It’s weird to me that nobody has managed to make something of the Terminator, after the second movie. It’s a very interesting franchise, visually and narratively, build on some simple but very effective ideas. There’s time travel, there are post-apocalyptic backdrops and killer robots. It should be enough and it should be relatively easy to capitalize on the success the franchise had at its onset. It should be relatively easy, then, to create another piece of media that is at least decent. However, after the first two movies, nobody seems to be able to understand what makes this franchise special. Or, maybe, some creators do understand but lack the expertise or the means to succeed.
In this latter mentioned category falls the game Terminator: Resistance. A budget title that was released on January 7 2020, it was rough around the edges and old fashioned in many design aspects, but showed a love for the franchise and nailed the overall atmosphere.
Now, there’s an enhanced version for the PlayStation 5 that released on April 2021, that irons out some of the problems. With loading times that are significantly shorter and some boosts on performance, the enhanced edition is the best one for sure, even if it doesn’t address all the nuisances. The updated edition included a new mode too, a roguelike-like one that had us fighting for the “other side”, for the robots. It was short, cool, but plagued by the same annoyances more or less.
After the updated version, we have some new content in the form of a 4-hour long DLC called Annihilation Line that’s more of the same, mostly. If you enjoyed the main game, chances are you will like the new addition too. If not, it will not win you over.
This is a new story that takes place around the middle of the main plot of Resistance, branching in a new path with some new characters and happenings. It’s not a great story, but it’s decent standard fare to be used as background for a simple game. You can play without really caring about the plot; bad robots do bad things, good human survivors fight them, you go to save some hostages. That’s the gist of it. Oh, if you are familiar with the franchise, you will hear some name-dropping too. Bad enemy T-800 are doing bad things, good human survivors are led by Kyle Reese to save hostages. There is a fair amount of fan service here and it’s mostly enjoyable.
The developers’ love for the franchise is more evident by the overall audiovisual presentation. The sounds are reminiscent of the ones we heard in the movies, the music too and it’s also very good and atmospheric, the visual design of the post-apocalyptic places is spot on. It’s a shame then, that the characters are totally bland and forgettable. Everyone is interchangeable here, the dialogue is wooden and boring and there are some meaningless dialogue choices too.
Continuing on the meaningless trend, this is still a game that doesn’t know what it wants to be. There are many light RPG elements that serve absolutely no purpose, like crafting, leveling up, lockpicking, hacking etc. In the main game, it was still unnecessary. Here, though, those systems feel like extra burden for what is otherwise a standard shooter set on some decent open ended levels. The shorter time is to the game’s advantage for sure, making for a tighter experience this time around, but the many added systems are unneeded baggage. Also, the gunplay, even though it’s better now, it still can’t compare to other shooters and feels a bit left behind.
There are some improvements to be found, thankfully. The enemy robots are a bit more efficient, can aim better and are harder to destroy -as boring as their types still are. This way, the harrowing robots feel somewhat harrowing indeed, aided further by the better looking metal textures of the enhanced edition. The combat is slightly harder, the pacing is better, but the rest doesn’t make a good impression. The worst offender is still the mission design, which is really boring and uninspired. Also, some visual glitches are present, with robot heads turning frantically and walls turning invisible for no reason. The textures are a bit muddy, the character models wooden and the animations leave a lot to be desired. The game is in better shape, compared to the one we saw at its launch, but is by no means a triple A game, or even a double A one.
It’s simple, really: if you are a fan of the Terminator franchise and especially if you enjoyed -even a little- the game Terminator: Resistance, and if you know what to expect, you will enjoy the DLC. It’s not bad, it’s just a bit uninteresting and generic, but can be saved by its love for the source material and the way it expresses it. If you don’t care for the Terminator series, there’s nothing for you here. For better or worse, Terminator: Resistance is the best Terminator game, and its DLC is just more of it.