Review by McGray
"Does it measure up to the past Turok titles? I believe so."
Turok: Evolution. When I first heard the name of the title, it aroused suspicion and excitement. Would it measure up to the past titles? Would it be good enough for the Turok name? Would it be a disgrace, or would it be completely unlike anything thus far experienced? Turok: Evolution is a mixed bag. With new weapons, smarter AI, Turok: Evolution has a lot to offer, but it's not exactly something we haven't seen before. Read below...
Graphics: They're not bad, but they're not exactly great either. They are GOOD, yes, but nothing ground-breaking. Evolution has decent draw-distance, but nothing impressive. The Sleg designs are, again, nothing spectacular; more just updated versions of Turok 2's designs. For those of you who haven't played Turok 2, let's just say that the models are decent and effective, but the GameCube/Xbox/PS2 is capable of better.
That said, the designs range from the small Sleg Worker classification to the hulking Purrlin in size, and all carry different weapons according to their types. A scout would carry a small rifle, a worker carries a wrench, a Sniper carries a sniper rifle, and so on, and one weapon is visibly different from another.
The animations are very good. It's fun to be able to sneak up behind an unsuspecting Sleg Sniper or Soldier with a pulled back War Club and smash it down onto its head and watch it fall flat on its back while it loses all awareness and dies. Or, to fire a CO²-powered Flechette at a Sleg's leg and watch it splatter to pieces, as the humanoid reptile drops its weapon, clutches its bloody stump of a thigh and hops on one leg before falling to the ground, rocking for a bit, and dying with a satisfying grunt. Yeah, it's all good.
While we're on the subject of horrendous deaths and the loss of limbs, allow me to say that, unlike Turok 2, the blood doesn't pile up in strange pools. This is both good and bad. While I would like the ''pool-effect'' to add to the goriness, it's also nice to know that it doesn't have that thick goop consistency that plagued Turok 2. Instead, it now spurts from lost limbs. As in, sprays. This is a splendid effect. Whenever something loses a head, arm, or leg, it splatters blood all over the place, and when they lie to rest, you see a few more squirts up into the air, leaving fun little blood spatters all over the place. These do, however, eventually dissolve into thin air, as is par for Turok. It's all very pleasing to the eye.
Level texture is varied, from jungles ranging in density, to military war camps, to ruins, and beyond. There is a good deal of variety, and that's always a good addition to a game.
The weapons also have nice artwork and exceptional animation sequences. For instance, just selecting the rocket launcher is a treat: As the launcher itself pops up, metallic and menacingly bulky, a casing pops into the center, loads two small swarm rocket into the sides of the launcher, juts a huge shell into the middle of the casing, and slides it neatly into the launcher's barrel, then covers itself with metallic plating. It's great! Then there are the weapons that are fun to fire, like the Minigun. This little jewel harbors 3 huge barrels, made up of 5 smaller pipes. When you hold the trigger, the 5 smaller pipes in the barrel spin counter-clockwise as the 3 large barrels spin clockwise, then starts spewing out a hail of firepower, making it the most damaging bullet-firing weapon in the game. Genius.
Plants are varied as well, from shrubs to large palm trees. Sprites are still in use for much of the plant life around here, and and textures can get rather pixely up close. To add to that, jaggies haven't completely abandoned this game either. In fact, compared to many of the newer titles out, this game seems to be plagued with them. Nonetheless, the graphics are, most of the time, well done.
Lighting effects are also used, but those can be good and bad, depending on what weapon, the area, etc. Let's just say, games have seen better lighting.
Sound: Nice music, excellent sound effects and very good work on the voice acting. Sound is a very good part of this game.
Story: Not bad, but could've been better. Basically, it's November of 1886. You are Tal'Set, a young warrior-brave of the Saquin Nation, an Indian Tribe. Your clan has just been unwillingly engaged in a brutal battle against Captain Tobias Bruckner. They've got the guns, so naturally they decimate the numbers of the Saquin tribe. Chief Grey Bear, leader of the tribe, caught a sniper's bullet to the stomach, and has died. Tal'Set and the remaining braves step up to the plate and attempt to make a last fight for vengeance. Tal'Set takes a bullet to the liver, and already dying, he savagely rushes at Bruckner, desperately attempting to avenge his people. He begins a deadly melee at cliff side with the Captain, and a landslide causes them both to tumble into a cavern, covered in runes and artifacts and symbols and all sorts of weird things. As Tal'Set's blood is spilt on the ground, an otherworldly reaction is triggered, and the chamber becomes a flash of lightning and electricity. A stray bullet hits a powder keg that fell into the room with them, and the chamber explodes and caves-in, while Bruckner and Tal'Set are sent through a portal to the distant world of the Lost Land. There, Tal'Set is brought back from the brink of death by the mysterious Seer, TarKeen. After returning to good health, you take up the controller and play as Tal'Set to uncover the mystery behind the Lost Land.
