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Published on July 31st, 2015 | by Corey Milne

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Come With Me if You Want Good Terminator Games

There might only be two good Terminator films, but there are zero good Terminator games. No one has ever made a good Terminator game. Not one. Robocop Vs Terminator on the Sega Mega Drive was a cracker, but that was just as much, if not more of, a Robocop game. So it doesn’t count. If we keep relying on film tie games we’ll never bring one of film’s most enduring villains to an imitation of life on consoles. Do not despair though. There is a chance. I have traveled from the dark future of 2023, where Terminator: Genisys – Nuclear Dawn – Robot Vacation 3 is premiering, to tell you how to avert disaster. I can also assure you that I am quite naked, but that’s more of a personal choice rather than any limitations in time travel technology.

The solution I propose is a simple one. After a cursory Google search it is clear that I am not alone in strolling down this particular line of thought. We need to Alien: Isolation the Terminator. Much like their games, the Alien and Terminator films follow a very similar evolution. Both franchises started off firmly rooted in the horror genre. 1984’s The Terminator and 1979’s Alien both feature hidden, unknowable, and relentless stalkers that deal in violence and death. They exude an ever-present menace that gets under the skin. Then comes Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Aliens, which bring the action, explosions and classic one liners.

We like shooting guns so it is unsurprising that games have mostly drawn from the second films in each respective franchise. Yet just like the xenomorphs, Terminators have been victims of diminishing returns ever since. Something Skynet is quite powerless against. They’re just not that scary anymore. They’re no longer a threat. They’re just not fun to be with.

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The problem with The Terminator action game is from the very start, developers must neuter the enemy to facilitate the experience they are selling to players. “Yes,” they’ll say sitting around the boardroom table, “the Terminator is an unstoppable killing machines but players expect to shoot hundreds, if not thousands of them over the course of our campaign. So they’re going to have to be your bog standard cannon fodder, but shinier. With Austrian accents.” Then Ed-209 bursts into the room and machine guns one of them for an inordinate amount of time.

Wait, wrong franchise. Sorry.

Terminator needs to go back to basics. We need to recapture the thrill of the chase. Knowing a remorseless killing machine, that cannot be reasoned with, is on your tail. That you simply cannot stop it because there’s not a steel mill in sight. It will not stop until it shoots you in the head, and then shoots you five more times for good measure.

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The Terminator would make a great stealth/chase game. Set it in a city, this way there’s plenty of places to hide, car chases to be had and any violence the player commits is just as likely to draw the attention of local law enforcement as well as the Terminator. Have it so the identity of the Terminator remains hidden to ramp up the tensions and paranoia. This is essentially what the game based on The Thing tried to do back in 2002. The Thing’s video game adaptation was ahead of its time, but ultimately failed because the technology just wasn’t there yet. It’s here now though, and we shouldn’t let it go to waste.

A successful Terminator game would need to strip the T-800 back down to its metal endoskeleton and instill a bit of life into those metal bones. We need to embrace our vulnerability and fear the future. I wouldn’t say no to someone having another crack at The Thing either.

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About the Author

Corey Milne has been into video games ever since he went on an adventure with a bandicoot. Other interests include history, science fiction and Judge Dredd. An Irishman living in Scotland, he is attempting to make a living from writing to justify his masters degree. He can be found cradling a Guinness on Twitter @Corey_Milne



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