RIP Terminal Reality

One semi-small piece of news that may have slipped by you last week concerns the closure of game studio Terminal Reality. It’s most well-known for making the BloodRayne games but it also did stuff like Monster Truck Madness, 4 x 4 Evolution, and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. I haven’t played any of those games though. I wasn’t even especially upset until I remembered the studio’s first two games: Terminal Velocity and Microsoft Fury3.

Fury3 back in 1995 was probably the first PC game I seriously played. It might have even been the first 3D game I played, roughly a year before Mario 64. I think it was even the first Windows 95 game, and Windows 95 was kind of my big introduction into personal computing (not my first but the most significant for me). So at the very least I have to do a blog about the developer that helped define the foundations of my gaming experience.

Come to think of it, another title I can lay on Fury3 is that it was probably the first CD-ROM game I ever played or owned, around the same time the PlayStation came out. Thus it was the first time I got exposed to CG cut scenes (which look laughable today) with arranged music. The opening cut scene explaining how you’re the last hope of the world with the dramatic launch of your ship in this flight combat game still sticks out in my mind. It’s probably to me what the cut scenes in Final Fantasy VII were to a lot of people.

It wasn’t just about the game being 3D either. Installing Fury3 today (still got the CD, it actually runs on Windows Vista without a hitch) and thinking about how I felt playing it back then, it made really good use of the 3D worlds it rendered. Back then the levels felt huge as you flew over mountains and strafed what looked like cities and battalions of tanks rolling over the hills, charting your next objective on a map. I’m still not sure if the game even limits how far you can fly, and the fact that you can fly over the clouds makes me really feel as if I can fly across a whole planet.

Fury3’s design itself is also remarkably simple. You pretty much just fly and shoot stuff, but there’s enough going on that it feels close enough to a flight simulator. Weapons to try out, dozens of enemies to shoot down, and even secrets to find.

I was surprised to find out earlier this year that Fury3 is really just a level pack for a game Terminal Reality had released earlier the same year — Terminal Velocity, because Microsoft was impressed with it and wanted a game to tout for Windows 95. So I went ahead and picked up Velocity on GOG (should be on sale as of this writing) and took it for a spin. Turns out it and Fury3 are almost the same game.

The story is different, the models are different, and the maps are different, but gameplay-wise it’s pretty much the same game. So far I’ve only tried out the first world but I do intend to get as far as I can so I can effectively get some brand new Fury3 action.

I should also probably mention Hellbender — the sequel to Fury3. Having come out a year later, I feel like Hellbender is a far more obscure game, which is ironic because it took everything from Fury3 and made it significantly more robust.

Terminal Reality took the cut scenes and lore a lot further for starters. The levels also felt more intricate with complex structures you had to explore and more complex weapons to use. The simple act of flying your ship felt so different that it took a while before I could sit down and seriously put my mind to the game. Unfortunately I can’t get my disc to install on modern Windows.

Maybe one day when I’m bored I might take a look at BloodRayne since it seems to have been popular. Terminal Reality kinda did end up making much lower-end games after the PS2 era. The way I see it, it suffered the same fate as a lot of small and middle-sized console developers. They faced the choice of either fading into obscurity or gambling their futures on needlessly expensive AAA games. It would’ve been nice to see another flight game from them or from anyone really in these times.


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