Grin, the developers behind Terminator Salvation, have some pair of balls, let me tell you! To release this game with a full retail price is just plain cheeky.
The longest this game might take you to complete is about four hours, but even then you'd be taking your sweet time. That is embarrassingly short for a game that has the full $119.95 price for admission; and based on the fun factor of the actual game, I'd have a tough time even recommending it as a rental.
You play as John Connor, who has yet to become to leader of the resistance in the war against Skynet. The game doesn't follow the story of the movie, but rather is a prequel to it. The general idea is that there are three men trapped behind enemy lines, and John decides he has to go and rescue them. Oh and it doesn't matter how many people die on John's quest to rescue these three men (who are unimportant by the way) because it's a matter of principle. Apparently.
Unfortunately the story doesn't progress into something more interesting after that, it's just a rescue mission and then the game ends.
Sadly, the gameplay is just as unimaginative as the story. It's your basic third-person shooter, and because you are fighting armoured machines, it is important to get behind and flank them. Either you can do this, or you can distract them while your AI squad-mates do it. At least, that's how it is meant to work; in reality however, the AI isn't as helpful as it should be. There will be a lot of times when they won't shoot the damn things no matter how good a shot they have.
The game quickly becomes repetitive and uninteresting.
In fact, everything about the game seems to show the developers were thinking small. There's about four different types of enemies (two of which have pretty much the same characteristics, but just look a little different), five types of guns and two grenade types. The environments all look the same and the graphics are nothing worth mentioning. The sounds made by the weapons are barely noticeable, and the voice-acting is something I would hardly consider worthy of having the word "acting" attached to.
Terminator Salvation follows a simple pattern of cutscene, two to five minutes of gameplay, cutscene, boring loading screen. Seriously, you keep seeing a load screen every few minutes, and it definitely gets both annoying and distracting.
The few saving graces of the game involve decent on-rail shooting moments, typically whilst speeding down highways or within subway stations. There's also a co-op mode which is split screen only and has no online support. However, my favourite part of the game is the Heads Up Display (HUD) used to communicate moving from cover to cover; this is actually handled very well. The animations are smooth, and best of all it's very clear which cover you are choosing to move in to next. I actually hope other games in the future copy this HUD communication system as it was simple, quick to understand, and made moving from cover to cover easy.
Unfortunately, it's a pretty sad day when a HUD is someone's favourite feature of a game, and a Terminator action game at that!
If this had been released as an Xbox Live Arcade or PSN title at $50 I would have understood it. Sure, it still would have been kinda boring, but at least it would have been a quality title for that kind of gaming market. The reality though is that this is being marketed as a full priced retail product and it is just not worth it, not by a long shot.