The Terminator opens with scenes from the movie, albeit rendered in typical grainy, frame-skippy, half-screen Sega CD video. Those are pretty bad, but the art direction once in-game is actually a pleasant surprise; not the most detailed backgrounds in the world, but very good sprite work, foreground and atmospheric effects. The game also sports a Redbook Audio soundtrack by Tommy Tallarico, done in the wailing butt rock guitar style that was the fashion in the Sega CD era.

Those factors alone have caused a lot of people to call this game both one of the best Terminator and Sega CD games there is. I'm of the opinion that it would be, if only the level design and gameplay weren't so amateurish. The first level is ridiculously easy thanks to the terrible scripting of the Terminators; their AI is apparently on the fritz as they attempt to shoot you through obstacles repeatedly (while you have a clear line of fire on them), stand and patiently wait at bottoms of stairs for you while you gun them down diagonally, and generally barely have an idea of where you even are at any given time (the large tank-bot things don't even make an attempt to turn around when you get behind them and start shooting them to peices.) This jags sharply in the other direction in the second level, however; they're no smarter, but now they're fucking EVERYWHERE, constantly underfoot, set up to get the drop on you, and with 3 or 4 covering each other at a time. The levels also start to get a little labrynthine and confusing at this point.

There's some neat levels later in the game after you time-travel back to 1984, but they suffer from the same design problems. And rather than being a menacing pursuing force, Arnie is reduced to popping in a couple of times as a goofy end-of-level boss who is about as easily dispatched with as some of the common enemies. This game was almost there as a quality run-and-gun, but the fundamentals needed more fine-tuning.

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