Friday, 2 November 2012

The Terminator 2029 (MS-DOS)

Welcome back! It's time for the second FPS based off The Terminator.

The Terminator 2029 title screen MS DOS
I'm being super fancy and playing the slightly enhanced CD version that came with the Operation Scour expansion pack.

Unlike the first The Terminator, this game takes place in the war against the machines. It's going to be chocka with Terminators, hovering H-Ks and laser tanks crushing mountains of skulls. Sounds pretty cool!

Quite a few animated GIFs in this post! Let the page load and read it slowly. :)

Argh! He's got red eyes! Red eyes! It's a Terminator! Shoot him! SHOOT!

Oh, he's just a bloke with scary red glowing goggles.

"Sector command, this is Phoenix Team One. We are in position and awaiting a go..."

Hey! I was promised speech! All I'm hearing is some mushy 'mmm-mmm-mmm-*kssshk*' sound effect! At least the Terminator theme is intact this time, and realised nicely too.

"Phoenix Team One, you have a green light and are clear and naked. GOOD LUCK..."

Naked? I hope not.

Phoenix Team One is ordered to breach the outer wall defenses of Skynet Control Nexus.

So this game's about infiltrating the Skynet Control Nexus? (Which is most definitely a physical THING as it should be and not software?)

While Phoenix Team One blasts a hole in the side of the SCN, I take control of John Connor's Phoenix Team Two and save the universe? I can dig it.

Wall is breached and Phoenix Team Two enters Control Facility.

I like how we've got so little faith in our piss-poor guns, we don't bother taking up defensive positions around the door. If there's an army of Terminators on the other side of this door we're going to die anyway, so let's pose!

And...

Phoenix Team Two recovers Combat Assault Unit.

Whaaat?

The last vestiges of the human Resistance infiltrated Skynet in order to recover... something that looks like a mixture between RoboCop and Boba Fett?

It's cool and all, but there's no way we're getting out of here alive, never mind carrying that thing along with us!

Pow! Scene missing.

We WERE going to destroy Skynet and end the war, but we got distracted by the shiny thing we found and decided to let Skynet off with a caution instead.

This is the main menu. Guess what each of the objects in the room does and you win!

The big door leads to the Mission Briefing, but first I need to 'generate a character'. Is this more like an RPG then? How do I 'generate a character'...? Is it the big computer screen? Yes, it is!

I am Sergeant Kyle Reese, codename 'Iron Wolf', currently attached to Special Operations Group, C.O.: Col. John Connor. Evidently not a very busy man, if I have time to go on DeviantArt and find myself a sword-through-a-Terminator-skull picture to use as a desktop background.

Take a look at the map from the first game. LA's hardly changed at all in 45 years!

This is my boss. He's got proper voiced dialogue now, unlike the guy in the intro. Hi, boss.

He tells me that the war has escalated to the point where they can't train me in the new armour before sending me on my first mission. I don't know if it's possible to escalate a war beyond humans being hunted to extinction by killer robots in the aftermath of a nuclear world war, but whatever.

Wait, I get to wear the armour right from the start? That's awesome. Gimme, gimme, gimme!

I thought it was going to be like ESWAT and I'd have to spend hours at the start of the game finding the missing pieces of the suit, gathering engineers to repair it, and finally stealing a power source before I could wear it.

The downside is that they're sending me out there alone.

Oh, it's you from the intro! You're really not a Terminator after all, what a relief.

I appreciate the effort to set the scene, but this briefing cutscene is going on way too long. Every time I think they're finished, they introduce another character, wish me luck (again) or add another mission objective. It's hard to remember everything they're saying.

They all sound like they're reading off an autocue, which is distracting. Every so often they'll suddenly stop and start again mid-sentence.

"Do not under any circumstances throw grenades while facing a wall or some other structure."

I think this one's been reading my posts.

I've got a couple of questions for you guys before I go.

I've been reading the game manual and it says that the A.C.E. Battle Armor has to be linked directly into the operator's nervous system via a Cyberdyne Systems T800-E Direct Neural Interface. Is that a good idea? I'm no sciencer, but it says it causes 'potentially irreparable brain damage'!

A.C.E. Battle Armor activate!

Complete with blinking lights on a blue grid, just for you Ray.

You probably guessed it, this is where I can mount weapons or equipment on each of the six hardpoints of the armour.

How about Fusion Grenades on one side and "Phased Plasma Cannons in the 40 Watt range" on the other?

