Terminator Salvation Q&A - Guns, Enemies, and Hollywood

Producer Per Juhlen explains what to expect from this movie-licensed third-person shooter.


Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, starring actor Christian Bale and rap musician Common, will be in theaters soon, and likewise, this licensed third-person shooter is headed toward a PC or console near you. The game will be a cover-based shooter in which you must battle the armies of the merciless machines, the terminators sent by Skynet. To get some more insight into the game, we spoke with producer Per Juhlen.

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GameSpot: Give us an update on the game's development. What part of the game is the team working on now?

Per Juhlen: Right now we are in submission for some of the platforms, and the team is focusing on supplying material for manuals and marketing as well as put in some final touches for the PC version, mainly some last QA tests and language fixes for the additional languages. So there is not much going on from a creative aspect since the game is close to being finished.

GS: How closely has the team been able to work with the upcoming film? Have all the film assets been made available? Is there a really recognizable part or aspect of the film that we can expect to see in the game?

PJ: We have had a tremendous relationship with the film team and the gents at Halcyon. We have had almost daily updates from the film team and direct contacts on the set to ensure fast turnaround times. We also had our two art directors onsite with the movie people, working together, which was very valuable. To work closely with the film team when doing a movie game in parallel with the film is a must. We must be able to establish the right look and feel early on in the development cycle; this is an absolute must, working on the same tight deadlines as the movie team.

GS: Any chance we'll see any of the Hollywood talent from the movie making an appearance in the game?

PJ: Yes, you will see some of them in the game. I believe you actually see some of them in the already-released screenshots and not to mention the smoking-hot trailer for the game. And in the near future more material will be released specifically for the game, so expect loads of clips and so forth covering the game. But the short version would be a solid "Yes!"

GS: How closely does the story of the game follow the story of the movie?

Skynet has become self-aware. You must save the world.
Skynet has become self-aware. You must save the world.

PJ: The game takes place two years prior to the film and gives the player insight to how John Connor goes from being a brick in the resistance puzzle to become the leader within the resistance. You will also learn how the relationships between John and some of the key resistance fighters were established prior to the film. We have really tried to make the game serve as a complement to the film, and the game adds a fair amount to the film and vice versa. I am sure that the background information revealed in the game will appeal to many players.

GS: We understand that the game, which is a third-person shooter, will focus a great deal on cover. Tell us about some of the evasive moves that players will need to use to survive, such as sliding from cover to cover.

PJ: We have a well-developed cover system, but we focused much more on the actual scenario as a whole. While having controlled environments, we wanted to give the player as much freedom as possible in solving all the challenges in the game. And in the tool box, we have the cover system together with the teammates, weapons, and environmental setups. Each of these components must be utilized for tactical positioning. The cover system alone allows the player to quickly move between different positions. Blind-firing at enemies draws their attention, and with the right weapons, damages and destroys them. In combat you take cover, and we wanted to ensure that it played as good as it could, and that has been our focus. The real "wow" moments come through when you and your team use cover quickly to sneak up behind a powerful enemy and destroy it with a weapon that was nearly useless during the initial frontal attack.

GS: Considering that players will be fighting against invincible, godless killing machines from the future, what kind of weapons will they be using in the game?

PJ: You will get your hands on a broad range of weapons. Players will have to outsmart the Skynet forces and won't be able to take them out with simple assault rifles. There's a very pleasant feeling that comes from seeing a RPG projectile cruising towards its target. Additionally, players will get the chance to use hand grenades as well as primitive yet powerful pipe bombs. Using the right weapon for the job is one of the important aspects of the game.

GS: How will players' tactics need to be different than a standard third-person shooter where players might fight normal human beings? How will the machines fight differently than standard enemies in a shooter?

PJ: In Terminator Salvation, you really need to use all components available to you to take out the enemies. You are fighting armored robots and you need to adapt their tactics. The best tactic and approach is very different depending on the type of enemy, environment setting, and which difficulty you are playing. When encountering some enemies, a good approach is to let your team get the attention of the enemy while you sneak up behind and attack. If you are not able to take them out using this tactic, you can utilize the cross fire to succeed.

The machines won't be easy to take down.
The machines won't be easy to take down.

One thing that most enemies have in common is when enough damage is done, the armor will be damaged and expose the inner circuitry, which creates a new "weak spot," so to say. You will encounter less-advanced enemies that are more of a threat due to the sheer numbers they come in, but of course there is a best practice to handle these as well.

The intensity of each battle depends on how well the player masters the various aspects of combat. It can result in a quick death or a junk yard or Terminator debris. Other factors such as positioning, team work, weaponry, movement and covers are also important when encountering each enemy. And this freedom on how to take on the enemies, where nothing is really right or wrong, is what makes Terminator Salvation stand out from other games.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the combat in Terminator Salvation, or anything else about the game in general?

PJ: I am sure that the people playing the game will take some time to explore the depth of the gameplay. I'm still finding new ways of taking on the challenges in Terminator Salvation, and I hope that players will have the time to try the game multiple times, especially in co-op.

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