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SummaryTurok is full of silly spectacles
- Ridiculous in the best way possible
- Fluid animation and terrific graphics for the time
- Good sound and ambiance
- Various novelties keep the game from getting dull
- A plethora of weapons to play with
- A lengthy campaign and good boss fights
- Cumbersome controls
- Tedious and confusing level design
- Distance fog is annoying
- Platforming sections can be a pain
The Bottom LineApparently, Turok is based on a vintage comic book series called "Turok: Son of Stone." I found a few of those on my parents bookshelf as a kid, and they were relatively tame and fun stories about the titular Turok and his friend Andar going into a land full of dinosaurs they dubbed "Honkers." Unless there's a different Turok comic that I don't know about, it's clear that the developers of the game didn't pay much mind to the source material in making this the only similarity being that Turok is native American and that there are Dinosaurs in the game. The comics lacked the extreme violence and gore, let alone all the weird science that permeates this games universe.
Turok was actually a pretty big deal when it came out, the first person shooter genre was falling out of flavour around 1997 and the fact that Turok managed to stand out of the crowd was a shocker to most, especially considering the primary platform for the genre was PC and the fact that consoles simply couldn't power most shooters due to their graphic intensive content which required far sturdier hardware. Turok managed to garner attention by taking some fresh spins on the genre, without straying too far. The industry sadly ignored shooters that tried to be different at the time, with classics such as System Shock being buried and lost in time until much later on.
The premise and universe of Turok is absolutely ridiculous but that's a massive part of the games appeal. You play as a time traveling red Indian (Who proclaims "I AM TUROK" and seeing as the game is called Turok, I would assume is named Turok but hardcore fans of the series keep saying his name is actually Tal'set) who must stop some evil something or other named The Campaigner from dominating the universe by going into the past and breeding a race of Cybernetic Dinosaurs and using his advanced technology to arm said Cybernetic Dinosaurs, mutants, and regular humans with devastating weapons of mass destruction.
I'm not joking. It's juvenile and it definitely reeks of the 1990s, but who cares? I don't. The game wouldn't nearly be as fun without the insane background and events, because the game has numerous flaws and one of the largest ones can make the game incredibly tedious and dull: The level design. The levels are confusing, disjointed, and annoying. It doesn't help that there are numerous random encounters that lead to ethereal platforming sections or labyrinthine caves and sometimes you will accidentally step into one of these random events or you will be forced to go in simply because you need the ammo and health that lies within them.
In each level you must collect a series of keys to unlock the next section of the game, and you will have to run all around flipping switches and exploring every nook and cranny. It pads the game out and it can get extremely boring, especially when you kill most of the enemies and are only treated with more baddies to fight when the game decides to randomly spawn some in. This isn't helped by an awful distance fog. Apparently Turok has a severe case of near sightedness because you can only see about 3 feet in front of you at the most.
Despite the distance fog, the graphics are actually very good for the year it came out, let alone the platform. While not on par with Quake II the graphics are on par if not better than most PC FPS games released that year. The jungle is well detailed and you'll see wildlife such as deer, monkeys, and the like interacting with the environment realistically. The animations are extremely fluid and thanks to the animation, death scenes are a cathartic joy to watch and are actually still fairly impressive in a strange way even today.
The AI is surprisingly good as well, the enemies have a surprising range of behaviour and there is a great variety in them. Raptors are speedy and viscous, and if there are multiple raptors in the area they will rendezvous with each other before attacking you. Later on in the game, trained dinosaurs will work together with their human counterpart and their behaviour will change based on the status of one or the other. They all put up a good fight and challenge.
While the challenge is often fine, I will take issue with two elements of challenge that are quite annoying: Control and platforming. Your first instinct is to use the analog stick, right? Wrong. So how do you move Turok? The D-Pad? Nope. To move you have to use the camera buttons, and even then you need the stick to aim and the D-Pad to strafe. At least the A button jumps and Z button shoots. This is probably why Goldeneye didn't let you aim in real time, because controlling a shooter like this with that set up and that evil N64 controller is a pain in the ass.
The platforming sections are frustrating in part of the controls and in part to the distance fog. If a platform is more than 6 feet in front of you, you will have to squint just to recognize its faint outline if you can even make that out. Thankfully there is no falling damage (Though there are bottomless death pits), but it is still a pain to fall down a 50 foot drop, walk around until you find the climbable wall, and restart all over again.
On the whole, Turok is a mixed bag. It's certainly not as fun as it was in 1997, but for 1997 it was a very good game and its still fun to play for its violent and silly novelties. Cybernetic dinosaurs and weapons that put the BFG 9000 to shame keep the gameplay interesting, and if you have a thirst for blood the game has plenty of giblets and horrific death sequences. It should come as no shock that this game was controversial and even I was a little shocked back in 1997 to see such a fluid animation of a man grasping his neck as blood squirted out of an artery and dripped down his body. It's juvenile, silly fun, but time has not aged well regarding the controls, platforming, or overtly complex and confusing design.