Friday, February 28, 2014

VGR Terminator 2029

War... War never changes...

Here's a Skynet/Human Resistance war simulator!

VGR: The Terminator: 2029 or simply Terminator: 2029
From Bethesda Softworks
Played on PC (DOS)
Also available on /

Type Simulation FPS
Year 1992

In the early 1990s, Bethesda Softworks acquired the rights to the The Terminator franchise. What followed was a series of very original and early FPS titles that helped establish the young studio and even ground the basis of some of their future hits such as The Elder Scrolls series and even the later Fallout 3.

They actually owned the rights to the Terminator license as far as video games go, and actually sub-licensed the rights for the home console videogames by Virgin.

The Terminator: 2029 is kind of a follow-up to their earlier 1990 Terminator game, in terms of engine. Although it's not related to it in either terms of plot or gameplay mechanics.
It's an entire new adventure in the Terminator universe, with its own distinctive ideas, tone and look.

Centered around the "War against the Machines", aka the Future War, Terminator 2029 is based on the Terminator universe  but no particular movie.

In fact for once this Terminator tie-in has no time travel element to it.

The story puts you in the shoes of a soldier placed in John Connor's Human Resistance. Part of a very small operative, the Special Operations Group.

After a raid, the humans were able to recover a combat assault unit and refitted it into an armor. Retitled "Advanced Cybernetic Exoskeleton" this A.C.E. Battle Armor will now turn you, a simple human soldier, into a one man army for the Resistance.

With this assault armor prototype redesigned to destroy Terminators - which appears to have been a possible precursor to the T-800 units - the Resistance will be able to stand a chance against the Machine and even fight them as equals.

The game takes place in the Los Angeles region.

But first, your adventure begins in a Resistance shelter...

Your goal? To attack the Machine's main headquarters, the Skynet Central Command. Under Colonel John Connor your aim is to destroy Skynet for good.

But first you will have to take on some secrets missions in the outposts...

First things first, in the secret Resistance HQ, you will have to create character profile.

While you never get to see the face of your protagonist, what with the game being a FPS and your character being inside an armor for the entire game, it's a nice little touch to put you in the shoes of a soldier in the middle of this futuristic war.

Whenever you get back at the HQ you can revisit your stats, save/load and whatnot.

Next stop - the mission briefing! Before leaving for the field you will always get a briefing recap in the war room with the non-playable characters. The game is heavily story-based and features lots of DOS-animated cutscenes.

There, several Resistance superiors will give you the next objectives and details regarding the next settings.

After that and before taking the ACE Armor to a test run (an actual training field/tutorial is also available in a simulation run) you get a final screen, the customization screen.

You can mount offensive and defensive items to several parts of your armor - the arms, shoulders and torso. You can mount weapons, health kits, etc.

The game starts with very basic limited stuff. Your equipment range at first from simple plasma cannons to fusion grenades and very limited healing abilities.

Throughout the course of the game you will obtain news ranks amongst the Resistance from sergeant to lieutenant, captain, major and finally colonel. Each giving you access to more and better weaponry.

What we have her is one of the earlier attempts at a First Person view. Since it predates Wolfenstein 3D, unlike id Software's title there's no real 3D involved (besides the rendering of the enemies sprites).

This means the visuals are here represented by flat 2-dimensional artworks.

You move over a grid system representing the map. The environment is represented by 2D art. You can move in only 4-directions, by angles of 90° degrees.

And as far as early 3D Dos games go, this actually kinda works... But from today's perspective it does take some getting used to.

Kind of like early dungeon crawler games, it represents a 3-D world picture by picture.

Since you play this Terminator-killer, the HUD represents several important stats such as quick shortcuts for your interface, highlighting threats, a map of the nearby foes around your location, life status, weapons equipped, etc.

It seems a bit cluttered at first, but it really was a step up from Terminator (Dos).

The game is about 8 missions long. Each contains a set of main objectives and secondary objectives given to you in the briefings.

The more you progress through missions the more weapons and gadgets are available to you, while getting closer to Skynet's main location. Which also means meaner enemies and more and more armed forces in your way.

The goal bein Skynet's itself, located in its orbital platform.

