Alongside the games that were directly based on the movies, Bethesda Softworks released a quintet of shooters that far surpassed the iffy quality of anything Ocean did with the franchise. Not content with resting on their laurels, they attempted to do new things which would later become staples of the genre even today...
Their first attempt was actually the first-ever game based on the blockbusters. Released in 1991 it's a massively ambitious 3D open-world game with a huge playing field. Polygonal graphics were still in their infancy and wouldn't become mainstream until many years later. This was at a time when Wolfenstein was still a 2D side-scroller so to attempt to recreate an entire 60 acres of real-world Los Angeles boggles the mind.
For 1991, the things you can do here is astounding. Not all of them are necessary, and they often distract from the mission at hand, but it adds to the whole immersion. You can enter and drive cars, enter a store to buy or steal anything (including condoms and sanitary towels) and even cause a mass shootout by robbing a bank. Don't cause too much havoc though as the military will eventually be bought in.
There are two types are play, though in each case I simply found myself wandering about doing random things (I tend to get distracted easily in all open-world games which is only a bad thing when you want to go back to the story). The first option is to play as futuristic mercenary Kyle Reese. After you've found Sarah Connor, you are then tasked with protecting her from the T-800 then gather enough firepower to take him down. It's easier said than done.
You can also play as the Terminator himself. You need to search for Sarah Connor and destroy her without being killed yourself. You'll first need some clothes (optional) and guns (not optional) but it basically consists of wandering around until you see a woman with a blinding yellow block of hair.
The open-world nature of the game would later be refined in Bethesda's later games such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout where huge maps and exploration are key to their success. Being the first of its type, The Terminator does have many flaws which modern gamers may baulk at. For one thing, the controls are overly complex, with many keyboard keys being used for some very minor things (entering a car uses a different key to entering a building). I often found myself scrambling to remember what key enters a car while under heavy fire. Despite its flaws, its a fascinating footnote in the history of gaming and an important entry that is all too forgotten.
The Terminator (1991) DOS
The next game in the series would be a self-contained story set in the post-apocalyptic future. While The Terminator: 2029 would bear all of the hallmarks of a first-person shooter is plays more like an action-focused dungeon crawler like Eye of the Beholder.
Areas are arranged in a grid and you move in static images that would allow for much more detail than a 3D environment would allow in 1992. There's no strafing or diagonal movements and you aim on each screen with your mouse. Action is comparable to a light-gun game that only uses mouse control (think T2: The Arcade Game from the previous collection). Because you have direct control of your movements, attacking becomes a more tactical affair. You can see your enemies on the radar and using the map on the lower left of the screen will make you think about the best angle and distance to attack from. Even though it can easily devolve into click-fests, I found it highly entertaining and actually preferred it to the simple shooting mechanics of early first-person shooters.
Before you set out for each mission, you'll be given the opportunity to upgrade your battle armour which looks like a beefed-up Boba Fett. You can attach different weapons you've collected in the field or alter the defensive capabilities. There's a surprising amount of equipment to play around with and each has a significant effect on how the mission will play out. Unlike a lot of other games, you'll not be able to re-play a failed mission (unless you restore a save file). If you fail, the story will branch off into different directions and a new set of missions will play out. In this respect, it has a lot of replay value, even without the mission pack addon (also included).
The Terminator: 2029 (1992) DOS
Do you remember two paragraphs ago when I said that I enjoyed The Terminator: 2029's action mechanic to the simplistic FPS clones? Well The Terminator: Rampage is just that. It was released in 1993, the same year as Doom, which I think is no coincidence. Rampage has more in common with Wolfenstein 3D, which was actually released during its development time. The levels are maze-like and mostly nondescript and the game-play offers little more than shooting things.
Granted, the graphics do look really good for the time, but once you see it in motion it will no longer impress. The frame-rate is one of the worst I've ever seen in such a game. I don't get queasy in any other game, but I found this stuttering to be quite nauseating.
This is the worst in Bethesda's series and one to check out for curiosity's sake only.
The Terminator: Rampage (1993) DOS
Two years later and Bethesda would be back on form with The Terminator: Future Shock. This was a blockbuster title back in 1995, but it is very little talked about today. This is surprising as it pioneered a lot of genre staples. Sure it's another FPS, but where Rampage felt like a poor man's copy of better games, Future Shock felt like it's own thing.
