2008 Reviews

Turok

  • Review Date: 2012-01
  • Release Date: 2008-02
  • Developer: Propaganda Games
  • Rating: 8.0

After several previous Turok games, mostly on Nintendo and Game Boy, Turok gets a reboot for 2008 by Propaganda Games for Xbox, PS3 and PC. Naturally I'll review the PC version. Propaganda also created Tron: Evolution in 2010 before being shut down, which is unfortunate because Turok is a pretty solid shooter.

Most critics gave it a review it deserved, if not slightly under-rated. Perhaps I'm biased because the last 14 games I've played I've scored 6.5 and under. Not since STALKER have I given anything a 7.0, although Legendary would have been deserving of a 7.5 if they didn't mash the last 1/4. But I have been working my way through the turds of 2008, so it's to be expected that I'll start to play the better releases soon. Plus i've got COD4 and Bioshock to play soon - sure to blow me away.

Turok doesn't follow much of a story. You're a soldier named Turok, previously a member of the Wolf Pack, a specialized military detachment run by a bad SOB named Kane. Kane's gone rogue after committing various war crimes and is now commanding a private army, which shoots you down into a planet run by said Kane. So now you and your military unit have to try to escape the planet, killing Kane in the process and fighting through hordes of dinosaurs. Average story, but if you want a story go play an RPG.

Little did I realise that for half the game, at least, you're battling human enemies in the form of Kane's army. They have various weapons but are the same type of enemy over and over - not particularly smart but have varying degrees of deadliness. I suppose some human enemy had to be in the game to give an excuse for the oodles of ammo around every corner and some projectile combat. Dinosaurs are all close range, which could get repetitive after a while so I suppose it's nice to have some variety.

The dinosaurs are done really well. They look fantastic, they sound creepy. A number of times I could hear their stomps around me but couldn't see them yet, or the earth would shatter from a nearby T-Rex. They also move fast and can deal a good bit of punishment, especially in numbers. Many times I thought I was done for as a dinosaur threw me off my feet and the screen goes red, I struggle to get to my feet and fire off some rounds sprinting in another direction still disorientated. In short, the dinosaur fights are frantic and scary. They feel like an Aliens vs Predator game should feel, and that's exactly how fighting a dinosaur should be. You're about to be ravaged and the only thing keeping you alive is if you can fire off enough rounds before it gets to you.

So while the human enemies are same old, dinosaur combat is pulled off perfectly by Propaganda, though I wish there were more different dinosaur species rather than the handful they designed. But how's the arsenal? Fortunately, great! The shotgun is an epic rapid-fire monster which can be duel-wielded with another lightweight gun, such as the SMG. You have two fire keys and can fire both at the same time, which is something you have to experience to realise how awesome this is. Later in the game when you get the flamethrower, pulse rifle or chaingun these require two hands so you can't duel-wield, unfortunately. But all three are great guns. Finally a flame thrower worth using in a game! I just wish you could carry more than two guns at a time (not including your knife and useless bow and arrow). By the second half of the game I sadly had to ditch my SMG/Shotgun combo because of the effectiveness of the Pulse Rifle, with it's ammo in high supply.

There's also an alt-fire for each gun, but it wouldn't work for me. It's automatically bound to the shift key, which did nothing when I held it, but I did try changing the core config files to bind shift to my fire key so that might have broken it. I've used shift for main fire for 15 years - why should I have to stop now? Being forced to not use the shift key for what I want is a terrible decision done by Aspyr Media, the company that did the PC port. In the process of my poking perhaps I broke the alt-fire as well. Who knows. Instead I had to use CTRL for my normal SHIFT purposes, which took a bit of getting used to. Rule of PC gaming development: allow any key to be bindable, instead of making assumptions that every gamer uses WASD.

For the first half of Turok I only died two or three times - it wasn't particularly difficult. But as the final few levels set in, fights can be much more tricky and the difficulty level ramps up, culminating in a bloody hard final fight with the T-Rex. This is when it finally becomes quite noticeable that the checkpoints are distant. Sometimes ten minutes apart. It's not such a problem early on, but there were a few times when I had to replay a large amount of the game again just because I got caught in the open. The third to last level had no checkpoint for probably 70% of the level.

On to the looks - Turok is a good looking game. Yet another Unreal Engine 3 reliant, which you can tell instantly. The planet with it's mix of sci-fi bases in amongst thick forest looks great. Plenty of detail, everything is nice and big with a few set-pieces thrown in, though I would have liked a bit more. But it seemed very dull and desaturated. There's very little colour in this world. Everything seems murky and drab, with fog drenched over everything. This game needed a bit of colour and clarity to it. And at times some higher quality textures.

It's also linear, as usual, with very little exploration. Still, everything looks professional enough, it just won't be matching Crysis for it's outdoor beauty.

Overall Turok is just a good game. The gameplay was interesting enough, the dinosaurs done very well and weapons were all fun to use. The looks were good enough, certainly better than plenty of other Unreal Engine 3 games. I'd certainly recommend it. It's a shame Propaganda shut down because they had a sequel in development and a Pirates of the Carribbean action/rpg.