It’s not uncommon for franchisees to lose their way from the initial lore that made them legendary in the first place. Sometimes a filmmaker is just lucky and catches lightning in a bottle. If he manages to catch it again with a follow-up movie then he’s just a legend at that point.
James Cameron did so with Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The same cannot be said for the movies that followed in his steps though.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to capitalize on the success of an original concept. And any attempts to do so fall by the wayside.
Case in point ask any horror fan which is the best Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie and they’ll point back to Tobe Hooper’s very first film. To my knowledge there have been 7 movies to follow TCM and, though, admittedly, some are fun to watch and entertaining, none of them come close to the original’s raw style and horrific grit.
It’s not easy to build upon success like that without just (exhaustively) repeating the formula rather than adding to it, allowing it to grow without it getting weird.
It’s also not uncommon for fans to find and latch onto mediums – outside of movies – as true successors to the legends they grew up loving.
One more example before moving on – HELLRAISER.
Hellraiser has suffered through enough sequels. Many of them were never intended to be Hellraiser films in the first place, but in order to keep the franchise’s license – and, not to mention, for the studio to sell really shitty horror movies – they shamelessly slapped the infamous Hellraiser title and a Roman numeral at the end of it to inferior projects and put Doug Bradley back in the makeup to appear as Pinhead in one or two scenes.
Most Clive Barker fans know these aren’t true Hellraiser films. They don’t match the lore Barker established.
But then in 2011, BOOM comics released Clive Barker’s Hellraiser that followed the story of little Kirsty Cotton as she seeks out to complete her hellish journey with the Lament Configuration and the insidious Order of the Gash. This comic book run is sensational and a must-read for fans of the first two films. Much like how Halloween (2018) works for Laurie Strode these comics work for Kirsty and goes into some amazing and unexpected places but feel so genuine and authentic that many fans – myself included – consider these to be the lost sequel we all deserved.
The comics are so well done that even Clive Barker himself calls them the true Hellraiser III.
Sometimes we find better continuity outside of the films.
In today’s case, it’s in a video game.
Released back in 2019, Terminator Resistance sadly passed under the radar and was not well-liked by critics. But slowly it’s been finding a rampant fan base of late, and, like the nuclear flood of Judgment Day, I’ve been swept up in the pure metal and might this game has to offer.
There have been some noteworthy Terminator games in the past. Pretty sure some of your guys fed plenty of quarters to that beloved Terminator 2 arcade cabinet. How could we not play that thing for hours? Our first mission was set in the dystopian warscape where man fights machines to the death.
Damn that was cool! That’s the thing that I always remember most from that game. But to be fair, Terminator, though built for great games, doesn’t have the best record for good games. I think that could be why TR passed by all of our notice.
And if it weren’t for me being such a fan of Civvie 11 over on YouTube I may have never played this game and missed out. Civvie gave it a good review and I immediately went out to get it. And right now it’s available on Steam, Xbox, and PSN. For $40 it’s not a bad way to spend your weekend.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way and answer the most important question. Is the game good? Yes. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but holy shit it is very good. It’s a shame it wasn’t given a bigger budget or more time to work out a few animation bugs or included a more open world base to walk around in. These are minor gripes, and at times it feels like it’s a Terminator game set in Fallout. I swear I kept getting Skyrim vibes while playing it though.
What makes this game great though is the intense nostalgic morphine jolt you’ll get pumping down your retro feels while playing this game. This is a project built upon love and admiration for the first two Terminator movies.
The game menu starts playing the classic Terminator theme, and yeah, ok, that feels good. But soon as you choose to start playing you are thrown directly into the nightmare scape of that violent new world where machine armies cross abandoned cities to terminate all human existence. You are part of the resistance and fight for John Connor!
Music from the original movie will start playing as you duck away and hide from T-800 troops marching sardonically through the night. It looks just like how Cameron filmed the war scenes too. I had moments when I forgot I was playing a game and felt like I was part of the movies.
Yes, I said you have to hide from T-800 soldiers because, like in the movies, you start off with weapons that are not able to take one down. You are really up against an army of Terminators and your choices have consequences.
