Review by Melodytchi-Love
Reviewed: 09/27/13 | Updated: 06/22/16
Glitchy FPS with tedious item hunts
The Terminator: Rampage is one of Bethesdas first-person-shooter games in their Terminator series. It was released in 1993 around the time when many other similar FPS games were starting to be released ("Doom clones" and Wolfenstein clones). Sadly, Rampage is not a good game. It can't hold a candle to id Software's Wolfenstein 3D, which was released in 1992.
The story is that you are a soldier who has been sent back in time to destroy the Meta-Node, a machine that has wiped out the humans in the present. However, due to an error in the time travel, you are not sent to the correct time, and instead face a powerful Meta-Node rather than a weak one. Luckily, you end up in the Cyberdyne Systems Complex near an A.C.E. Battle Armor. Story-wise, this armor increases the soldiers resistance to damage. Your mission in the game is to fight through the Complex while collecting pieces of a special weapon, with the ultimate goal of defeating the Meta-Node.
For the story, there are a few animated cutscenes: an intro, a game over animation, and a final animation shown after completing the game. These cutscenes are okay, but a bit cheesy. Seeing that random guy go "Ahh!" in the most unconvincing way possible before turning into a skeleton in the game over sequence is hilarious.
Upon running the game, you are asked to enter your callsign (or name). On the menu, there are buttons for selecting one of three skill levels (easy, normal, and hard); starting, loading, and exiting the game; and for accessing the setup/options screen. On the setup screen, there are buttons for loading (again), saving, and deleting a save; selecting a control mode; adjusting sound volume; adjusting some detail settings; closing the setup screen; and exiting the game (again)...
The menu system obviously could have been made better. If the options menu is accessed from the main menu, the load game button there doesnt work; it simply says return to the main menu to load. It seems that the menus were designed so that one load button only works when not ingame, and the other load button only works while playing. How did they manage to program a menu system so poorly?
Gameplay is what one would expect from a Wolfenstein clone. You move through levels, shoot enemies, search for items, and so on. The levels are thematically divided into episodes. After finishing a set of levels, the level graphics change to a new theme. There is no episode selection option, however. Unless you have a saved game to load, you must start on the first level. There are no extra story text screens or cutscenes between levels; it's just one big slog. There is an intermission screen though, which shows statistics such as number of enemies killed.
The controls are very awkward and poorly set up. There is no option for customizing the control layout. It does however give an option for mouse or keyboard control. With keyboard control, the enter key is used to fire, while the cursor keys are used for movement. With mouse control, the left mouse button is used both for shooting and opening doors, and the right button is used to walk forward. The sloppy mouse control setup can result in wasting ammo when your weapon fires while you try to open a door.
In The Terminator: Rampage, you will likely spend more time running around lost than shooting enemies. The game quickly becomes an incredibly boring item hunt. Most of the levels contain a key and/or a piece of the special weapon (the V-Tec PPC). Searching for these items is time consuming, thanks to the horrible design of the maze-like levels. You will end up searching every single nook and cranny trying to find that one item left that you need in order to progress. Even ammo is ridiculously rare and hard to find, unless you know the specific location of some room somewhere that contains the ammo items.
All of this wouldnt be so bad if the levels were not sprawling mazes, and if the items were placed in less obscure locations. But no, the levels really are that bad: You will simply have no idea where to go, and be forced to trek through every boring room.
The item hunts can ruin the entire game. Even though grabbing a chain gun and mowing down Terminators might be fun at first, Rampage will more often than not test your patience rather than be interesting or entertaining.
Rampage at least features a small auto-map which can be displayed at the lower right of the screen. It shows the map of the surrounding area, and scrolls to follow your position. The map highlights important doors, and shows your X-Y co-ordinates. What the map doesn't show are item locations. Still, the auto-map is a lot better than nothing.
Another positive besides the map feature is that there is a variety of theme in the levels. Places such as a cafeteria, labs, and underground caverns provide a nice change of scenery, even though they all feel like the same tortuous mazes.
Overall though, Rampage feels pretty rushed. There are so many glitches and poor design choices. You can walk right through many decorative map objects. It is possible to get trapped in an object in some small areas. Sometimes, all of the weapons will stop working until you exit the game.
And the hit detection...the hit detection can be unbelievably bad at times. Shots will seemingly pass right through some enemies.
Yet another bad thing about Rampage is the atrocious frame rate. It's so choppy and slow. The engine they used for this game is apparently poorly optimized.
Rampage's graphics are better than Wolfenstein 3D's. Floors and ceilings have textures, and the art style is more realistic than that of Wolfenstein. The graphics are probably the only relatively good thing about Rampage.
The sound effects are decent, except for that beep that plays every single time you aim at an enemy. Ugh. As for music, Rampage at least features the memorable Terminator movie theme. During gameplay, mood-setting ambient pieces play, but the music suddenly switches to random fast-paced action tracks when fighting enemies. The constant sudden music changes are really jarring.
The Terminator: Rampage is not worth a playthrough unless you have a lot of patience. There are over thirty levels, and there's a boss fight at the end with some robot thing, but the whole game is tedious and buggy. After completing the game, there's nothing left to do in it, and there's no reason to play it again.
Rampage is pretty bad in my opinion, especially when compared to other first-person shooters at the time that were far better. Bethesda tried to imitate good FPS games like Wolfenstein 3D, but they simply did not succeed.
Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Product Release: The Terminator: Rampage (US, 12/31/93)
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