Several objectives are actually timed, which means you either prioritize those, but one way or another you won't be able to complete every possible missions so you better decide what you want to focus on. And if you return to base or lose too many of your objectives, it's game over man!

Several missions ranging from finding the whereabouts of soldiers who went missing to data retrieval, that sort of thing. Either out in the open spaces or in closed Skynet buildings.

But since the maps are huge you need to find those places first by using the coordinates on screen. You can check out the order status for the places of interest.

The enemies are actually quite numerous, there's about a dozen or so different foes. T-801 Terminator units, Hunter-killers, Heavy Assault Tanks and Ed-209 G-500s.

You also have to avoid killing other Resistance soldiers, although they might attack you first since you look like a machine. So it's up to you  the player to either attack them or not. (if you wanna be sure if they're actually humans and not "infiltrators", simply turn your back on them... if they shoot you, shoot back!)

Terminator 2029 is not really an action game in the traditional sense.

It's actually more of a "Future War" simulator.

Relying on strategy, tactic, careful planning and a bit of trial and error as well. It's the closest the franchise's ever got to an actual War of the Machines: The Video Game.

It's a pretty cool game all in all.

You have to be careful regarding your Battle armor and check its status from time to time. There's a very detailed damage interface on screen. You have to keep an eye on the radar AND the local map. You can also use some scan functions but I personally found those quite useless.

Sometimes it's better to simply run away to hide for a while, and heal yourself back up.

The game has some great midi music. There's a lot of themes that never or rarely repeat, so even if you have to replay a mission after a Game Over screen you will most likely always hear something different. It's nice to listen to different creepy Terminator-esque music. And, hey, it's rarely the case with these games but you actually get to listen to the actual Terminator Theme intact! Hooray!

The game also containts some gruesome death screen that get old after a while, but are always fun to watch.

Find where your objectives are, explore and seek the coordinates. Try a new set of weapons in the several slots of your armor - a fun and original experience all in all.

Overall, it's a really difficult game but a very original experience that makes a very unique use of the Terminator license.

Terminator 2029 was later re-released in a CD-enhanced version, the one I have which I'm actually reviewing here. It actually added audio speech, which is a nice touch.  

The Terminator: 2029 Deluxe CD Edition included the original game and added the extra "mission pack" (more on that below) as well as some slight minor differences, more enemies and new pieces of music in the actual game, while omitting the customization of the callsign from the original diskette release.

All in all, it's a highly recommended obscure entry in this long running franchise that any fan should at least try once even if the dated engine might take some getting used to.

At least, I find it to be the basis for a fantastic game if Bethesda would ever chose to revisit the series with today's technology! Ha, if only...
I give it:
2.5 / 3 Invaders!

VGR: Terminator 2029: Operation Scour 
By Bethesda Softworks
Type Expansion pack
Year 1993

Released a mere year later, while the crew at Bethesda Softworks was actually working on a proper sequel, "Operation Scour" is an expansion pack that added a new follow-up story and 12 new missions, for a total of 34 "objectives".

This add-on starts in the Resistance's new headquarters, in Washington DC. Bad is... you're the only one there, everybody else got stuck down in LA. Good news this time is that you have now access right away to all the weaponry from the last game, available from the start.

The plot moves forward the same way, you get new mission briefings from your now-distant leaders this time. Then it's up to you to follow the orders, focus on the missions you prefer to prioritize in these all-new sets of maps.

There are several new additions to the game.

First up the game starts with all the entire weaponry from the last game, all available from the go.

There are new foes. A couple of new enemies such as the Manta and The Guardian.

The story takes place after the destruction of the Orbital Satellite Platform. The objective is to get rid of Skynet's forces once and for all. After the destruction of what the Resistance thought to be the main Skynet headquarters, the enemies' forces quickly reorganized for some reason. It appears that Skynet's back online. And what is this so-called "The Guardian" system?...

Operation Scour also brings up new briefings and more dialogues.

Overall: While not as good and a "must" as the original game was, this extension is no less a fun add-on for fans of the original.

It doesn't add much and the environments mostly look the same, but it's a decent "mission pack".

These new stages are also much harder.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score! 

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