Special thanks to Gameworks in Schaumburg for giving us the opportunity to play and review newly released arcade games. Gameworks is one of the few locations to feature Terminator: Salvation with the full 100" screen.
2009 brought legions of rabid Terminator fans the sequel they had simultaneously longed for and feared, Terminator: Salvation. The film itself received mediocre reviews…it wasn’t the critical hit the studio had hoped for, but it was leaps and bounds above the abomination that was Terminator 3. However, as Terminator is such an iconic brand, such a release was bound to be accompanied by as much merchandise and cross-marketing as possible. As a result, we are presented with Terminator: Salvation, the Arcade Game.
Some of you may remember the old Terminator 2 arcade game, a rail shooter in which you lay waste to wave after wave of vicious robots intent on killing you and the rest of the human race. Terminator: Salvation is essentially a 21st century upgrade of that game, with all the bells and whistles one would expect. As the game begins, you are given a choice of 1 of 3 missions, in which you play a member of the human resistance crawling amongst the debris of a post-apocalyptic future, killing as many Terminators as you can along the way. The objectives differ, from rescuing hostages to strategically placing explosives in a Skynet base, but as the game is a rail shooter you needn’t worry about where you’re headed, so long as you survive, it will take you right where you need to go. You still have a bit of control as to where you’re looking, though, so you’ll have to stay alert and watch your periphery, or you’ll soon have an angry robot just outside your field of vision firing a minigun into your kidneys. Your main enemy will be the traditional bipedal Terminators, though you’ll also have to fight your way through all manner of Skynet meanies…T-7 walkers, the terminator cycles, swarms of little robotic spiders, and even giant aquatic Terminator worm beasties stalking the sewers. Throughout all 3 missions you’ll be dogged by one of the enormous Harvesters, and must take it on a few times in what amounts to boss battles. As it reaches for you, time will slow down and you have to hit several specific targets within a set time frame to repel its attacks, or take massive damage.
The arcade cabinet comes in a few different iterations, the highest-end version being the giant 100” screen, by far the best way to view the stunning graphics. The sound effects and music is straight out of the movies, pumped with adequate bass by the speakers set into the gun holsters at your feet…meaning that when the Harvester reaches for you, and makes that creepy, menacing metal howl from the film, you’ll feel it in your bones. The gun itself is a sturdy plastic assault rifle tethered to the speaker base, with a button near the barrel to fire the grenades you acquire throughout the levels. When reloading in the game, you have the choice of firing off-screen in the standard light-gun way, or slapping the bottom of the cartridge on the gun as if you were slapping in a new magazine. Granted, firing off-screen seems to be a little faster, but is far less satisfying.
If you are even a moderate fan of the Terminator films, or just a fan of virtually blowing things up, you owe it to yourself to give the Terminator: Salvation arcade game a spin, especially on that gorgeous 100” screen. Be sure to bring a friend, though, as the grim streets of our dark future are pretty rough, and unless you are John Connor incarnate, you probably won’t last too long as a single player. Don't worry, it's only the future of human existence riding on your shoulders. No pressure.