The major innovation is in the mechanics. If you've ever played an FPS with mouse and keyboard controls, you've got this game to thank for it. It plays sublimely, even today. Just like Bethesda are want to do, the levels are huge with a large wasteland to explore. You can even enter buildings that have not yet been destroyed to find hidden items or a surprise enemy. The game design is such that it encourages exploration, but doesn't frustrate you with maze-like constructions, which shows that they've learned a lot since Rampage. You'll always have a sense of where you are and how you can back, even without using the radar.
What does date it ever so slightly, is the graphics. While it looked amazing two decades ago only looks so-so today, but the biggest detriment visually is the obviously re-used landmarks copy and pasted in the landscape. It's a testament to the design that these visual snags do not ruin the game.
The Terminator: Future Shock (1995) DOS
While Future Shock was (and is) a high-point in both Terminator games and licensed gamed in general, Bethesda did it yet again in 1996 with The Terminator SkyNET. Reviewers of the day weren't too kind on this game, giving it average scores and bemoaning the smaller size compared to its predecessor. Nowadays, it still holds up very well and is arguably the best in the series.
The levels may be smaller and fewer, but they are also more focused. There are basic story elements withing the gameplay which is even more refined. In certain missions, there is even the opportunity to take control of vehicles. Driving away from a hoard of terminators in your jeep, mowing all that's in your way is truly exciting. A later mission involving a Hunter Killer also sees you take to the air in another fun sequence, giving a welcome variety of play styles. In addition, the cut-scenes now use that 90s gaming fad of Full Motion Video. These are hilariously bad in a good way but are easily skipped if they begin to grate.
The game now supports the higher resolution of 640x480 (it was a big deal in 1996), but it also comes with one other exciting feature. If you have Future Shock installed, you can play that game in its entirety using the upgraded XnGine and all of the graphical enhancements that implies.
The Terminator: SkyNET (1996) DOS
And there ends Bethesda's five-year foray into the Terminator universe. The care given to these titles - even Rampage to a certain extent - make them the definitive games within the Terminator franchise. If you've played any of the many versions that take inspiration from the films directly you can see just how special it is that they even exist. They are not just good, but also important in the history of our favourite pastime that should not be forgotten.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Some manuals included. Tested on Windows 7.
File Size: 342 Mb. Install Size: 813 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
The Terminator (the games) are © Bethesda Softworks
The Terminator (the movies) are © Paramount
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me
Whenever I launch it the games from the custom menu, it starts to open my DOSBOX, then it just crashes and closes. Not sure how to fix.ReplyDelete
Hello. Did it install correctly? Does the same thing happen if you use the RUN.bat files? I've just done a brief test and, barring some minor issues due to my error (menu music doesn't stop, fullscreen as desktop) it runs. Read the FAQ for info on common errors, including those I mentioned.Delete
Yes I have same issue. There was no installation errors. From .bat files too. When before I tried install other version myself via dosbox, I got same.Delete
I've just tested it myself and all games launch. Have you tried running as admin or installing outside of program files? What do the .conf files say when opened in notepad? Scroll to the very bottom and see if the lines there are correct. Maybe put a # before 'exit' and run it again to see what error messages show up.Delete
Probably did something wrong. I managed to install games from image of original CDs and patch and configurate them themselfs. Thank you for your work anyway :)Delete
Sorry for doublepost but I know what this issue was most probablyDelete
Xngine games have .cfg file in them. Like xcar.cfg for xcar experemental racing, or z.cfg for tes2 daggerfall etc. There is path for the game files on your hard drive (emulted in dos box of cource). If this path not match game just crash. You can change this in any text editor you want.
Hi everyone, have you tried playing Last Day on Earth? Try it :)ReplyDelete
I think Future Shock is my favorite of the bunch because it was just so ambitious. I also think it's got a better story than Skynet and I'm a sucker for the hand drawn sequences over the cheesy FMV. Skynet is maybe a little more straightforward and fun but there's something more raw and atmospheric about Future Shock that makes me prefer it.ReplyDelete
Personally, I think SkyNET just ebs ahead of it, but they do play rather differently. I guess it all depends on your preferred playstyle.Delete
Thanks for the great collection! :)ReplyDelete
Do you have an idea how to make Skynet save settings (controls, graphics)?
Thanks for making these games playable again! With the recent release of TERMINATOR: RESISTANCE, it's made me wwant to check out some of the older games. I tell people that if they liked RESISTANCE, then to check out FUTURE SHOCK and SKYNET too.ReplyDelete
Just a few issues:
1. Is it possible to turn off the music in the start menus before you load a game? It stays on and keeps playing in the background, over the games' own music. I have to ALT-TAB out of DOSBox in order to kill the startup menu, then ALT-ENTER back in, but this doesn't always work, as the game freezes and I have to end-task it and start over.
