Written by  :  Zovni (10653)
Written on  :  Oct 04, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars

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A console fps that rocks?? Yep. And it's made by Acclaim too!!

The Good

Turok is a living oddity, a good console fps? A good console fps by Acclaim?? Has the world gone mad? Have I smoked too much of that wacky tobacky? Nope, brace yourself man, because believe it or not, for as dreadful as it may sound... Turok is a blast!

Based on the now dead Acclaim comic of the same name Turok: Dinosaur Hunter casts you as Joshua, the latest in the line of "Turoks", ancient native-american guardians of the balance between our earth dimension and a wacky Lost World-like dimension where dinosaurs roam the earth and a wide variety of hostile humanoid creatures reside.

As usual some bad ass mofo nicknamed "The Campaigner" has decided it's time for earth to go boom by using a Chronoscepter thingie to rip the universes apart, so it's up to you to traverse the dino-world collecting the keys that will unlock the portal to the Campaigner's citadel and kick his ass for good.

Got that? Complex I know, but serviceable enough. The game progresses as a standard hub-based fps where you start from this portal node that takes you to different locations in the game world thanks to Turoks plane-shifting powers. This structure helps mask to a degree the linearity of what's basically a traditional shooter, and gives you the opportunity to re-visit each level in case you missed a health boost power-up or a key weapon.

The levels themselves are very impressive in their architecture, sure most consist simply of open areas, but even the simplest level in the game is filled with winding hills, strange structures, twisty underwater caves and all other sorts of imaginative landmarks. Believe it or not, it makes exploring the game a truly unique experience, as you explore every nook and cranny in search for a new weapon, or whatever may be in store for you with a true sense of interest and not just to see what the hell lies ahead or what monster awaits for you in that strange temple-like structure. Turok's world is one of the most visually interesting places ever conceived for a traditional fps and makes each location a gameplay bonanza of epic proportions as you dart through jungles and cliffs, or strike dark temples and imposing bunkers.

And speaking of monsters, Turok was one of the earlier fps games that included really amazingly animated beasts, featuring motion-captured moves on every humanoid creature that makes them run, attack and die in very realistic ways (watch what happens when you shoot someone in the neck!), and a collection of very imaginative enemies that can pose some serious challenges (the missile-launching triceratops that squashes it's rider when it dies and the T-Rex boss near the endgame take all the awards alone). And all rendered with a smooth, fully polygonal engine that sports such flashy effects as camera tilting, image distortion and particle effects, and even a pre-Max Payne bullet-time wanna-be effect which is caused by a power-up that makes you hyper fast and puts the whole world in slow mo!

Of course, no fps would be complete with a hefty dose of action, and Turok delivers by truckloads. You'll face hundreds of varied enemies in a wide variety of settings, and contend with challenging jumping puzzles as well as truly challenging boss fights (once again the T-Rex takes the award). And just how do you take care of those wackos? Rough language? Hell no, guns baby!! 14 of them to be exact!!! Turok was the first game that I could remember that had a truly massive arsenal, everything from an explosive bow (take that Rambo!) to a chaingun is here, complete with bitching sound and visual effects and some cool death animations and damage effects. Oh, and as demanded by international fps laws, you also have the requisite "ultimate weapon" that puts all other toys to shame... and what a weapon it is!! The Chronoscepter has to be assembled by collecting all eight of it's pieces around the game world and has only 3 shots, but once you fire it up you see why the baby kept you waiting! Launching all sorts of particle and lightning effects, the Chronoscepter causes shockwaves to ripple all over the screen as pillars of light emerge from the target area, the whole level shakes and comes alive with lightning bolts and everything that was even remotely in it's firing direction just dies, in a word? Kickass!!!

The Bad

The worst flaws in Turok come courtesy of it's console roots. First of all, as a way of maximizing the small save game space of the N64, the save game keeps track of your stats, items and unlocked areas, and allows you to save only in the hub area. So in essence we have 3D Megaman, as every baddie just comes back from the dead in the exact same spot as the game respawns every area over and over again. The game uses a live-based system that allows you to continue a level from one of their various checkpoints if you die somehow, but if you lose all your lives you have to start from the beggining and redo the whole thing until you get it right and save your progress...I don't know about you, but with counted exceptions I hate these sort of cheap-o systems, more reminiscent of an 8-bit famicom game than of a next-generation 3D game...

Then there are the jumping puzzles, they are quite a bunch, and they can pose some serious challenges, and they may rub you the wrong way if you don't get used to them early on. After all I don't need to point out the difficulties these puzzles pose when viewed from a first-person perspective.

And last but not least.... the fog....


Let's see, you have an underpowered 64-bit console only good for Mario games and a game with lots of open areas, so what do you do??? You extend the draw distance about 12 feet from you and just obscure the rest of the world with a fogging effect... greeeeeeeaat.... And nevermind the fact that this is a conversion based on a much more powerful platform that can be upgraded, so why would they bother to rework their engine so that you could control the draw distance instead of hardwiring it to the lackluster N64 specs if it's much easier to just carbon copy the damn thing as it is?... bastards....

Oh yeah, there's also the fact that the game doesn't exploit the Turok character much. In the comics he's a witty Spider-Man like renegade hero that would rather weasel his way out of any responsability than be a superhero. In the game he's just a generic asskicker out to save the world... Oh well...

The Bottom Line

As you can see the game really shocked me when I got my hands on it a while after it hitted the PC platform. If there's anything I expected from a first generation N64 fps game believe me that it wasn't for it to be fun, challenging and imaginative. Sure, it also comes with plenty of console-related problems, but one can clearly see after giving it a go why Acclaim is still churning out sequels to this fantastic shooter. A definitive blast for action fans.