24 July 2019
Roll your dice if you want to live
Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance is a board game version of a really bad movie, which you can’t help but like despite its more than obvious flaws.
If you have played any action or RPG-in-a-box games, like Zombicide or Vengeance, Rise of the Resistance won't surprise you in any way. Its gameplay loop is almost too familiar: arrange cardboard map tiles to form your battle arena, drop in a couple of tokens that represent supplies and barriers, put a miniature of your character on a starting spot, and battle waves of endlessly spawning enemies while trying to achieve objectives that vary slightly from mission to mission.
The dice combat is basic and the story that accompanies the missions is laughably clichéd, being overstuffed with dramatic end-of-the-world motivational speeches that are made even funnier by a scattering of typos. Finally, while the game may have enticed you by providing good old gung-ho action in the Terminator universe, the theme is entirely window dressing – beyond the art and miniatures, there is no connection to the mechanics of the gameplay.
In addition, despite being a miniatures-focused game, the figurines are of average quality and, to top that off, do not fit well inside the box. The rest of the components are equally shabby in their quality and presentation, with misaligned printing, extra thin cards and bending boards.
Despite all of that, almost unexplainably, Rise of the Resistance is actually good fun. The combat might be basic, but its mindless dice-rolling is entertaining in its ease and simplicity. The enemies might continually spawn and attack from all directions, but you dispense with them equally swiftly due to the generous actions available each turn. The winning strategy is often as simple as it is logical: stick together, pick up as much equipment as you can carry, focus on your objective, level-up between missions. Yet, it can still be difficult to execute, as it’s easy to find yourselves split up while chasing an objective or ambushed by an unlucky roll that overwhelms you with enemies.
Like many of games of this ilk, every mission has a story premise, but Rise of the Resistance also peppers small narrations throughout each level that are unlocked by interacting with certain objects on the board. No matter how inconsequential and eye-rollingly cheesy those bits of story are, they manage to create a little interlude between constant dice-rolling and repetitive movement. As a welcome breather, they unite the whole table as the players listen to a little bit of dialogue before going back to their routine of shooting robots.
Perhaps because of the game’s incredible simplicity, the strength of its setting or because its association to the movie of the same name doesn’t exactly inspire high hopes, the mediocrity of Rise of the Resistance becomes almost irrelevant. It is easy to learn and easier to play, but can still be hard to win – and shooting robots with futuristic-sounding weapons is entertaining enough to keep pushing you through the campaign. If that sounds like too much of a time investment, there is always the skirmish mode.
On paper, Rise of the Resistance does not sound like a game that is worth your time. In reality, it doesn’t demand much from you at all, and the time spent will be full of silly mindless fun – until the next, better action game in a box comes along.
PLAY IT? – MAYBE
It doesn’t make much sense or follow any logic, but Rise of the Resistance, despite its many flaws, is simple fun. If nothing else, you can have a good laugh at its clichéd writing.
Designer: Josh Derksen, Thomas M. Gofton, Aron Murch
Artist: Steve Argyle, Josh Derksen
Time: 90-120 minutes
This review originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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