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.
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.
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.
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