Gameplay: Turok: Evolution is not an easy game to get the hang of. It has a large learning curve, mostly due to its completely off-the-wall controls. They make no sense at first, but after a while they seem to be one of the best ways to go. At least, that's my take. However, weapon scrolling always had me confused. B is to move forward through the weapon cycle, while Y is to move back. That always got me. Add to that that there is no cycle window to show you what weapon your on, as in the original Turok; now it's just a matter of counting the number of times you press the button to get to the specific weapon. It's a hit-and-miss situation, which can lead to confusion. Not good, especially in the heat of battle when you can't find your dang MiniGun, only to find out that you don't have it with you. That's another annoying issue. If you run out of ammo with a particular gun, you can't use it. That's a given. But if you still have no ammo for it by the end of the level, then it's gone until you find it again. Seriously. I was without a pistol for over 8 chapters when I played, all because I ran out of pistol ammo and beat a level without any. They took my pistol from me, and I had to beat the game pistol-less. This can get extremely agitating if you're not careful. Plus, some weapons will be taken from you as you progress to new levels no matter how much ammunition you keep stocked up with it, like for example the ordinary bow. At about the 3rd chapter it is inexplicably taken from you. Not a big loss, but a plausible example.
Speaking of weapons, they are varied and unique, which is very good altogether. Most weapons have a secondary function you can use in times of need. By simply pressing X you will switch the weapon to its secondary function, provided you have the appropriate upgrade and ammunition for it. Some weapons even have a 3rd function. The first weapon you use with another function is your War Club, your basic melee weapons. It almost resembles a small hatchet, with the blunt end having 5 spines jut vertically from the back of it. Press R, the attack button, to rapidly swing with the bladed side, and use it as a nasty and quick weapon. Hold the R button, and Tal'Set will spin the club around to the spiked side, the hold the club over his shoulder (out of screen) and keep it there for as long as the R button is held. When released, it will smash down upon the victim or whatever else is there, and put the hurt on it. Just skip the one and come with the two, baby, yeah! ...Anyway, that's not a traditional secondary function, just an example of the diversity of the weapons. The Tek Bow, for instance, has several different uses. It's an extremely versatile weapon with regular arrows, Explosive Arrows, and even Poison Arrows. When an enemy is hit with a Poison Arrow, they will drop their weapon and fall to their knees, and then start violently vomiting until they finally fall onto their sides and, with a final grunt, cease to live. This happens only with the right dosage, though. If you over-expose them to the toxin (by firing multiple arrows), they'll drop their weapons suddenly, clutch their throat and fall to the ground. Others, I.E., the larger enemies, will only be slightly affected by the poison, every once and a while kneeling over to take a quick puke then go back to their positions. While not directly killing them, it can give you time to get a few decent shots in. Anyway, add to 3 types of arrows that the Tek Bow has, a 2-range zoom (medium and long-range) sniper capability, accessible by pressing Z, and you've got a winning weapon.
Of course, they do get much more complicated as you progress. There are really only 12 weapons in the entire game, but counting weapons functions, you've got about 24, which isn't bad at all.
The game's difficulty is extremely high. I'd say this game gets a 7 out of 10 as far as difficulty goes. One contributor, like it or not, is the AI. This AI is very advanced. Some enemies will run straight up to you and attack, while other enemies will actually take cover behind things to attack. Some enemies, once they reach critical damage, will surrender themselves, falling onto their knees and putting their hands on their heads, while some will run away, while still others will fight till the death. Enemies hunt in squads, usually with a few scouts, a few soldiers clad with shotguns, and a sniper or two. Often times you'll find a demolition expert, too. The book says that all squads are lead by Captain, but, believe it or not, I have yet to see one, and I've beaten the game. Rumor has it that if the Captain is killed, chaos will run throughout the squad and they won't know what to do. Of course, I still haven't seen this. Maybe one day...
