Terminator 2: Judgment Day or T2 is a light gun shooter based on the film of the same name, produced by Midway Manufacturing Company as an arcade video game in 1991. Developed in tandem with the movie, several actors from the film reprise their roles for the game and are featured as part of the game’s photorealistic digitized graphics. The game’s plot largely follows that of the film, casting up to two players as the T-800 “terminator” cyborg from the film, sent back in time to protect John Connor from assassination by the T-1000 terminator. A success in arcades, home conversions of the game were released by Acclaim Entertainment for various platforms under the title of T2: The Arcade Game in order to avoid confusion with the numerous tie-in games also based on the movie.
The story of the game falls in line with the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day: to save the leader of the Human Resistance, John Connor, and his mother Sarah from the T-1000, an advanced prototype Terminator bent on killing them both.
The player takes the role of a T-800 Terminator cyborg, already captured and reprogrammed by the human resistance, and fights alongside them against Skynet in the year 2029. Eventually, the T-800 and John Connor penetrate Skynet’s headquarters and destroy the system CPU. Discovering the time displacement equipment, the T-800 is sent back through time to John’s childhood, with the mission to protect him from the T-1000 that Skynet has already sent back. In the past, John, Sarah, and the T-800 launch an attack on Cyberdyne Systems in order to prevent the development and creation of Skynet. The T-1000 catches up to the group and pursues them in a police helicopter and a liquid nitrogen truck. The T-800 is able to freeze and shatter the T-1000 with the liquid nitrogen, but it quickly melts and reforms in order to continue its pursuit of John. Ultimately, the T-800 must stop the T-1000 from killing John and blast it into a vat of molten steel to destroy it.
Two endings are possible, depending on the outcome of the Cyberdyne raid. If all equipment is destroyed, the player receives a message that Judgment Day has been averted; otherwise, the company’s research will continue and Judgment Day remains a possibility.
The game allows one or two players to assume the role of a T-800 cyborg programmed to protect John and Sarah Connor and the resistance fighters against the Skynet offensive. Gameplay is set in a first-person perspective.
The game consists of seven stages, with the first four set during the human/machine war in 2029 and the last three during John’s childhood in the 1990s.
- Cross a battlefield to reach a hideout for human refugees.
- Travel through the hideout, protecting the refugees against Terminators and other attackers.
- Fend off Terminators and hunter-killer aircraft as John drives to the main Skynet facility in a pickup truck. The player can earn a bonus for completing this stage on the first attempt.
- Invade the facility and destroy its main computer, after which the player’s character is transported back in time.
- Destroy as much equipment in the Cyberdyne research lab as possible while employees and SWAT officers fight back. If all equipment is destroyed during this stage, the player earns a large bonus and will receive the better of the two possible endings to the game as described above.
- Fight off the T-1000 as it uses a police chopper and tanker truck to attack the SWAT van in which Sarah and John are escaping to a steel mill.
- Shoot holes in the tanker to douse the T-1000 in liquid nitrogen until it freezes solid; fight off mill workers as John flees through the mill; then knock the T-1000 into a vat of molten steel to destroy it before it can kill John.
If John is killed in the third, sixth, or seventh stages, the player incurs a large health penalty and must replay that stage from the beginning.
The player’s primary weapon is a machine gun, which fires in automatic mode as long as the trigger is pulled. Pressing a button on the side fires a secondary weapon (missiles in 2029, shotgun shells in the 1990s). Gun ammunition is unlimited; however, an on-screen power gauge slowly decreases with extended firing, causing the rate of fire to slow down. The gauge slowly refills when the gun trigger is released. Health/weapon power-ups and ammunition supplies for the secondary weapon are available throughout the game.
At the end of each stage except the sixth, the player scores bonus points for the number and type of destroyed enemies and the amount of damage done, but loses points for every human casualty (first and second stages only).