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The Terminator Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 85%
The Terminator
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A few years ago Rockstar Games stunned critics and consumers alike with their video game adaptation of The Warriors. Gamers were justifiably skeptical, it had been a quarter century since the Lizzies, Destroyers and Hi-Hats had invaded movie theaters. Plus, most movie games are terrible; the sort of thing you actively avoid. But Rockstar proved everybody wrong, releasing a game that expanded on the movie's fiction, showing the origins of the gang and connecting with people in a brand new way.

The Warriors isn't the only movie game to expand on the fiction. A decade before Rockstar went street fighting; Virgin Interactive was blowing people's minds with The Terminator. This Sega CD action game is more than just a retelling of James Cameron's 1984 movie, it also delves into the war happening 40 years in the future. It delves deeper into a chapter that is only hinted at through flashbacks (or rather, flash forwards).

The Terminator (Sega CD)

You play Kyle Reese, hero of the movie and (spoiler alert) father of famed John Connor. He's been sent back to protect John's mother and defeat a big, mean robot that looks an awful lot like former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. If the big guy wins, Sarah Connor will die, John will never be born and Skynet will take over the future. Kyle simply cannot let that happen.

But before he can bother with big '80s hair and Madonna singing Like a Virgin, Kyle has a war to win. The first several chapters of The Terminator see our hero fighting robots and other futuristic baddies across fields of skulls. Eventually he makes his way into a factory, where he has to navigate the nonsensical level designs of 2024. A good chunk of the game takes place in this war torn future, filling in some of the gaps from the original movie. What's more, this is the stuff you never see in other Terminator games.

The Terminator (Sega CD)

The gameplay is reminiscent of the first few Contra games, with Kyle running, ducking, jumping and shooting his way to victory. The level designs are a lot more labyrinthine than Contra, with less of an emphasis on pure shooting. But don't get the wrong impression, this is still an action game and there are plenty of bad guys to take down. Just when you start to get sick of the futuristic warzone, the game dramatically shifts to the 1980s and offers players a whole new tone.

The various levels are sewn together using low-quality footage from the movie. It's hard to look at these twenty year old cinemas and be impressed, especially if you've recently watched the HD version on Netflix or Blu-ray DVD. Still, I appreciate the effort and it is a cool way to tell the story between action scenes.

The Terminator (Sega CD)

Thankfully the rest of the game looks better than the cinemas. Told through highly detailed sprites, The Terminator does an excellent job recreating both the 2020s and 1980s. The bosses are a little anti-climactic, but each stage has a unique look that perfectly fits the movie's style. Better yet, the gameplay is easy and responsive. There are plenty of weapon upgrades and grenades around, allowing players to add a little spice to the normal shooting. The Terminator is a sharp looking Sega CD game.

Virgin Interactive could have made a simple action game that only follows the events of the movie, but by exploring Kyle's army days we're given a better understanding of the hero. Plus, it's just fun to see both sides of the struggle, something you don't see enough of in the Terminator films. Not only is The Terminator a great movie tie-in, but it's also a must-own action game.
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