Vancouver’s Propaganda Games sharpens the blade of the popular Turok series creating a lean and mean killing machine for the PS3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms. The 2008 version of the aboriginal hero Turok returns with a new attitude set of weapons and a fashionable Mohawk hair cut. In the jungles of a terraformed planet, Turok turns the hunted into the hunter as he takes out an army of militant deviants.
If you’re been a gamer since the late 90s then you will likely remember the PC, N64 released first-person shooter Turok. Based from a comic book of all things the Turok was a strong hit with gamers showcasing its innovative take on the first-person shooter genre. Unfortunately, in my hazy memory, this Turok game was the only one that stood out amongst a group of Turok spin-offs that followed the franchise all the way up to Turok: Evolution in 2002. Acclaim’s run with Turok never seemed to reach the high status that was expected from the franchise, so reviving the franchise six years later seems like a risky, but worthy chance to take. Under the helm of Propaganda Games and Touchstone, we have the seventh version of Turok set out to impress and bring the mighty Turok out of game-tirement.
Propaganda’s Turok takes off the series back to its primal self; Turok is a strong character who needs a strong plot along with dark and aggressive gameplay. Turok has never been a little baby, and when you grab the controller and slice your ORO P23 combat knife deep into chest you’ll see the vicious side of Turok. Turok has been known to be violent in the past, cerebral bore anyone? But now, it seems the vicious and violent nature of Turok is more bluntly in your face with the impact of a small handheld knife. Turok attacks without refrain, and turns out to be just as much as an animal as the prehistoric monsters he’ll face.
A Shot of Whiskey
The story itself doesn’t follow any of the previous train wrecks. Turok has a fresh start with a group of new allies and enemy to converse with. As Joseph Turok you are hired to accompany a group of soldiers called Whiskey Company into a strange plant to apprehend the rouge soldier Roland Kane. Turok who used to be a member of Kane’s black ops squad Wolf Pack is the perfect man to join this elite commando team and get the job done. What should have been a routine jump in and out mission turns into a long adventure into a planet with deadlier beasts then Kane and I’m talking about man-eating dinosaurs. As you’re spacecraft is blown out of the sky you will search for survivors and find out what your old pal Kane has been up to and bring him to justice, Turok style.
Kill or Be Killed
After your crashed onto this unknown planet that is running ramped with lush vegetation and prehistoric dinosaurs and now the inclusion of Kane’s army you will have to survive one encounter after another. Turok is built in a linear structure, but since the wide-open level design leaves some freedom to approach problems and enemies in multiple ways. Besides multiple paths in the level design, you can choose your approach style. You can work with the dinosaurs and try to get them to prey on your enemy, or you can walk in the shadows, stealth-like and slice their individual throats, or you can simple go in guns blazing and kick them when they are down. All these options really help create a visual world that seems large than it is. The levels usually have periods where you can sense the developer gives you the edge for either stealth-like action, and at the same time, Propaganda kicks up the adrenaline with some big gun fights that would be impossible to approach in any other matter. From indoor to outdoor environments, Turok has a good balance, but of course, it’s the outdoors that really stands out and really helps distinguish Turok from most other first-person shooters.
Turok has some fresh idea’s that haven’t been seen at this level in other first-person shooters, however at the same time Turok suffers from flaws that could have been avoided. The main problem I had with Turok is the games save pacing. Turok supports a safe feature, but that only rewinds the game to the last auto-save, so basically all you have is the auto-save feature. The issue I have with Turok’s auto save is that is spread to far apart and not after major gameplay moments. This makes a death really painful when you have to go back 20 minutes of gameplay time to a previous checkpoint. I don’t know how many times I had to re-play large sections of the game only to get a little further without any checkpoints. Even clearing objectives doesn’t always trigger an auto-save which can be more annoying. More than annoying, this causes Turok to be unnecessary frustrating. It wouldn’t have taken much to balance the checkpoints out a little better, I can understand Propaganda wanting to give gamers more of a challenge by limiting auto-saves, but in my estimation they are drawn out too much.
Other flaws in Turok come in the way of game stuttering when the game saves, or its loading up a new section of the map. These hiccups don’t ruin the gameplay, but it does disturb the games flow. Another small issue that tampers with the games natural flow is the weapon selection. The speed you can select weapons mainly the melee weapon is slower than I would have liked. Pulling out the knife should be a fast natural reaction because at times you need it that quickly, since you have press the d-pad then wait for the animation, kick spontaneous kills with the knife forced me in to mainly using the knife as my weapon. For the majority of the game I ran through the levels with my knife out because it’s the quickest way to dispose of an enemy. It feels really cool to be running through knee high grass hunting your enemies like a touch of death in the wind; however I feel like the knife should have been quicker to access then the other weapons, so you could have a better rounded balance of using all the weapons.
Bows are better than Guns
Besides guns, sticky bombs, and flamethrowers, Turok has his standby bow. The bow is a good weapon and I liked how Propaganda included the weapon. The bow and knife are two weapons that can’t be inner changed and become extremely important to effect killing and creating the native warrior persona. Like Turok’s squad mates you might laugh at the use of a bow, until it comes down to impaling enemies with deadly accuracy and gets quick kills. Then its time to shut up and let the bow do the talking. Aside from the bow and knife, Turok can dual wield two other weapons, but it’s only two. At one time you can only have two “other” weapons in your possession which adds a little caution in the mix when grabbing for the nearest gun.
Run Turok Run
Turok really starts out strong, you will be wrapped in by its violent nature, impressive and gritty knife kill animations and wide open views. The idea of fighting off raptors while being flanked aggressive enemies’ works for a while and then like a lot of other games they can be repetitive. Unfortunately after you meet your first T-Rex and knife a few dozen guards there isn’t too much to look keep you surprised. Then you have to add the frustration of the auto-saves system. I was a little disappointed by enemy A.I. that over time wears on the gameplay. I would have also liked a stealth bar, or sometime of indicator implemented in the game because you’re never sure if the enemy can see you or not. At times you’ll be right in front of a soldier and they won’t blink an eye and then other you think you’re hidden, but they can see you. A number of games like Call of Juarez and Thief have done an excellent job with this aspect and without a defined update on the characters hidden status it hurts the concept of stealth in the game.
Multiplayer Loves Achievements
If you’re done with fighting against Kane’s questionable mercenaries you can access some multiplayer gaming which also ties into most of the Xbox 360 achievements. Multiplayer features a few co-op missions that are a little short and seem to be a later add-on, more importantly than grabbing the co-op achievements is fighting against human opponents. The core multiplayer action is very competitive and offers a new rejuvenation to the single player campaign. The multiplayer modes are only the standard deathmatch, team detahmatch, and capture the flag which is enough to keep gamers interested for a little while, although like most things in Turok you will need patience. The matchmaking servers seems to be running slow taking upwards to five minutes to find a match. After the wait, its pure action with knife wielding crazies.
When I first played the Turok demo last year, I was a certain Propaganda games had a sure winner on their hands. Turok seemed like it was going to be an early competitor for game of the year, really, how cans you beat taking down monstrous dinosaurs with a combat knife? Unfortunately, this first-person shooter revived from the N64 title doesn’t live up to the status of the original hit.
The call to bring the dinosaur hunter Turok back into action daunting task that Propaganda engaged head-on, however a few programming choices cause fun gaming to turn into frustration. Turok is worth a strong rental, however if you’re going to shell out the cash to slit a few danseurs throats remember throwing your controller through your brand new plasma TV is simply not worth it.
Gameplay: 7.5, Graphics:7, Sound:8, Innovation: 7, Mojo:8 Final: 7.5 / 10