Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Review)

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I seem to be on some sort of fps kick lately with a review of the entire Halo franchise (sort of) and now a review of Turok on the Nintendo 64. Well, what can I say, fps games can be seriously fun at times. Anyway, for those that don’t know, Turok was one of the first shooters for the 64 and predated Goldeneye by a few months. It was made by the now defunct Iguana Entertainment and is based off of the Turok: Dinosaur Hunter comic book series. It is also worth noting that this was the first third-party game released for the 64. Now with that in mind, lets dive into the review.

For starters, this is a game I just recently acquired so I haven’t played through all of it yet. But I feel I have experienced enough to write a full review for you. Anyway, the gameplay is fairly simple, you control The Turok, some mystical being whose goal is to extinquish evil. And the evil in this case is known as the Campaigner. He is trying to assemble the Chronoscepter and use it to rule the world. So Turok vows to find the scepter first and destroy his foe with it. To be honest, most of this isn’t really important. What you need to know is that you play as a Native American type guy and shoot dinosaurs, aliens and humans in the face with a variety of weaponry. If you play enough, you can assemble the Chronoscepter and use it to kill everything really quickly. But the game isn’t just about slaughter, you need to collect level keys to access new levels. And finally, there is the occasional boss fight.

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Now, for the gameplay, well, its not the best at times. Now, this is before Goldeneye created the standard for N64 shooters so I give it a pass. But it has to be noted that the controls take some getting used to. Movement is done with the C buttons and aiming is done with the control stick, its very awkward.  Not to mention, the stick has an inverted axis, so moving the stick up, looks down and vice versa. However, once you get the hang of the controls, it becomes rather easy to manage, until you have to do some platforming, those parts can be brutal. Thankfully, the game has some good save point locations, many of which are before sections that require a lot of platforming. If you can survive the platforming, then you are treated to a wealth of bullet and blood soaked goodness. The action is fast and the enemies are varied. As said earlier, you fight a variety of foes. Some use guns to take you out from a distance and others love  to close the gap and try to club you with a stick. But I find that they are all easily dispatched with a couple of bullets. Its also worth noting that there are very few dinosaurs in the earlier levels. But they dinos get bigger and badder in later stages. On top of that, we have bosses and sub bosses. I won’t spoil it for you but they can be a royal pain to defeat  as they tend to just eat bullets like its nothing. But if you did your job right, and played through the levels in order, you will have the equipment to defeat them.

Another  thing that I have to mention is the fact that the field of vision is really bad. You can only see what is in close proximity to you. Sure it adds to the tension and makes you nervous because you never know whats ahead, but I find that navigation can be tough because of it. Thankfully, there is a map system. Now, if there is one complaint I have about the map, its the fact that it takes up the whole screen, a mini map would have been extremely useful. Its a minor complaint but it kind of bothers me when I get mobbed by enemies and have to close the thing so I can see.

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Now, It may seem that I have a lot of complaints about this game but for the most part, they are minor especially because the game has some fantastic level design. All the areas are  different and provide unique challenges, one example is a forest where the combat is tight and enemies tend to give you less room to breathe. Another is a big ancient city where everything is open and the action has a sense of verticality about it, your foes could be anywhere from a street to the top of a building, its extremely fun. Also, every level has a portal that you can jump into that brings you to a challenge level. Here, you go through a sort of obstacle course  and if you survive, you get a plethora of ammunition or spiritual  points, which can in turn be used to gain extra lives.

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Finally, I need to talk about the graphics. For an earlier title in the 64 library, this game looks really good. The character models look alright but the real star is the levels themselves. There is plenty of lush forestry, and the buildings have some fantastic detail. On top of that, some of the later levels have a neat sci fi quality about them, and its rather neat to see. I should also not that each of the enemies have several death animations based on what  weapon you use or where you hit them, some of them are rather gruesome for its day.

All in all, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a pretty good fps game. It has everything you want in a shooter from solid mechanics, good weaponry, varied enemies and levels and a solid challenge. There are some things that bothered me, especially with controls early on, but seeing as how it predates Goldeneye, I can give it a pass. Fun game

8.5/10

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Personal Top 10 List

With the coming of the new year, I like to look back at games that have really changed my world. The games that I will always remember and the games that manage to stand the test of time, well I can’t say for sure which will and which won’t but I can say that I have a personal top 10 of all time…..for now anyway, I am sure I will change it up within the next week or so.

10. Banjo Kazooie

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Everytime I have recommended this game, my friends will just write it off as childish or stupid. But they are missing the point, the game is Super Mario 64 with more personality, a wider variety of gameplay and some of the most endearing and fun characters in gaming. The graphics are fantastic for its time, the levels are varied, and it controls flawlessly. The game, isn’t just for kids however, as some of the challenges can be rather tricky. Not to mention that there are tons of secrets to unlock, easter eggs to find and a satisfying final boss battle. While I think that Mario 64 got boring, Banjo just didn’t stop with the fun. Sure Mario 64 did it all first but Banjo perfected it. And thus it gets the number 10 spot on my list.

9. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistance

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The first Metal Gear Solid rocked, the second was good, and the third was fantastic, but its the Subsistance release that brings it to a new level. It changes the perspective to a third person view and makes it play so much better overall. There was a fantastic camouflage system, some unique ways of dispatching foes, the ability to eat animals. Combine all that with some of the smartest AI ever, and then include a fantastic story set during the Cold War. It feels like you are playing an interactive spy movie, and it is so satisfying. Id recommend this game even if you haven’t played the others.

8.  Super Mario Bros. 3

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I grew up in the N64 and PS1 era so its strange going back and playing older stuff sometimes. However, there is one game that always stands the test of time for me, and that is Super Mario Bros. 3. It takes everything that the first Super Mario Bros. did and cranks it up to 11 with new powers, varied levels, and secrets secrets secrets. There is so much to do and see and there is plenty of challenge to be had, it still stands as my personal favorite NES game.

7. Uncharted 2

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I am a huge Indiana Jones fan and this is as close to Indiana Jones as a video game gets. While I enjoyed the first and third games in the series, its the second that sticks with me the most. It constantly throws our hero Nathan Drake into some of the most ludicrious situations and its up to the player to get him out of it. The story is tight, the controls are fluent, and the graphics are mind blowing. I am positive that I have completed the main story at least 6 or 7 times, yeah, the game is THAT good. Then add in the multiplayer and you have a complete package, there is a reason its one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time.

6. Final Fantasy 6

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This was hard because I enjoy 7 as well, but when it comes down to it, FF6 stayed with me more. The story is intense, the entire way through, with a villain who is a complete psychopath. And that is actually the best part of the game, Kefka is so crazy and so well done that he steals the show. Also, have you ever played a game where the heroes actually fail completely in their quest? Yes, Kefka actually manages to cause armageddon about halfway through the game!! You rarely see this happen in games and its an interesting plot twist that just makes you hate Kefka even more. Then add in the fact that the gameplay is solid, there are tons of possibilities as well as a pile of sidequests and you have a game that will be remembered forever.

5. Goldeneye/Perfect Dark

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Yeah, I am cheating a bit here but both games are so good that they have to be here. And they are made by the same company, use the same engine and were made by basically the same team, so there. Anyway, these games are a bit dated as far as control schemes go but that doesn’t change the fact that they are phenomenal. Once you get back into the controls you will find a plethora of gaming gold. Both games have tons of single player missions to tackle, plenty of multiplayer to keep you busy (PD has more options than goldeneye, but it came later), as well as cheats to unlock. I still play these games regularly to this day, I love them

4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

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The Zelda games had always had a lighthearted nature about them. That is until Majora’s Mask came along. I’ll be honest, this game gave me the creeps when I played it as a kid and it still has some parts that make my skin crawl a bit, curse you Happy Mask Salesman, that face will forever haunt my dreams. But all of that aside, Majora’s Mask created a dark and fascinating world to explore. The main story is compelling enough but it is the side quests that make this game shine. All the stories behind them are fantastically done. The one that sticks with me is a tale of two lovers.  The man is cursed to live as a child and is trying to reverse it all. To do this, he leaves his fiance’ and sets out on a journey and its Links duty to bring them together, its heartwarming and sad at the same time and is something I will always remember. I also enjoy the fact that you can play as multiple different races throughout the game. All you have to do is slap on a mask and transform, it creates some amazing gameplay mechanics. Another thing Majora’s Mask did is it used time as an actual enemy, no longer do you have an eternity to perform your task, oh no, you have 3 days of game time to solve the puzzles and save the world. However, you can use the Ocarina of Time to reset the clock, slow it down, or speed it up. Its a really fun gameplay aspect and it gives a sense of urgency to everything you do. Love this game!

3. Baldur’s Gate 2

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If there is an rpg that I have sunk more hours into, its gotta be this one. There are hundreds of quests, fantastic party customization, endless possibilities, and a phenomenal story. Jon Irenicus, the villain, is the most compelling evil doer I have ever seen in a video game, he is seriously messed up, and very powerful. Though, with all the content the game offers, its amazing that it never ever gets old, I have easily sunk 200 hours into this, and I am still discovering things. I love it

2. Starcraft/Starcraft 2

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I am convinced that between these two games, I have put in over one thousand hours, no joke. The campaigns throw you into a variety of situations, from holdouts to finding a specific item, and they all are fun. The stories are cheesy but they serve their purpose. But what really makes these two games amazing is the multiplayer. I’ll be honest, I am not the best at them, but its still a ton of fun to tinker with build orders, rushes, and new tactics that I cannot put the games down. In fact, just recently, some friends and I had a lan party dedicated to Starcraft: Brood War, it was phenomenal. And if you don’t want to play against human players, the computers will give you a good challenge as well. Finally, add in a ravenous fan base and some fun map making tools and you have my number 2 game of all time.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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What can be said about this game that hasn’t already been said? Its perfectly paced, has a wide variety of gameplay and levels, sounds good, looks good for its day and is THE game that got me into gaming. As of this writing, I have played through it at least 20 times. Phenomenal game, and my personal number 1 game of all time.