2. In SKYNET, I've noticed that the game "forgets" that I am playing it in 640x480 instead of the default 320x240. I always have to go into the Options menu and re-enable this. Is there a way to fix this?
3. Is it possible to play these games using Roland-MT-32 emulated sound? I have a couple of emulators, and I've set the DOSBox configurations to use them, but I still get Soundblaster music.
4. FUTURE SHOCK/SKYNET still crashes occasionally. Not enough to be deal-breakers, but still annoying when it happens.
I played collectionchamber's nice Terminator collection before Resistance.Delete
1. I think there was a mute button on the launcher, no? I had the same problem and had to pay attention to launcher and I think I found it some corner. Or maybe I removed the sound file...
2. Yes, it kept forgeting reso and in some instances keymapping as well.
4. Yep it crashed on me quite often as well.
Also, note that when playing Future Shock's Skynet version, there is (Bethesda gamebreaking) sprite bug when one guy can't be killed. You have to use cheat code to finish the level.
Hey guys, sorry for the late reply. I don't recall any crashes or problems with the resolution. Could it be your admin privileges causing havoc? Run as admin or install outside of Program Files. All of my old installers defaulted to there so that could be the cause.Delete
The first three games ran beautifully. Never played the cd version of 2029, it's amazing how much better it is. Thanks for your work, here. I've been struggling to get these to run properly.ReplyDelete
Had a nasty problem with Future shock though. Ran way faster than it should have, and I'm not entirely sure how to correct the problem.
This is one of my earliest installers on the site (coming up to 5 years now) so it may not be the most polished. I would say the speed issue could be down to cycles. Open 004.conf in notepad and edit the cycles option from "cycles = auto" to something like "cycles = 18000". Just did a test and that seemed to be good for me.Delete
this is an extraordinary set up... Future Shock and Skynet were my first proper games i played on a PC... been great playing them again. 1 minor glich, the FPS is very quick in Future SHock, is this an easy fix?ReplyDelete
Yes. Read the above comment comment about cycles in 004.conf.Delete
thank you sir... it's the grestest piece of work i've seen in yearsDelete
The Terminator: 2029 doesn`t let me save or load my game, it says something like "CD-ROM wasn`t properly installed". And default 3000 cycles seems to be too slow, had to set it to 10000 or more.ReplyDelete
Have you tried installing outside of Program Files or running as admin? That could be the cause of it. More info in the FAQ.Delete
I have that same "CD-Rom not properly installed" on Terminator 2029. It's in a folder on my drive root (G:/Terminator Collection), and I'm running as admin. No dice though. I've been testing it by creating a new character and immediately trying to save before the first mission. Not sure if that makes a difference.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the collection by the way. I was going nuts trying to get my old copy of the game to work. The games run great and sounds beautiful. They have frequent crashes, but that's Bethesda for you, even back then.
This is one of my earlier installers, but I've just quickly tested it again and it's working well for me. When you ran as admin, was that through the custom menu or DOSBox itself? Try applying that to Run.exe and play using RUN-002.bat. This type of error message is usually caused by the admin issues associated with Program Files.Delete
It says that CD\005.iso file is corrupt or unreadable. Any suggestions?ReplyDelete
All files need to be downloaded before installing. See the FAQ for more infoDelete
The 1991 DOS game looks incredibly boring, but from a technical perspective it is very impressive!ReplyDelete
I finished Terminator: SkyNET when it was still kind of new and it always kind of baffled me that it's not that well known. The atmosphere was great, I still remember certain areas from the tension it caused at the time :D
Definitely! The gaming press seem to forget just how groundbreaking Bethesda's Terminator games were. And yes, the OG DOS game is more ambitious than it is fun. Worth a few minutes mucking about in it though.Delete
First of all thanks for this amazing collection. But it´s a shame, I can´t make it works. I´ve try all the recommendations above and nothing, the games don´t want to work. Maybe an upgraded version?. I really want to play this fantastic relics.ReplyDelete
Windows 10 won't let me extract any of the files so I can install it.ReplyDelete
I can't install it.Delete
You might need admin rights to run the installer. Read the FAQ for more info on any other problems you may encounter.Delete
Amazing Collection! Thank you :) How is it possible though to upgrade Future Shock and Skynet with the Grafx High Resolution patch?ReplyDelete