Review by Count_Knobula
A thoroughly enjoyable experience that was overshadowed by Quake.
The Terminator: Future Shock
The Terminator: Future Shock was released in 1995 and was developed as well as published by Bethesda Softworks. It was powered by the XnGine. A powerful (at the time) graphics engine which was able to produce an unprecedented amount of 3D content. The games environment was nearly all three dimensional. The game was large, interactive and a lot of fun. It was also the first game to start the popular precedent of using the mouse to control the players view, a staple in todays FPS games. This game would be much better known if it werent for the fact that very soon after its release, another even better game was released: Quake. This review is being written in 2007 with a view in line with the games and hardware at the time. Anyhow, this is a superb game whatever time youre in, (as well as its expansion pack Skynet) lets get on with the review.
This game is set in the future war envisioned in James Camerons Terminator movies. With the player taking the role of a man who has escaped a slave labor camp (burning corpses of fellow humans in the service of Skynet, the all-knowing all-powerful Artificial Intelligence that has spawned an army of its very own) and joined the human resistance, led by John Connor. You will cross vast areas of post-apocalyptic cities and wasteland, you will fight machines of great power and take on the role of savior of humanity. Easy peasy.
At the time, the amount of 3D objects in view during gameplay was out of this world. The game was almost completely 3D with the exception of some sprites for things like collectible objects like ammo and small pieces of scenery. The only letdown is probably the resolution. Its rather low, but can be upped to 640x480 with installation of Skynet (the games expansion pack). This makes the game a lot nicer to look at.
I would say this is an area where the game does very well though does not excel. These were fairly early days for CD ROM usage (games were still being released on floppy disks also) and developers were just realizing the potential for properly sampled sounds. The sound effects are probably the best part, including environment sounds. The sounds of weapons fire, enemy movement (robots), jets overhead as well as the car you drive are all high quality. The music in the background is atmospheric though nothing to truly remember. What would have been nice would have been voice actors for the mission briefings and radio conversations. Its a little too much to ask for a product of that time, but it would have further enhanced the immersive quality of the game.
This is where the game is special. Straight away you notice that the game is controlled primarily by the mouse, whereas all games of this type were controlled solely by the keyboard. This gives you an excellent amount of control over your movement and aiming your weaponry. The levels are large with lots of goodies (and baddies) to be found. For example, there are many wrecked buildings of varying sizes lying around. Many of them can be completely ignored in favor of heading on with your mission. However every single one can be entered and explored. This could mean you find a little beaten up gas station with a few rooms to be explored where you might find some useful items (or perhaps a few enemies) or a large apartment building with floors and floors to be rummaged through. Often your efforts will be rewarded with very useful ammunition or sometimes an extra weapon. The game is great fun to play, its not just a regular FPS game, there is an exploration element to the game. Then there is of course the vehicles. In several levels you will drive an all terrain jeep-like car with a powerful laser cannon and rocket launcher mounted on it. These make for fast-paced levels where you cross vast distances while engaging in plenty of fighting. The other type of level is when you are flying the HK (a stolen and reprogrammed VTOL plane-like vehicle) to different objectives and fighting Skynets own flying armada.
I enjoyed this game greatly. It was a challenge, to be sure, but there was plenty to do and the gameplay was fun. A classic that was truly overshadowed by Quake (though Quake is a cracking game) that deserves lots of praise and I feel I should at least do that through this review.
Product Release: The Terminator: Future Shock (US, 12/31/95)
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