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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is based on the new Terminator movie, and that its release has been timed to coincide with and make the most of the tide of promotion leading up to the film. Many teens who see the movie will want to play this game, and vice versa. As in the movie, the game has plenty of violence in the form of gunplay and explosions. Humans yell, scream, and die, though no blood or gore is shown. It is free of sex, drugs, alcohol, and coarse language.
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What's it about?
Based on the film of the same name-- or, more accurately, based on characters from the film (the game is set a couple of years prior to the events of the movie) -- TERMINATOR: SALVATION has players exploring a machine-ravaged urban wasteland as John Connor, a member of a human resistance organization who is trying to rescue a group of trapped soldiers. The game wastes no time with back story, and assumes that players are well versed in the Terminator mythos (which is likely, given the franchise's popularity).
The action, which consists mostly of shooting rifles and grenade launchers and tossing grenades and pipe bombs, is seen from a third-person perspective. Players must work with their computer controlled allies (or another person, should they happen to be playing in co-op mode) to outflank their enemies and then target their weak spots. Depending on how adept you become in carrying out this tactic -- and which difficulty level you choose -- the game lasts between four and six hours.
Is it any good?
It seems clear that the only reason Terminator: Salvation exists is to cash on on the popularity of the movie with which it shares its name. It doesn't push any borders, nor does it introduce anything new to the third-person shooter formula. The cover and flank mechanic, which feels pilfered from the Gears of War games, is competent but unexceptional, having already been implemented in plenty of other shooters. That verdict applies to just about everything in the game, whether you're manning a turret in a jeep or fighting a big boss like a Hunter-Killer warbird; it's all been capably executed, but shows little evidence of originality or flair.
Post-Armageddon Los Angeles looks great, as do the beautifully rendered, action-packed cut scenes, but the atmosphere suffers from uninspired, lifeless dialogue (Christian Bale, Helena Bonham Carter, and many of the film's other major actors are, unfortunately, absent from the game's cast). Too bad, since a strong story might have made players want to experience it a second time in co-op mode, which has the potential to double the length of this very brief adventure. Best leave this one to die-hard Terminator fans and look to longer more innovative interactive experiences.
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