The Terminator: Future Shock
Bethesda has finally created a game that gives Doom a run for its money! This futuristic blast-fest is loosely based on the Terminator movies and features non-stop 'killing lots of robots' type gameplay.
Okay, It's A Doom Clone, And Yes, I know you're all bored totally shitless with the things, seeing as how we seem to review at least one or two of them every month - but this one's different, honest. It's got a game engine that makes Doom look like the pretend 3D shoot 'em up it really is, and if that's not enough for you, you get to drive cars and fly futuristic vehicles and stuff like that, so don't write it off before we even get started, okay? Good!
Now, as I was saying. Terminator: Future Shock really is a bit special. It's all down to a new game engine that Bethesda has developed called Xngine which gives you full freedom of movement in a true 3D environment. This means you can explore the game area in detail: smash a crate open and you can look down to see if there's any goodies on the floor. And you can jump into cars and drive straight down the road while at the same time keeping tabs on where your enemies are by looking left, right and behind you. You can look up at the ceilings in the buildings and, if you're bored, sort of pirouette around the floor and get really dizzy. Basically, you can control your movements in almost the same way as you can in real life.
This brings a whole new dimension to the concept of playing a first-person perspective action game. If you've got a terminator coming for you it's fairly easy to take him out because he's just walking straight at you; however, if you've got a nasty looking flying robot thing hovering above your head and constantly jumping in and out of your line of sight, it really is another matter entirely. Whereas Heretic and Hexen let you look up and down just to show you how clever the programmers could be if they wanted to. Future Shock actually forces you to look up and down just to survive. So, you may have gathered by now that the game engine is rather special. And as luck would have it, so is the gameplay... Hoorah!
Oh no, it's a movie tie-in
Oh yes, indeed it is, but fear not because for once the characters in the movie contribute significantly to the game's atmosphere. Future Shock is loosely based on the first Terminator film. This means you get to shoot terminators, walking robots, flying ships and flying circular things that look a bit like the tomato monsters from Doom, except they're futuristic and er, they don't have any teeth. Also, the movie's post-apocalyptic atmosphere has been transferred lock, stock and barrel to the game - as you walk around the landscapes you'll come across barren wastelands that were once thriving cities; you'll find that the sense of hopelessness and tragedy felt by any nuclear holocaust survivors is conveyed through the eerie music and excellent graphics that perfectly depict the game's war-torn landscapes.
As far as the actual gameplay is concerned, you can obviously make comparisons to Doom, but Future Shock doesn't really play like other Doom-type games because you're not constantly running around shooting everything in sight. You'll spend a lot of your time on each level exploring the map you're currently playing - this can sometimes take hours as the levels are absolutely enormous. Consequently, your time is usually divided between destroying the various enemies you come across, and trying to find out where the bloody hell you're supposed to be going.
This is the biggest problem - if anything, the levels are a little too big. This wouldn't be so bad if there was a half-decent automap, but unfortunately the levels are so vast that the programmers couldn't design an automap feature that tracks it in its entirety because it would have taken up too much memory. What you do get is a map showing your immediate environment which, frankly, is no great help. You can often end up in a position where you've despatched all the enemies on a level, only to find that you can't locate the exit.
Which reminds me of another little problemette: at the beginning of each level you are given a mission briefing which tells you where you're meant to be going, and what you've got to do when you get there. That's all very well except you can't press a key during the mission to remind yourself what your objectives are. A top tip kiddies: after every mission briefing, write down what your objectives are, or you'll forget and spend ages wandering around aimlessly.
One more minor gripe (and this could be my personal taste interfering here) is the soundtrack, which is sometimes too laid-back for the action. I'd prefer the music to rev up a bit when the combat starts, but you can't have everything I suppose. These probs aside, Future Shock is an excellent action game with mega fun driving and flying levels, loads of futuristic enemies to scrap with, moody graphics and plenty of variety in the levels. How it will compare to Apogee's new blaster Duke Nukem 3D when it comes out next month remains to be seen. Watch this space.
Download The Terminator: Future Shock
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode
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2018-11-01 The Terminator: Future Shock game added.