Thursday, December 9, 2021

Terminator: Resistance Annihilation Line DLC Review

When I reviewed Terminator: Resistance back in 2019 I found its hapless waves of tin can kill-bots made for a disappointingly formulaic first-person shooter and yet, somewhat depressingly, probably still the best Terminator game that I’d ever played thanks to its slavishly rendered and movie-accurate post-apocalyptic aesthetic. Annihilation Line, a DLC campaign that sprouts off from the main story’s midpoint, is effectively more of the same. All of the enemies, bog-standard mission objectives, and the curiously Frogger-inspired hacking system are present and accounted for in this mindless trek through another series of crumbling concrete shooting galleries. On the plus side, its relatively brisk four-hour runtime means it’s over twice as fast.

Tagging along with Kyle Reese (sadly not the Michael Biehn version) for a sojourn behind Skynet defenses on a mission to rescue human survivors, Annihilation Line follows the same cadence of the main campaign: hero Jacob Rivers is shuttled from objective-based sandbox mission to linear, action heavy gauntlet run, to dialogue-heavy downtime at the Resistance’s hideout – rinse and repeat. Its short run time leaves no room for the light RPG-inspired moral choices from the main game, but its basic item-crafting and skill upgrade system are brought across unchanged. Your main game progress doesn’t copy over for the latter, but thankfully you’re given a surplus of points upfront to give you the running start that’s needed to tackle Resistance’s beefier late-game enemy types from the outset.

Reach for the Skynet

As was the case in the main campaign, the bulk of these mechanical menaces are equipped with armour that more closely resembles tinfoil than titanium. However, their Cyberdyne Systems firmware has seemingly been upgraded with deadlier aim, and I found myself far more reliant on cover and slightly more engaged in combat encounters as a result. This more considered approach to the carnage introduced some frustrating problems of its own, though, since often I’d lean out to shoot around walls only to watch my pulse rifle bolts slam into the invisible edges that extend out around objects in the ruined terrain instead of the targets that were in my sights.

Though slightly more threatening this time, the bulk of Annihilation Line’s antagonists are identical to those faced in Terminator: Resistance, from meandering robot spiders to the iconic skeletal squads of T-800s. There are a handful of new foes, but they’re more underused than your DVD copy of Terminator Genisys. The flying HK Aerial drones are easily avoided at first, then quickly dispatched once you get your hands on the laser-guided rocket launcher. Meanwhile the minigun-toting 600 Series Terminators which are marginally tougher than the T-800s, still go down in flames faster than Edward Furlong’s career in Hollywood.
The minigun-toting 600 Series Terminators... still go down in flames faster than Edward Furlong’s career in Hollywood.

There are a couple of new weapons too, and as a fan of the first two films I have to admit it was a thrill to get my trigger fingers on the laser-sighted AMT Hardballer pistol from the original movie (which was previously introduced in the free Infiltrator Mode DLC), along with the M79 grenade launcher from Terminator 2. But since pulse rifles were more effective against stronger enemies than the Hardballer, and M79 rounds were rare, neither weapon really left much of an impression beyond their initial jolts of nostalgia.

Walk the Line

While much of Annihilation Line is unremarkable, there are a handful of memorable moments. In one tense crouch-walk through a subway train, I was startled when switching on my thermal vision revealed intimidating lines of Terminators flanking either side, just moments before they lit up the carriage with a plasma-powered ambush that had me desperately sprinting for safety. In a later assault on Skynet, tagging robot sentries for a Resistance sniper afforded me the pleasure of causing T-800s to 404 from afar. And the impressive sight of a hulking Skynet excavator looming against an ashen sky was enough to briefly stop me in my tracks.

Occasions like these are the exceptions, though, because so much of Annihilation Line is spent churning through entirely forgettable tasks. The token escort mission, the crawl through a corridor stabbing robots with a circuit-scrambling electric shiv, the mainframe computers to hack, and nondescript enemy structures to plant bombs on. It all feels as templated as the umpteenth Terminator on the Skynet assembly line, and there’s little here that wasn’t already covered by the main game, which again, is not good.

These menial tasks might have been a little easier to bear if you had some interesting characters to keep you company, but instead the Resistance fighters you’re riding with are so uniformly lacking in personality it had me wondering if I was surrounded by a group of T-600s in disguise. At least you’re not forced into having awkward first-person sex with any of them this time around.


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