Each different enemy has different stats and personalities. For example, all Worker Slegs have 60 hit points, can swim and climb, can see and hear up to 40 meters, will follow orders 100% of the time, rarely use cover, and are 50% likely to flee or surrender at critical damage. Meanwhile, the average Soldier Sleg has 100 hit points, can hop-evade, swim and climb, see and hear up to 50 meters, will follow orders 80% of the time, frequently use cover, and are only 10% likely to flee or surrender at critical damage. Like said before, this makes different enemy behaviors for each breed of Sleg. Most Sleg units will take cover, while others will charge at you and try to destroy you no matter what. And the squads and teams and such are usually placed at very strategic locations, meaning that if you just decided to walk into a room, you shouldn't be surprised to find two soldiers on either side of the doorway with a sniper somewhere overhead, all aimed at you and ready for action. Such things are quite common. Then you have the ambush factor, where you walk into a place and then, ''BAM!'' here comes the cavalry. Then you've got a ton of different enemies on you, some taking cover, popping out to fire then hiding again, with others up in your face, doing their best to scrape your nose off. Thus, this game is very difficult.
With this AI that I speak so highly of, make no mistake that there are indeed some flaws. For instance, enemies taking cover only to be fully exposed. It's very strange. Sometimes they'll have a boulder right next to them. They ''take cover'', thus, squat down, but the boulder will be three feet away. And something that sometimes ticks me off to no end, is that with some enemies, you can be as quiet as in ninja, and somehow they'll know your there. Sneak up, do whatever you can, but they'll know your there. Other times you can jump around and kill things and make a crapload of noise behind some guy's back, and that guy won't know your there until either A) You hurt him, or B) You walk into his line of sight. This doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen, and when it does, it makes me mad.
The levels aren't played in traditional Turok style. Instead, they are played through in levels, and your game auto-saves for you at the end of each. No save points or check points in the middle of a level, so if you die, it's back to the start of the level. Same ammo, but with 100% health, regardless of how it previously was. That always helps, but when you find yourself at the end of a mission that you've been so cautious in, and make one slip up or forget to kill that one Sleg that comes back to haunt you, you're dead. The worst part about this? The load times. Another of the bad aspects of Turok: Evolution. The load times are horrendous. To get to the title screen you have a 25 second load time. For the average level to load, it's typically more than that. You get used to it, but could it have been avoided, it would be a much less painful process. The flying levels actually load with 5-10 seconds, generally, and that's good.
The length of each level themselves vary. Some levels will be fast-paced with nothing but skill, luck and good reflexes to pull you through, while others should be handled with utmost finesse. On a stealth level, be stealthy. If you fail to realize that you are outnumbered, the Sleg will be all over you like Elvis on a pound of bacon.
Then there are the flying levels. These are fun, but are only really there to get you off of the tense first-person levels. These levels are fast-paced and a lot of fun to play, but just don't seem to have anything to do with the storyline that couldn't be done in first-person perspective.
The Quetzalcoatlus, your prehistoric, weapon-mounted bird, flies around this level. R is to use the machine gun ammunition, which is infinite, and L fires the rockets, which are limited in supply, but much stronger and also have a lock-on ability. Steering is basic, with B to bank right, X to bank left, Y to speed up and A to slow down, and of course the control stick to steer. Then you just go about your mission objectives as usual. It's fun, but again, it's only a distraction from the real game.
Last but not least of these issues is the multi-player. To be brief, the multi-player is far improved over Rage Wars, and is actually fun to play. There are several different ways to play, such as Capture the Flag, Blood Bath, Sniper Matches, Flight Matches, and others. The weapons are all there, and there are enhancement Idols to make you faster, stronger, etc., and 13 unique levels to keep you entertained for a while, each with their own little surprises to discover.
Replay Value: I can't honestly say this game has a whole lot. I'm going through it again now with cheats on, which is always fun, but not necessary. I guess if you waited a few months you could come back to it, as is usual for just about any game. It's decent, but it's not the best out there.
Rent or Buy?: It really depends on the person. Some say this game is the best in Turok yet, others say it's the worst thing since Spam. Give it a rent at least, and if it tickles your fancy, maybe you could consider picking it up. It is a very long game, and it has a decent multi-player as well.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/22/02, Updated 09/22/02
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