.
Then again, John Connor (but not Christian Bale) moves like a crippled manatee and seemingly fastens himself to cover with duct tape and glue. The game is extremely picky about which positions you’re allowed to fire from while behind it, and disconnecting yourself from the various car wrecks and bits of wall is often more trouble than seems reasonable. Enemy and squad-mate AI is universally atrocious, the dialogue and story are both perfunctory in the extreme, challenge (even on the hardest difficulty) is virtually non-existent, and the environments are, without exception, small and unambitious little arenas of boredom. Even the co-op play is limited to split-screen, because of course it is.
If you can spare a rental and four hours, and if a Platinum Trophy or 1000 GamerScore is more important to you than living your life in a way that you won’t regret on your deathbed, then I highly recommend Terminator Salvation. If you have an ounce of sense, or place any kind of value on your time, money or limited oxygen, then I highly recommend you avoid it.