Or, for the more cautious soldier:

Medikits everywhere. I am the Super Sci-fi Medi-bot Samurai!

My mission is to rescue a squad of Resistance soldiers who went missing during a data retrieval mission and then defend a relay station against H-Ks. Are you ready?

Hah! This is incredible.

The game restricts your facing to the four compass directions, like Dungeon Master and Death Mask, and it's got the mouse-within-screen targeting from Behind the Iron Gate. It's the worst of all possible controls, smashed together. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself.

Unlike Behind the Iron Gate, I start off with the Automap. I'm sure the C.O. told me where I was supposed to be going, I wasn't paying attention. He specifically told me that I didn't need to write it down!

It's a Terminator!

Let's see how much of an ace-up-my-sleeve the ACE Battle Armor really is. Use the F-keys to set weapons into the Left and Right mouse buttons, move the cursor over there and...

BANG.

No wonder the T-800 wanted these Phased Plasma weapons in the first film, they're awesome. He'd have needed them if Sarah Connor was as difficult to kill in the film as she was in that game. They've got regenerating ammo too, so no ammo scrounging for me!

And speaking of the first game, there's the Hollywood sign! And there's music! Beautiful, delicious, tense MIDI music.

OI, you! I'm on your side! What do you think you're playing at?

Huh, he could be an infiltration Terminator. There's no way to know. The radar at the bottom thinks he's an enemy. I could Scan him, but I don't have a scanner on me.

Retreat!

Let's stop for a second and fiddle with the sat-nav. One of us has to know where we're going. Primary target, recover telemetry... unknown!? That's just great.

Terminators! Do something! It's damn difficult to dodge without side-step. The main menu let me reconfigure some of the main controls, but there were tons of extra controls that I couldn't change. I've ended up with a key-config mish-mash which seems to use every key on the keyboard in some way.

These guys are totally cheating! How come I'm restricted to jumping between tiles and they can move freely?

I think I'm dead.

I've completely lost track of what order these screenshots are supposed to go in.

Although it's a massive arena with tons of hiding places and half-destroyed structures, the artists have only drawn a couple of wall styles, so the level looks absolutely identical no matter where you stand.

Is that the radar station I'm supposed to be defending? The planes look like they're attacking it, but they could be attacking some Resistance members who are trying to protect it. It's all very dark. I'm going to leave it alone and find something more obviously dangerous to shoot at.

MUSHROOM OF DOOM!

The Mushroom of Doom starts firing lasers at me. Either this is a Skynet-controlled guard tower or a stray blast of mine hit a Resistance member and they've turned against me. Either way, it's annoying me and I'm going to shoot it up.

Damn thing takes thousands of hits to destroy and there's no auto-fire on the PPC guns. Bethesda owe me a new mouse.

And behind the Mushroom of Doom...

It's a doorway. It says I can go down, but I'm not sure if that's such a good idea.

The level began with me opposite one of these doors. I entered it and it ended the level. I felt really guilty, because although Merlin was a little angry I'd not completed the objectives, the C.O. was very understanding and said I just needed some more training in the armour. And the game carried on, just like Star Crusader.

In we go:

This place is huge!

Where too now, I wonder?

There's two floors to the facility and it's full of identical rooms filled with... absolutely nothing.

There's a half-dozen dead Resistance fellows here. That's one mission complete! I've found them, and they're dead! Hooray!

Then I thought again. They're dead, but where's the data? I'm gonna get a whoopin' if I come back home without it.

So there I spent half-an-hour walking around the room looking for the dropped disk, checking my Orders menu, trying to stand on the correct co-ordinates, standing on each tile and facing every direction. I had a go at clearing out every Terminator from the facility, but after another half-an-hour I figured they were infinite.

You've got to stand on the correct Resistance member's body and a very easily-missable message comes up in the corner asking you if you want to take the data disk.

Picking up the disk made Terminators appear everywhere.

There was no way I could take them all on in the open space, the sneaky gits kept hiding in my 45-degree blind spots. They've damaged most of my weapons and reduced my health to nearly nothing. The ACE has an auto-repair system, but you can't use your map or fire your weapons when it's active, it works incredibly slowly and doesn't heal your character directly so I'm hiding, hoping the Terminators don't figure out in I'm here.

I sort-of know where the exits are, but it would be really, really, really helpful if the exits were somehow labelled, or if there was some other type of metal wall I could use as a landmark.

I shouldn't complain though. If anybody's going to build an unfriendly rectangular building full of identical, unmarked metal corridors, it's going to be an army of bloody robots.

