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SummaryAn 8-bit movie license that didn't go to waste? Believe it.
The GoodMost people will base their perceptions of this game on the first two levels, especially if they find themselves unable or unwilling to go any further. While the first level is not entirely true to the movie (or logic, for that matter) and the second level can be frustrating at first, it does get better.
The plot, excluding the first level, follows the plot very well with gameplay that is actually appropriate. Most of the game takes place in the standard side-scroller view. The only exception is the second level, which involves the drainage ditch chase, in which you try to survive while evading the T-1000. It can be frustrating until you get the hang of it, but aside from the graphics, it was actually pulled off very well. Graphics throughout the game aren't exceptional, but they more than get the job done. You can tell who's who, though the T-800 is the size of the other characters, dwarfed by the massive first boss. Though the still renditions of characters shown in the cinemas are simplistic by today's standards, they were rather impressive at the time and did much to help tell the story between levels. Other little touches that I thought helped bring the personality of the films to the game were the red overlay with data readout you get when pausing and the white noise screen that you receive at Game Over.
Control here is basic - attack and jump. In the first level, you'll have only your fists. Following the chase level, you'll continue to have a gun. What type of gun you have each level depends upon your performance in the previous, which is based on civilian casualties. The more people you shoot in the knees, the better your performance. Kill them, and your rating goes down. It may sound like a nuisance, but it doesn't take fast fingers to accomplish, nor does it take long to get used to. It was actually nice that they maintained this bit from the film, as it would have been a much simpler run-and-gun than it already is.
Rather than being a standard-issue game where you run through the level to fight a larger boss, there are mission-based levels. Some might argue that it was an excuse to lengthen the amount of time it took to beat the game, making it feel larger than it was, but it was really more of a precursor to games like Alien 3. While definitely easy, the mission-based gameplay provided a nice change of pace from the norm. In the third level, you'll simply search all of the floors of Pescadero Hospital to find Sarah Connor, while Cyberdine has you tracking down and placing explosives in the proper places before setting them off.
The BadThe first two levels are where the real problems lie. Rather than hunting down the guy and getting clothes at the biker bar, the T-800 shows up fully clothed, apparently needing to beat up everyone in sight in order to get a motorcycle. It wouldn't be such an issue if it weren't for the fact that his strength was reduced to half that of his opponents. It takes roughly 3-4 punches to knock down one of the baddies, who get up for a second dose. One thing I did figure out is that you can use the T-800's weight to take out groups of enemies by jumping up onto a truck or trailer and then jumping down onto all of them a few times.
The second level's main issue really is just the graphics. Everything is grey and black, not to mention simplistically drawn. However, it will be moving at such a quick pace that you might not notice. It does make it a little difficult, especially with the isometric view, which can be a little disorienting at first. You may find yourself replaying the boring first level more than once until you've memorized the layout of the drainage ditch.
The music isn't memorable at all, and I don't recall any of the soundtrack actually making it in. The sound effects aren't spectacular either, but they're not terrible, only bland.
Unfortunately, unless you're a fan of the series, there is very little replay value here. Once you've figured out the levels, the whole thing's a breeze.