"Well, I have to admit, when I first played Skynet, I was stunned. Utterly gobsmacked. 'This', I thought, 'is groundbreaking stuff'. To what am I referring? The gameplay? The graphics? The intricate level design? No.. in fact as far as Skynet goes, none of these are particularly remarkable. What's unusual about Skynet is that you actually begin the game with some decent weaponry, instead of the usual pop-gun that other games such as Quake or Duke Nukem 3D start you off with.
There are about ten different baddies you'll have to deal with as you make your way through the levels, and you can split these up into three types. There's the small ground-based baddies, like the terminators and the raptors, which you can take out with a couple of well aimed rockets. Then there's the pant-cackingly scary hunter-killer robots. These take more than a couple of hits to turn them to scrap. Finally there are flying HKs, which while not being very strong, have a nasty habit of flying just above you and shooting you in the back.
But as a counter to this, there are twenty different types of weapon you can use; you start off with about five, and pick up the rest as you go through the game. Some of the weapons, however, are almost identical to each other, using the same ammo, and having slightly differing damage and speed ratios. You'd think this'd be a good thing; you'd have to consider what you were up against, and pick the right weapon for the job. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work this way. It's nearly impossible to remember what a weapon's advantages and disadvantages, without referring to the manual, and this isn't an option when you've got a twenty foot psycho robot baying for your blood. And even if you do know which weapon you want, some weapons can only be picked by pressing a key repeatedly; for example, pressing '3' will bring up the automatic rifle. Press '3' again, and it brings up the uzi. Press '3' again and it brings up the machine gun. There's no simple way of going to the weapon you want, and in the heat of combat you don't want to hang around. Perhaps you could say 'Oh, hello Mr Terminator.. can you just hold on for a few seconds while I changemy weapon?... Argghhh... guess not.'
As for Skynet's levels, well they're not bad, but they could be a lot better. The outdoor sections are quite well done, with ruined buildings, rubble, cars and other debris scattered around. However, once you get inside, things take a different turn. For a start, the buildings and complexes look a little samey, with square rooms, and the odd staircase; every time you enter a building you get a feeling of deja vu. And secondly, the indoor sections are completely separate from the outdoor sections; each time you go through a door, a 'loading' message appears, and the building section is loaded. What's wrong with that, you may well think? Well, it makes the levels feel disjointed; you can't go into a building, go upstairs , and fire out of the windows at the baddies outside. Because the outside isn't there. Sounds complicated? It is. Why on earth Bethseda didn't stick with the time honoured tradition of just having one big map is beyond me. As it is, the levels just don't feel right.
Graphically and sonically, Skynet isn't anything to write home about either. The game uses Bethseda's X-Gine graphics engine, to supposedly allow for fast 3D effects. However, not all is well. The terminators look very little like their movie incarnations, and none of the in-game characters are all that well animated. Plus, while there is an SVGA mode, it runs slowly even on a P133; there's also no support for 3D accelerator cards. The sound effects are limited to the odd mechanical noise and explosions that sound like someone flatteninga milk carton. The original Terminator music is present but even that manages toget twisted somewhere along the way.
One of the reasons that Bethseda released Skynet was that Terminator: Future Shock, the game's predecessor, lacked a multiplayer mode, and Skynet has remedied this. But it can only support a maximum of four players, at a time when most of its competitors, such as Quake and Duke Nukem 3D can support more. Plus, as mentioned earlier, you can't snipe from windows, which is an option available to players of both Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. In fact, I think that pretty much sums up the whole game... it's not as good as Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. Cliched, but true. It's not that Skynet is a bad game, it's just average at best. There's no incentive to make it through to the later levels, especially when the levels are so samey. It's only the Terminator tie-in that stops Skynet from being crap. If you're a Terminator fan, or you enjoyed playing Terminator: Future Shock, Skynet is worth a look. But for everyone else, this is probably best overlooked." Caveat emptor, indeed.
Note: We have been requested by Bethesda Softworks to remove the download of this game. Please contact the company directly if you would like to obtain this game.