As a fan of the Terminator trilogy, I’m fascinated to see how the new movie will fare. I was equally intrigued to take a look at the iPhone game released to accompany the fourth installment in the movie series. Gameloft announced the release last week, and Terminator Salvation is now available to download (iTunes link) for $9.99.
I’m pleased to say that my sentiments echo the rave reviews the game has received on the App Store. It pushes the boundaries of third-person action games for the iPhone, bringing innovative concepts such as an intuitive “cover” system, various enemies and vehicles, and an excellent control mechanism.
The iPhone game was released shortly after a “leaked video” hit YouTube demonstrating the game in action. Whether a PR stunt or not, it serves as an excellent overview of what to expect in the game — both in terms of graphics and gameplay.
Terminator Salvation is visually impressive from start to finish, making full use of the iPhone’s processing capability. Environments are rich and detailed, recreating the atmosphere of the film as well as can be expected on such a small screen.
Cut-scenes are rendered using the same engine, with narrative provided through speech bubbles. (There’s no angry commentary from Christian Bale, unfortunately.)
The game adopts a natural-feeling control system. A virtual direction pad sits to the left, allowing you to walk forward, back, left and right. Dragging the screen allows you to look around the environment and set your targeting reticle on a suspicious-looking enemy.
An excellent cover system responds automatically if you move towards an item which the character is able to crouch behind or peek around. You can continue to aim while in cover, firing immediately as you move. This is a first for an iPhone game and really adds to the app’s realism.
A separate control system is used for mini-games, adopting a similar approach to the popular Labyrinth iPhone app. It makes use of the accelerometer, requiring you to solve a puzzle, thereby “hacking” a device in order to use it. Unfortunately, there is no way to calibrate the iPhone — you’ll need to play these puzzles with your device horizontal to stand any chance.
The game follows the storyline of the upcoming movie in which John Connor leads the human resistance against Skynet and an army of Terminator robots. You play as both John Connor and Marcus Wright at various points, each with their own unique abilities. Unfortunately, the plot of the game is somewhat difficult to follow, twisting and turning to the point where I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on.
Whilst playing through the nine levels on offer you’ll encounter 11 different types of enemy (each of which is overcome in a specific way) and drive a variety of futuristic vehicles. The choice of weapons is equally impressive and includes an assault rifle, a shotgun, a grenade launcher, a chain-gun and a surge cannon. Not for the faint of heart!
Each level offers a set of mission statistics upon completion. If you find yourself hooked on the game, it provides a good way to monitor your improvement when replaying a level.
For the asking price of $9.99, Terminator Salvation is a fairly short-lived affair. Blasting through the nine levels can be done in a couple of hours, after which you’re rewarded with a new Terminator character. You can replay the game at a slightly harder difficulty level with the new character, though it doesn’t add a great deal in terms of new gameplay experience or variety.
Terminator Salvation for the iPhone is a solid release that makes great use of the iPhone’s touchscreen and accelerometer. Graphics are outstanding, with gameplay that feels natural and is a lot of fun. Areas lacking include a fairly short, convoluted storyline and no audio commentary to better explain what exactly is happening.
If you enjoy gaming on the iPhone, Terminator Salvation is definitely worth a try. It may not be able to offer hours and hours of re-playability, but the time you do spend saving the world from various mechanical enemies is remarkably enjoyable.