Gah.

Take twenty-one... Action!

I didn't give it credit where it was due. The Orders menu, if you can figure out how to use it, does tell you where the mission objectives are, more or less.

I found my way back to the radar tower and shot down all those nasty H-K's as if I knew what I was doing. Skynet got bored after the first five or six ships and the Resistance called it a victory and called me home.

"I must commend you on your performance. It's quick thinking like yours that will save us in the end. You've been promoted to Sergeant Major."

WOO! Hope you don't mind if I do a dance, boss. I've been stuck running around out there trying to find my way home for hours.

With my promotion comes a new set of weapons and equipment! Phased Plasma Cannons in the 60 Watt range, various types of homing missile and an AUTOFIRE unit!

On this level... I haven't got a clue.

I can't be bothered listening to those cutscenes and there's no option for subtitles on this deluxe CD version of 2029. The Orders menu is hopelessly vague on this level. Worse still, this level's made up of a multiple huge 'sectors' and it's hard to find the corridors connecting one part of the level to another.

My 60W PPCs with autofire are the bee's knees. I've loaded myself with five of them, so I can hammer the F1 key to cycle between them all to deliver an uninterrupted beam of synthesized death at anything that crosses my path (as long as I don't mind standing still while I do it).

That's too many Terminators. Way too many Terminators.

Time to move.

They damaged my guns! They damaged my autofire unit! They damaged my damage report computer!

Those BASTARDS!

I've got a better plan. Back to base. Abort the mission.

Yes, yes, I know I'm a lousy solider, blah, blah. At least I keep bringing the one-of-a-kind ACE Battle Armor home intact. That has to be worth something.

I'm going to keep aborting every mission until you give me one that has different graphics. We're all getting bored here.

What's the worst that could happen?

Right.

That didn't look good.

Sorry about that.

I don't know a great deal about the Terminator universe Skynet war, but this game looks like it's got the mood spot on. A shame, because this is a bad game. I thought going back to turn-and-move on the cursor keys for these old games would be bad, but a PC game doing the Death Mask thing is ridiculous.

If you must play this, read the manual and take time to learn the controls completely. You'll need all the practice as you're going to be shifting your hands between keyboard and mouse a lot and it's not an easy game. The first level was kind of short, but the next level had me stumped completely. As far as I can tell, this game is only eight levels long but there's no saves during a mission.

Perhaps the best thing about the game is the rendered enemies. I wasn't able to get up close to one of the T-800 type enemies to get a picture of it without it blowing me up first. If only the game had an 'enemy gallery' of sorts.

Hooray! Something good came of all this after all!

4 comments:

  1. its rare for such an old game to be based on the future timeline

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  2. Hooray! You got back to Terminator games. Ahem, sorry for sarcasm, but I am not in any way mad at you. ;-) In fact I am honestly thankful that you at least occasionally play some of them and I am patiently waiting for 3rd and 4th installment.

    Anyways idea of SkyNET creating some power suit designed for !human! is completely ridiculous. Why would he (or it?) waste its precious time, effort and resources to create something that he had no use for and it could be captured by his enemy and used against him?
    Waaait, maybe he integrated some hidden code into it that would make suit act autonomously and kill John Connor if it spotted him. That would be actually very clever trap.
    BTW Is it just me or does that "Javelin" robot (lower left picture from enemy gallery) look like copied version of ED 209? It looks like Bethesda took more inspiration from Robocop than we thought. :-)

    To Adam:
    There are 2 more games set in future (also made by Bethesda) - Terminator Future Shock and Terminator SkyNET. IMHO no game before or after captured atmosphere of postapocalyptic world better than these games.

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  3. Dawn of Fate on the PS2 did a good job capturing the future Terminator mood. It's a short, not-great game, but it's worth a look.

    There's a pretty decent Terminator Salvation arcade game out right now, but it's REALLY DIFFICULT.

    And yeah, it seems like game designers had this weird need to link the Robocop and Terminator worlds. Incidentally, I just recently did a post about the game where they went all the way with it: http://www.coronajumper.com/2012/12/robocop-vs-terminator.html

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  4. My local gaming magazine gave this a 88%. When Terminator: Rampage came out they were downright wistful for 2029, because here having the mouse on the screen allows for pixel-perfect sniping, there the standard FPS controls put bullets all over the place.

    Me, I'm just thrilled by the cool and completely unnecessary power-up animation on the equipment screen.

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