And your choices do have consequences. In your fight for the future, you can build friendships and later be responsible for their deaths or survival.
Game mechanics include crafting your own weapons, skill learning that will make you a master lock picker and/or give you the ability to remove proximity mines and then use them against the metal assholes wanting to kill you. I can’t deny how satisfying it is to set a trap and see a T-800 walk right into one of my mines and KABOOM!!!!
But you gotta be picky over which skills you want to build up first.
You can also hack turrets for some unexpected little WTF moments. Early in the game, I hacked one and it ended up taking own an HK Aerial while I was off doing my thing. I watched it shoot down one of those things and it crashes to pieces! Then I got to go loot the fuck out of its wreckage,
Who’s a good little turret? Yes, that’s right. You are.
You start off with your basic bullet-based weapons that can take down smaller machines. And you do get a pretty sweet shotgun that gets things done nicely. As you advance you start to carry more sophisticated weapons like a plasma rifle. But then you get some of the biggest and baddassiest weapons like the purple glowing plasma weapons seen in the movies.
You’ll be tasked with taking down an HK Tank and a few of those flying Hunter Killers too. Pipe grenades come in handy in a clutch and you’ll even face off against the Infiltrator, the Arnold character Kyle Reese sees in a nightmare in the first movie, the one who invades the bunker.
And that’s where this game really outdoes itself and excelled over my expectations. From the music, the lighting, the sound effects, and the overall look of everywhere you go and everything you fight. It’s all rooted in the Terminator’s lore and makes you feel entirely swallowed up in the future world Cameron introduced us to.
Story-wise you are the one who gets ahold of the CPU chip making it possible to reprogram a T-800 unit to serve as protector…you feeling T2 yet? And I couldn’t contain my stupid glee when I spoke with John Connor for the first time. But then, towards the finale of the game, you actually meet the man himself. And guess what? It’s the real Jon Connor! The guy we see at the beginning of T2 Judgment Day.
Not stupid Nick Stahl or that other moron idiot fuck from Genysis. We stand before the real Connor,
You join the fight on the frontline and punch a hole straight into the fields outside Skynet’s HQ. Gotta say standing in front of that damned pyramid felt intimidating.
Yes, time travel elements are used in the story, just like a good Terminator plot should have, but is not the main drive. At no point do you get tossed back into the ‘80s or ‘90s. You start in the war and stay there for the whole game.
And because of that, and thanks to the perfect atmosphere, music, and story it really does play as the conclusion to the first two films we didn’t realize we needed. I think deep down every fan wanted a movie based on the future war. One that would lead up to Kyle Reese being sent back in time, one that would involve the hijacking or a Terminator CPU and the T-800 protector. All of that is in this game.
The game ends with you standing with John Connor at the TDP, or ‘time machine’ if you will. Kyle has already been sent through and so has the T-800. So you end at the beginning of the events of Terminator 1 and 2, tying the knot and making you feel 100% complete lore-wise.
I’m not joking You could finish this game and then watch the first two movies back to back and feel nostalgic seamlessness.
And expect a buttload of Easter Eggs. In one mission you have to invade a medical facility where Skynet is doing some bad experiments on people. You walk into one room with a dead human subject left in the chair. And it looks exactly like Robert Patrick…the fucking T-1000!
It left me feeling dazed and awed. Like what the hell were they doing in here? Is this man THE roots of the T-1000? Their model for the next stage of Terminators? The game has moments like that everywhere though!
As a fan, I’m very satisfied with it. I’m playing through again hoping to see anything else I may have missed. If you’re a fan of the Terminator and a gamer you won’t want to miss out on this. For many of us, this is the truest sequel to Cameron’s immortal lore.
In closing this really does feel like the true successor to T2, what T3 should have been. A story set in the future and that leads up to the time-traveling events of the first couple movies. A completed trilogy set in past, present, and the future. This game is a huge accomplishment and compliments the lore beautifully.
Go play it! Play it violently!!!