In 2002 the “Turok: Dinosaur Hunter” franchise, one of the top-selling series for the Nintendo 64 platform, suddenly died out. This year Propaganda Games took hold of the series and released a new installment. Will “Turok” save the franchise from brink of extinction?
You play as Joseph Turok, a special ops soldier whose story is well told through the various flashbacks throughout the game. After a cinematic crash landing on a planet full of genetically engineered dinosaurs, ruthless mercenaries and really, really big bugs, you explore the planet on a mission for survival and revenge.
Game play is a solid standard first-person shooter setup, point and fire, though what sets the game apart is the knife, which can be used to enact one-hit kill combos that are really brutal and fun to watch. Unfortunately, I found myself using the knife more often than I would have liked because it is much more efficient to use the one-hit kill knife combos than stick to aiming when facing the extremely fast-moving dinosaurs. This creates a lack of variation in attacking the prehistoric predators. Waiting to get close and use the automatic kill with the knife almost becomes systematic and repetitive, no matter how cool it is to watch Turok wrestle the raptor to the ground and inflict death by stabbing.
The bow, the famous weapon of “Turok” makes a comeback, but you’re unable to hold the arrow back for as long as you need to. The idea is to be realistic, but it is still annoying. To make things more interesting, all weapons include a secondary function; with the bow, this function makes the arrows explosive. You are also given the standard and devastating arsenal of really explosive weaponry and the ability to dual wield the hand-held weapon of your choice, including shotguns.
Even with all these weapons in your arsenal, if your face gets munched by hungry lizards or you get shot to pieces, you start over at the checkpoint that you passed…a long time ago. At times if you die, you have to redo a whole section of the level, which can get really repetitive and frustrating. Usually there is only one solution to the situation, and kindest word I can use for some of the boss battles in the game is “frustrating.” It becomes less fun and more “I really just want this to be over” so you can get back into normal firefights.
“Turok” is severely lacking in split screen multi-player. I have noticed this trend in a lot of games lately as if the developers believe that just having online play is satisfactory. What if you want to play with other people in the same room? In “Turok,” a second controller cannot sign in, as you can in “Halo.” You can only play with others over Xbox live. The multiplayer mode includes capture the flag, assault capture the flag, war games and co-op, as well as big and small death matches, all playable on maps infested with dinosaurs trying to eat your face. The only problem is that it took upwards of ten or twenty minutes just to find a game online, probably because the game is so new that few people are playing online. I hope this problem will be solved as more people get the game.
There is a short online co-op mode that for some reason does not follow the single player campaign. As its own game, the co-op play is fun and the three level run-through with friends is a nice change from just blowing each other away.
“Turok” breathes new life into the series: wrestling dinosaurs to the ground is something new, the fighting is fun, and the environments are lush and detailed. The online multiplayer is engaging; grabbing people and knifing them never gets old. Of course, you have to hope that you find these people to play with. Though the long wait I went through to find a game did pay off, it was definitely interesting to play. Players were not the only adversaries and having a giant scorpion come out the ground in front of you really throws you a different angle to the game.
“Turok” even with new features, including online play, is still a mediocre installment to the franchise. Unless you have been a fan of the Turok series from the start I recommend you rent the game before you buy. The story mode can get really frustrating, as at times there is only one way to go about finishing a section; if you fail you get sent way back to the beginning of that section. The end of level battles are extremely difficult, and I predict a lot of people will get so frustrated near the game they won’t even finish the story mode. I suggest you play it for the multiplayer and online co-op with friends and kill dinosaurs together.