Many years ago Acclaim produced a new game called Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. This game was loved amongst both critics and gamers, mainly because of the beautiful graphics and over the top weaponry. After Acclaim stopped existing the series was believed to be as extinct as a Brontosaurus. But look, a few years and a resurrection later we can enjoy Turok and his prehistoric friends once more.
If you haven’t heard about this game, I’ll give you a quick update. You play Joseph Turok, a native American who has been recruited by a bunch of space marines, Whiskey Company, to track down his former mentor Kane, leader of Wolf Pack, on some distant planet. As the cliche wants it, their ship is shot down while approaching the planet. The rest of the game can be summarised like this: find your crew, kill dinosaurs, find the radio and get the hell out. As fun as this may sound, it isn’t a storyline at all. You’ll get some flashbacks here and there and run into Kane’s right hand man once, but at the end of the game you feel like you accomplished or learned nothing due to the lack of a proper storyline.
This pattern, something that looks cool but turns out to be a disappointment later, is something that you’ll find a lot in this game. Take for instance one of the first levels. At a certain point you’ll get a magnificent view over the jungle you’re about to enter. Gigantic dinosaurs are munching some leaves off a big tree and everything looks absolutely stunning but when you get into the jungle you won’t find a single trace of these giant beasts. Maybe they became extinct over those few hours?
The dinos you do encounter move very realistically, if you can say such a thing about beings that haven’t been spotted on this planet the last few thousand years, but their skin sometimes looks like it’s make of fluorescent plastic. This does however not happen a lot so it doesn’t really hurt the game.
Something that will prevent you from really enjoying yourself is the combination of sluggish controls, a low number of checkpoints and enemies that are just simply too strong. This will result in having to play the few minutes before a boss-fight over and over again until you find the trick to nail it. The complete lack of info or tips on how to tackle these bosses will have you dying a lot more than you would want to. Personally, I had a few moments on which I wanted to throw my controller at my screen, for instance after being killed for the 10th time by a bunch over super sized scorpions. Don’t even ask me how they managed to sneak into this game, it’s one big mystery.
The gameplay can be split up into two parts. On one hand you have the jungle survivor levels in which you’ll have to deal with a whole collection of dinosaurs, mostly based on the real ones, and on the other hand you’ll get the gunfights against soldiers of Wolf Pack. Every now and then these two world meet but instead of being very exciting, the best tactic here is to wait a bit and clean up the mess for engaging both parties at the same time will result in both of them turning against you and inadvertibly your death.
To get rid of all this scum you’ll get a pretty nice arsenal. Machineguns, shotguns and rocket launchers are common weapons you’ll find in almost every FPS. There are however a few specials like the Sticky Bomb Gun to mix it all up. You can have a maximum of two weapons of choice on you at all times and some of them are ‘dual wieldable’ which also adds a little varaity to the gameplay. The other two weapon slots are occupied by two classic arms from the Turok games, the knife and bow. These will kill most enemies in one strike and they’re absolutely silent. The knife is by the way the most effective way of dealing with a big group of blood thirsty raptors. Time it right and you’ll start a bloody yet brilliant animation. Too bad the makers didn’t put more stealth moments into the game so you could use these legendary weapons to their fullest potential. The game is basically one big bullet festival with some throat slitting on the side.
The online modes are having the same kind of problems the campaign mode has. The offering of different matches (Deathmatch, CTF, …) is certainly not very original but the addition of dinosaurs in the multiplayer sessions gives them a nice twist. However, when it comes down to it, there are still games around that offer a lot more online fun.
In short you could say that this Turok is a rough diamond that could have been brilliant given more cutting. Right now the game lacks a bit refinement to really compete with the best. It’s certainly an ideal rental game, just because hunting down dinosaurs is so cool, but I’m afraid it’s also nothing more.