Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 66% (based on 71 ratings)
Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 39 ratings with 1 reviews)
The Turok series is still viewed with reverence by Nintendo 64 fans, along with Goldeneye, as one of the first games to really get the concept of a console first person shooting experience right. While competing FPS on other consoles like Powerslave and Duke Nukem 3D on other consoles were good, they were merely ports that did nothing to really capitalise on the strength of each console. With success for the failing Acclaim came a sequel, then a tournament shooter, then another sequel. This is where the series began to stray so far from its roots that it barely resembled the Turok we all knew and loved anymore. Gone were the sprawling, fantastical jungle environments, replaced by ducts, corridors and building interiors.
Turok changed, into Half Life, and we were left with a game that while good, was not what we expected from a Turok title. Acclaim Austin, formerly Iguana Entertainment took criticism of Shadow of Oblivion on board and crafted Turok: Evolution for the Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox. We got our jungle environments back, along with dual analog, an up to date weapons roster and some nifty flight sequences shoe horned into the experience. Evolution had its issues with frame rate, frequent loading, ropey animation and bad voice acting but it was more like Turok than we had experienced since Seeds of Evil and it was a breath of fresh air.
Then Acclaim Austin folded. Turok was in limbo and a new game was on the way. Touchstone Games picked up the license and gave it to Propaganda Games and a little while later, we got a freshly baked Turok game.
In “Turok” you play Joseph Turok. A Kiowa Native American who was recruited into Whiskey Company due to his familiarity with the leader of a violent Mercenary band known as “Wolfpack”. En-route to a planet where Wolfpack is supposedly holed up Whiskey Company’s ship is shot down and then, with tensions rising amongst the group, they formulate a plan of escape back to Earth.
The first thing you’ll notice in Turok is that occasionally it looks beautiful. On more than one occasion you can see into the distance where Brachiosaurus are grazing, Pteradons are sailing through mountain ranges set against a watercolour sky. It’s quite magical at times. The dinosaurs look fantastic. They are animated realistically and exude an air of menace as they stalk the many caves and military complexes you will end up traversing. The scale of some of them is pretty terrific, most notably the Tyrannosaurus, while even the smaller dinosaurs like the Compsognathus run up to you with a curious nod of their head before skittering for cover. You’ve probably noticed by now that I love dinosaurs. Anyway.
Control is basically good. Turok moves and turns promptly enough and can hold two weapons alongside his bow and knife. One of the best parts of the game is how lethal the knife is. Anything can be killed with a simple tap of the right trigger prompting a brilliantly choreographed kill move either quietly or full frontal. It never becomes redundant, alongside the bow, and in that the balance that Propaganda managed to strike is quite accomplished.
The bow, either equipped with regular or Tek arrows is quite lethal. It’s a brilliant stealth weapon when used in tall grass or from behind a box or girder and can even be used tactically; if you’re good at using it.
I’ll be honest here, I didn’t love this game. It frustrated me endlessly with a parade of bad AI, physics glitches and shoddy level design.
To begin with most weapons secondary functions are basically useless or redundant. Dinosaurs are fast, angry and when there are more than three of them, will kick your ass. Grenades, unless the trajectory is calculated perfectly, will often miss their targets and hit you instead. The pulse rifle and flamethrower have a virtually identical secondary fire, the pistol is plain useless and the mini-gun is so inaccurate you’ll be lucky to hit anything at a distance. Very little thought went into the weapons in Turok, and considering the series is known for its outlandish, brutal weaponry a mini gun that turns into a turret isn’t really breaking any records for originality here.
To make the combat more frustrating Propaganda has included some “realism” in the game. I understand why they did this, and when it happens the first few times it is actually kind of cool and immersive but you learn to hate it near the end of the game. If you’re hit with a grenade, or a Dinosaur charges you, you will get knocked on your ass facing the wrong direction. There is a particular moment where you are tasked with killing an RPG wielding soldier however if you don’t hammer him with grenades he just rains a hell fire of RPG rockets at you, knocking you this way and that until the screen turns red for the 4 millionth time.
You die so often in this game it’s ridiculous. On Normal, four or five hits from a pulse rifle and you’ll be taking a dirt nap. Fighting more than three Dinosaurs at once? Just kill yourself. To make matters worse the checkpoint system is woefully inadequate. Instead of rewarding you with a checkpoint after a particularly gruelling fight you basically have to endure waves and waves of enemies and then a giant walking tank before the game decides you have proven yourself worthy of not having to do all of it again. You don’t always know which direction you’re being shot at from either, and I have been shot at through solid rock before. It’s a joke.
The level design is lazy and predictable. If Propaganda hadn’t yet convinced you Turok was just another license “modernised” to keep up with current trends the level design seals the deal. Gone are the sprawling, vivid jungles of games past. Gone are the ancient stone temples full of glyphs and carvings and interesting designs. Instead we get rock and metal. Everything is made of rock. There’s a little bit of grass, and a hell of a lot of rock. The environment seems to be constructed entirely out of big pieces of rock, like you’re just traversing one big mountain with a bit of moss on it. When you see trees, it’s a relief. It’s that overdone. Then there are the levels set in caves. For about half an hour you’re tasked with traversing a cave. It’s one of the most boring, monotonous levels in any game I have ever played. It features three enemy types, and one of those enemies is a boss. Then there are the levels set in military complexes. You have literally unlimited artistic license to produce any kind of environment you want because it’s the Lost Land which sucks things out of hundreds of dimensions and places and you go and make four or five levels set in military complexes. Bravo sir, you earned your $100,000 a year.
Also, the script is inane. Not only is the dialogue predictable and occasionally cringe worthy but the entire story is basically just Aliens. Also, don’t you think if Whisky Company was being sent to a hostile planet they would know just a little bit about it. It’s tantamount to saying; “O.k troops, our target is here somewhere, we don’t know where exactly and we’re not sure what country we’re actually sending you to and we don’t know what language they speak or what they look like but we’re sure you’ll find something. You’re smart guys.” I mean, how could they not know there are Dinosaurs on this planet. We’ve mastered interstellar travel but we can’t look at the surface of a planet and say; “Oh holy shit, Dinosaurs, screw that.” On the topic of the Dinosaurs they are just there. There’s this overdone, hackneyed story about old loyalties and comrade tensions and then occasionally it’s like Propaganda just said “Oh, there’s Dinosaurs too.” They are just inserted randomly when they felt like mixing things up. Too much emphasis is put on the derivative interactions with the human antagonists.
There’s multiplayer as well. But no one plays it anymore.
The Bottom Line
Turok is just another modern First Person Shooter. It’s not Turok, it’s got Turok in it but it’s not Turok. You could say I’m just pining for nostalgia but if you’re going to just throw together another status quo FPS with little imagination and broken game design and put the name of one of my favourite franchises on it then yeah, I’m going to have an issue with it.
I’m not saying Turok is totally without redemption. It is occasionally entertaining but there are so many missed opportunities, technical issues and game design missteps that is is inexcusable for such a venerable pedigree to be reduced to this.
Check out Turok if you’re curious. It’s at least playable.
Xbox 360 · by AkibaTechno (238) · 2011
Contributors to this Entry
Critic reviews added by Wizo, Big John WV, Jeanne, Cantillon, Spenot, Tim Janssen, beetle120, Zaibatsu, Patrick Bregger, Jacob Gens, Yearman, DreinIX, Arejarn, Alsy, SiberiumSkalker, chirinea, vicrabb, Xoleras, Evgenii Andzhe, vedder, CalaisianMindthief, Cavalary, Utritum, Joel Segerbäck, Alaka.