Review by Aganar
Turok, one of the first shooters for the N64, was developed by Iguana. New gamers barf at the site of Turok for its newest incarnation, Turok Evolution, and its disappointing Turok 3 and Rage Wars. But, older gamers will remember just how good and revolutionary this game was.
Based off an old war comic, Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter is an epic shooter many people forget. You play as Tailset, a member of an ancient Indian Tribe, which is bestowed, with the magical powers of the Turok, a being who has always protected the world. Tailset, the only Turok to ever not die a horrible gruesome death and actually become old enough to retire, has been called up on one last mission.
A powerful minion, the campaigner, has threatened the world. Tailset must venture through the corrupted lands and assemble pieces of the crono-scepter, a legendary weapon. The crono-scepter is supposedly the only weapon which is able to defeat the Campaigner.
Turok was revolutionary in the way that it was the first console shooter with some really big outdoor environments. Instead of just exploring meager space dungeon after space dungeon, you now got really huge outdoor places. From eerie caves to just huge outdoor jungles, this game had it all. There were over 8 different worlds to explore, each one with its own unique theme and some new enemies.
Along with its excellent huge outdoor environments, the enemies and special effects were amazing. Tailset looks very detailed, as do the enemies. The soldiers have ranging polygon counts, all of which range from good to exceptional. Some of the armored guards had some of the best textures available at the time. The raptors, creepers, and other enemies were just amazing.
Seeing the game and comparing it to what else was out at the time, you would wonder how the game managed to look so good. Well, Iguana couldn't figure it out either. So, it had to come at a price. As a result of the polished graphics, the game is overloaded with the most annoying graphical feature and one of the most annoying gaming flaws ever...fog. Fog is the annoying mist, which programmers use so they can allow more detailed pictures on screen. That way, what you can actually see looks good. If you want a game to let you experience what oldschool gamers call the gaming terror that is fog, take a look at this. Nonetheless, if they wanted it to work, what had to be done had to be done.
Judging from the laws of a shooter, this one is a bit strange. Instead of simply killing everything that moves, you are really exploring alot more. You have to look around the areas and find keys to get to new areas. Yes, there is still killing, and it is quite fun. There is a wide range of weapons, ranging from your default knife and bow, to a pistol, a shotgun, and getting more and more advanced and eventually reaching the Crono-scepter and even a miniature fusion cannon! I must warn you though, if you got the fusion cannon I hope you got it through cheats, because unless you have god mode on I doubt even you can survive its blast.
But back on to the topic of the exploration, the game centers more around that than anything else. It manages to combine some platforming with it to allow you to get to new areas. Once reaching the end of one area, there is usually a portal to take you to a new place to find another key, or just fight your way through. To get everything you need you will have to develop your platforming skills, learn how to fight the enemies, and dive deep underwater.
One thing I really must hand to the game is that its atmosphere is great. When you are in the water, you get the extreme feeling of peace and tranquility. However, when I first ran into the creepers in the cave, they scared the crap out of me. The beetles were also damn creepy. And you have no idea how freightening it is when you are running from a creeper, you head into the water where you think it is safe, then there's a creeper waiting for you there and leaps at you.
The game is also quite gory. It was one of the goriest games at the time, in fact. When you killed an enemy, blood splattered at you. If an enemy was running at you and you shot him he would fly back and be floating in a small puddle of blood until he disappeared. There was even a trick where shooting them in just the right spot made them have slow painful deaths instead of fast ones. They would clutch their chest or neck, fall to the ground and groan, then roll over and die. Not to mention what I like to call ''corpse desecration''. If you had an explosive on you, you could shoot it at the corpse and they would continue twitching and bleeding some more.
People forget how much they really owe this game. This is the game that set up the control for console shooters. This is the first one, which had the idea of using the joystick to look around, and the other buttons to move. For those of you which like the control over the other doom style control, you owe your thanks to Turok. Not only that, this was the first console shooter to allow you to jump. Unfortunately, it is still one of the only shooters to let you jump. The jumping allowed for the platforming areas in the game, and provided some challenge.
The music works surprisingly well for the game. In the jungle levels there is not much music, but getting into the caves and farther levels more and more tunes become added. They aren't exactly very complex tunes, instead they favor more of just the typical backdrop for your areas. As such, caves will be quiet tunes, the bosses will have fast paced ones, and the water has a very tranquil tune. As for the sound, it has a good amount of voices. Most of the bosses have their own voice actor, as well as Tailset and some of the minor enemies.
Unfortunately, the game lacks any reason to play all the way through it again. While I love it to death, collecting the keys is good enough for one game. But that is not to say that you will never play it again. Just playing through the first level is a truly liberating experience, and you can pop this game in anytime. If nothing else, you can just go around with all weapons and enjoy nuking everyone (including finally being able to kill those annoying monkeys!).
Overall, this is a really great game. Innovative, polished, and fun. What more could you want? Although now it might feel dated, it is still worthy of at least a try. Considering you can find it for like 20 bucks, it might even be worth buying if you're into shooters. However, if you want a really great shooter, you might want to try Turok 2 instead.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/27/03, Updated 02/27/03
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