Nuclear fire. Three billion lives lost. A war against the machines. Well, I will go to the foot of the stairs. Lost Angeles in the year 2059 is not the happiest of all places (nor is it in 1993, apparently).
The survivors of the war Judgement Day (the nuclear fire) live only to fight the machines. Nasty machines not dissimilar to C3PO from Star Wars. And the folk of Los Angeles are relying on you and your mouse movements to do the business for them in this fraught and very frantic shoot-em-up.
The story (for those who have not seen Arnie in the film) is that a terminator sent from the future to kill the leader of the resistance, Sarah Connor, failed miserably and now the enemy is targeting the future leader, Sarah's son John. But young John has a guardian angel (you) and your job is to protect him from the said evil.
Blown away the baddies
Using a point-of-view perspective, you target a gunsight at a host of baddies and blow them to smithereens. These include Endoskeletons with rifles, machinegun-toting Cyborgs, acid-chucking laboratory technicians and various devilsome airborne craft.
You start with a machine gun and 25 guided missiles, which are best used sparingly. Along the way, there are a whole host of pick-ups to gather including extra credits, protective shields, and a plethora of destructive firepower. They appear in kit cases and you must click to open them and click again to obtain them. Sounds easy, but when you are surrounded by metallic madmen hellbent on your destruction and inflicting severe damage upon you, it can get very tricky as you try and counterbalance picking stuff up and killing the swine.
Sporting control options of mouse, keyboard and joystick, Terminator 2 is best played with a good mouse, simply because of the speed required. It is seriously fast action. There are seven levels to tackle including a van chase where you battle against a T-1000 in a helicopter. The early levels are incredibly tough, particularly when you combat the Ground Hunter Killer with its endless supply of missiles. This is a faithful conversion of the arcade game and the graphics and sound effects remain true to the original with sampled speech and crisp explosions and gunfire.
I'll be back...
Although Terminator 2 does not break new ground or offer a great deal of variety, it is perfectly adequate in the playability stakes. In two-player mode, it is fast, furious and fun. The sheer volume of baddies make it virtually impossible for one player to take them all out, but with two you can dispose of them at will as well as collecting the plentiful pick-ups.
This is a direct port from the original game, or to be more precise a direct port of the Mega Drive version, which was a straight copy of the coin-op. Like the first T2 you get various sections of the movie to replicate, but this time they are all handled in the same way - shoot everything that moves from your first-person viewpoint. Control is by mouse or joystick and - well, that is the plot used up. Is it good, then?
Um, well... not much. More or less from first impressions to last ones, this conversion repeatedly disappoints. When you start up, you first have to read through the scene-setting text, which you cannot skip out of. Then, after shooting the first wave of Terminators, the scrolling starts. Oh dear. What you get here, scrolling-wise, is not so much parallax as four strips of wallpaper being pulled along the ground at different (and differing) speeds. The effect is tatty to say the least, and it does not fill you with great expectations for what is to come, which is probably just as well. Level one (there are six, with various sub-sections in some of them) continues in an unimpressive vein for a while, until eventually you reach the most intensely depressing end-of-level boss I have encountered in a long time. He is a huge but unthreatening-looking creation, and while he is neither hard to hit nor difficult to avoid damaged by, you DO have to shoot him for about five minutes before he gives up and sods off. After a couple of game I was able to wipe this guy out by sound alone, which was lucky as my head was slumped on the desk in my spare hand.
Level two? More of the same, pretty much.
Level three is where I got really sad, though. On the Mega Drive version, level three is an utterly fearsome battle, where dozens of Terminators and HK bombers try to destroy John Connor's pick-up truck. It is hellishly difficult, and in two days I spent playing the Sega game, I did not get past it once. The Amiga version is slower and moves jerkily and unimpressively, and I sailed through it second try. Onto new ground now - surely things are aout to get scary?
Level four introduces some bizarre new adversaries, including a weird golden snake-type thing that I do not remember seeing in the movie, but otherwise innovation is conspicuous by its absence - it is another level-one-and-two-style slaughterfest, with nothing that I can remember to distinguish it particularly, except some especially horrible strips of grey graphics later on. Oh, and the way that the baddies come from different 'depths' of the scenery, but are all the same size, which looks totally ridiculous.
Level five (which comes in three sections) improves things a bit, with lots of property damage to inflict, and a bit of interest added in the shape of Sarah and John Connor, who run around in the midst of the hordes of bad guys, dropping explosive charges and power-ups for you to collect, but it is still really the same old stuff. The last section of the level is a bit different, as you try to protect the SWAT van they are escaping Cyberdyne in from T1000 in a helicopter and a tanker, but it is so embarrassingly easy once you work out what is going on that it might as well not have bothered.
Level six is the game's last chance to redeem itself, and it almost manages it. You have to employ some skill and strategy (for the first time in the game) to maneuver the T1000 into jets of liquid nitrogen from the tanker and keep him there. Manage this, and you get another bit where you have to blast him with a shotgun to keep him away from John Connor and send him into the smelting flames. It is quite good fun, but sadly it is too little too late. When you die and use up your last credit, the thought of slogging through the previous five levels with your eyes closed and your finger welded to the fire button all over again is almost too much to bear.
Now you might argue (if you were from Virgin or Probe, for example) that most of these flaws are inherent design problems from the arcade game. Well, yes. But the shabby graphics, sound and narrow screen display are not, and the design did not stop the Mega Drive game from being a fun and slick (if pretty shallow) blaster. This, though, is pretty dull most of the way through, and even two-player mode makes very little difference to the excitement factor. To be fair, it is playable enough, and it is alright if you have got half-an-hour to kill and you want to just rattle through something to take out the day's frustrations, but Operation Thunderbolt still does it a lot better.
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