Terminator Resistance: Annihilation Line Review – Hasta La Vista

An expansion clearly made for fans of the base game - and basically nobody else.

Posted By | On 13th, Dec. 2021

Terminator Resistance: Annihilation Line Review – Hasta La Vista

When I finished Terminator Resistance on the PS4 back in 2019 I walked away from it feeling largely satisfied with how well it nailed the atmosphere of the Terminator future war era that the original few movies hinted at so well. I also rather enjoyed the handful of new characters that were solely invented for the game, yet fit perfectly into the 30-year-old setting. What Terminator Resistance lacked in gameplay variety and general execution, it made honorable strides at making up for with its clear love for the IP and its ability to neatly slide into the lore of the franchise without stepping on the films’ toes too much. It also left me with the distinct feeling that, had it taken the spectacle and excitement of the last few missions and spread that out among the other 75% of the game a little better, it probably would have been received much more positively. While its new expansion Annihilation Line doesn’t quite get the memo on that, it does largely deliver a sharper, more poignant romp in the same storyline that takes far less time to get going than the main campaign did.

"Familiar characters like Baron and Jennifer are immediately reintroduced in the story along with a slightly more calculated rendition of Kyle Reese, with whom you spend much of the 4-ish hour campaign. Along with them, a few new characters also spring up, and they fit into the world just as well as anybody else does."

After a brief opening stealth section, Annihilation Line‘s main objective of hitting the ground running becomes readily apparent, as you’re given a healthy bounty of money and experience points to get yourself leveled up and armed to a respectable degree. Your experience doesn’t technically carry over from the main game, but this initial jolt of resources will more or less get you to where you were in the mid-point of it, which is about where Annihilation Line’s story takes place anyway. This is an advantage that the expansion wisely takes advantage of by arming you with plasma weapons and throwing you into the fray with hunter killers and T-800s within mere minutes of starting it.

This was a huge relief to see, as the first few hours of the main game were significantly dragged down by its excessively slow build-up to those Terminator moments that everyone bought the game for. Even if it’s been a while since you’ve played the main game, not to worry, as it’s streamlined approach to crafting, leveling up, and general gameplay should still fit like an old glove – which is to say the same progression systems and over-arching gameplay mechanics are largely here. Lockpicks, crafting, stealth, hacking and combat all feel basically identical, except of course for the initial slog of not being able to do anything. Just as well, it’s mostly the same enemies you’ll be blowing away too.

Familiar characters like Baron and Jennifer are immediately reintroduced in the story along with a slightly more calculated rendition of Kyle Reese, with whom you spend much of the 4-ish hour campaign. Along with them, a few new characters also spring up, and they fit into the world just as well as anybody else does. None of these characters deliver any monumental moments, but much like the performances of the main campaign, they are mostly pretty serviceable for what the writing requires of them – which isn’t much. Seeing that it takes place within an already established story, this tale doesn’t really get much of a chance to have much of an impact on the overall lore.

terminator resistance annihilation line

"Much like the main game, Annihilation Line’s visual presentation hits you with that double-edged blade of really nailing the general tone and atmosphere of the world but also falling decidedly short of the texture quality and visual effects that you would expect from a modern first-person shooter."

Instead, the story here is pretty standard Terminator fare, and while I expect most Terminator fans will be about as happy with the story here as they were with the base game, I would have really liked to see something different emerge from all of it. The first and foremost job of any story-driven expansion is to deliver a comparable experience to its host game, and Annihilation Line certainly accomplishes this. But after two years of feedback and a somewhat bullish $15 price tag, something more substantial to differentiate this story from the base game would have really helped make it more recommendable in a general sense. As it is, the story and major gameplay loops largely add up to more of the same – limiting its appeal to pretty much only those who were planning on getting it anyway. There’s nothing horribly wrong with that, but it is a bit disappointing to see its expansion end up with this somewhat unambitious story.

Much like the main game, Annihilation Line’s visual presentation hits you with that double-edged blade of really nailing the general tone and atmosphere of the world but also falling decidedly short of the texture quality and visual effects that you would expect from a modern first-person shooter. Granted, I don’t think it would be fair to expect Teyon to totally overhaul their engine for the sake of a 4-hour expansion, but it is something to be aware of for newcomers. Characters’ facial animations in particular, that felt middling in 2019, aren’t faring any better at the end of 2021. Nor are the blurry textures in some of the environments or the rudimentary lighting effects. That said, it doesn’t interfere much with your ability to enjoy the experience, especially if you have already played Resistance and aren’t expecting anything more.

Where it excels the most is in its audio design. Across the board, sounds, music, even the somewhat dry deliveries of most of the dialogue all fit in this universe so well that it should bring at least a grin to the face of any Terminator fan. Exchanging plasma lasers with proper Terminators among the decimated bluish-grey concrete while familiar retro synth melodies rumble in the background is a video game experience that Terminator fans have been wanting for literal decades prior to Terminator Resistance’s launch, and while developer Teyon’s take on that combat is a bit unwieldy at times, the sound design surrounds the entire affair from all corners so well that the overall experience can still add up to an admirable depiction of the source material when it’s really cooking. And thanks to a much better sense of pacing here than in the base game, it’s arguable that this is a better representation of the game’s strengths overall.

terminator resistance annihilation line

"Terminator Resistance: Annihilation Line is hard to recommend to anyone who found the base game unappealing. The same complaints about Resistance’s somewhat mushy movement, generic progression systems, and boilerplate mission structure could all just as easily be levelled at this expansion. But at the same time, so could all the adulation for its outstanding portrayal of the dystopian future from the Terminator franchise. The characters still work, and the vibe still feels right."

Terminator Resistance: Annihilation Line is hard to recommend to anyone who found the base game unappealing. The same complaints about Resistance’s somewhat mushy movement, generic progression systems, and boilerplate mission structure could all just as easily be levelled at this expansion. But at the same time, so could all the adulation for its outstanding portrayal of the dystopian future from the Terminator franchise. The characters still work, and the vibe still feels right. Considering that, along with the better pacing and not really getting in the way of everything else that made the base game shine, it’s an easy recommendation for those that are already poised to pick it up on PC or their PS5’s. I would have really liked to see Teyon flex what they’ve learned from Resistance a bit more here and extend the reach of this game, as I truly believe it’s a quintessential example of a diamond in the rough. But as it is, more of the same with some conservative tweaking around the edges isn’t an inherently bad thing.

This game was reviewed on PC.


THE GOOD

Annihilation Line revisits virtually everything that made the base game good while improving the pacing.

THE BAD

The same generic mission structure and mediocre presentation are here, making the $15 price seem a bit high.

Final Verdict:
GOOD
Terminator Resistance’s expansion plays things a bit safer than it should have but still manages to sharpen the base game’s strength somewhat.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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