Gaming nostalgia with Terminator: The Future Shock

I am not really a nostalgic person, but I occasionally play some older games, it's good to see where we come from (and what we forget in terms of gameplay and gamedesign).

So this evening I tried the Terminator: The Future Shock demo, which is one of my favorite first person shooter of all time.

It came out in 1995, one year after Doom II, and before Quake and Duke Nukem 3D showed up. It uses a simple 2.5D engine, while the world is kind of 3D. Of course the whole thing looks outdated, but what I still like is the sound design.

The gameplay is the winner here. First of all this is not a console fps, there are more than 2 weapons, in fact I think there are more than 9 weapons. The missions have multiple objectives and as I remember many times it doesn't end with just "destroy this, or that building", but you need to actually escape from the scene.

It was also revolutionary that you could enter in and out buildings exploring them, and the scenery while boring and more of the same - of course because we are after a nuclear war - it is huge and you can go to a lot of places, and the corridors were nicely masked this way. You have a sense of discovery, that's now clearly out of fashion in FPS games. The game interestingly features a 3D map with zoom and rotation! I don't think either Quake or DN3D had a 3D map...

Expect many type of enemies, and they all make distinctive sounds, so always check your back. And of course we get the movie theme in midi form, which we will humming anyway. :)

One of the best feature is that you can drive a car (and shoot from it!), and also can fly (and shoot!) later. This was I think the first FPS that you can do these kind of stuff, and it is pretty cool and well executed. I don't know if you can try it in a demo, but when I played it back then I had fun hours.

The atmosphere is spot on, the whole environment is really dark just as we would expect after a nuclear war. You really feel that you are a soldier against the machine.


The Future Shock demo is completely playable with Dosbox, just make sure you setup your sound card, as older games can be picky about it.

There was a sequel a year later, called Skynet with an upgraded engine, and they cleverly made it backward compatible so with it you could play Future Shock in glorious 640*480!