original Turok: Dinosaur Hunter wasn't exactly revolutionary,
but it was a landmark title in the console FPS genre. In addition to
almost single-handedly reviving a struggling Acclaim, it helped to
establish (along with Goldeneye) the N64 as the FPS console
of choice during the last hardware generation. Over time the series
faltered a bit, staying consistently good but never approaching the
quality and impact of the original. Now Acclaim is attempting to
evolve the series and keep up with the big boys (Halo, Red
Faction II, etc.) with the latest game in the series, Turok:
Evolution. Turok: Evolution marks the first time the
Turok series has appeared on multiple platforms; unfortunately,
beyond that the series has really evolved very little.
a way, that's a good thing as the series has actually returned to
its roots. This game is a prequel to the entire series, as it lays
out Tal'Set's origins as a Dinosaur Hunter. While fighting Captain
Tobias Buckner in 1886, both fall into a rift between the two worlds
and end up in the Lost Lands. Tal'Set journeys to find Buckner and
extract his revenge, but his new enemies (and allies) have other
plans for him. Not terribly deep or revolutionary, but it keeps the
story moving and is pretty standard for the genre.
this attempt to recover the series' past, Turok: Evolution
plays pretty simply compared to the more modern FPS games of today.
Tal'Set's objectives range from destroying every enemy in the area
to finding key items, and usually in order to accomplish this
several platforms and other heights must be scaled…thus like the
original. Jumping is much easier to pull off here than in the
original game though, so the added platform elements not found in
most FPS games is a welcome addition. Mission objectives are very
straightforward and will rarely (if ever) test the player's trigger
finger and not their mind. The main quest is extremely linear -
perform objective A, move on to B, continue until the end of the
level is reached.
new to the series this time around is a flying mode, in which
Tal'Set hops onto the back of a big bird equipped with various
weapons. This mode is fairly simple, with a couple primary weapons
and intuitive flying controls. In comparison to other flying games
it's pretty simplistic, but as a mere part of this game it fits in
pretty well. I'd rather the levels not be there at all though, as
they break up the flow of the game and feel of the world. Plus, it's
obvious the Turok engine wasn't originally designed for
flying, as the mode is much less impressive both graphically and
control-wise. Overall they're OK though, and shouldn't totally turn
off dedicated FPS fans.
addition to the engine shortcomings, Turok: Evolution feels
like an unfinished game in several other areas. The most obvious
example is in the enemy A.I. Sometimes it works as advertised, with
enemies ducking for cover, establishing formations, alerting allies,
attacking from the flank, etc. Other times, the enemies act very
dumbly. For example, in sniper mode they often don't even move after
getting shot. They just stand there waiting to get shot again and
again until they're eventually killed. Killing enemies around other
enemies usually doesn't alert those surrounding ones, so from a
hidden position the player can easily pick off numerous enemies in a
group one by one. When it works it's on the same level as Halo,
but it only works about half the time.
new element in this Turok is destructible environments, and again it
feels somewhat unfinished. Firing on various trees can send them
sprawling towards foes, and large dinosaurs can also knock them
over. Many objects enemies use to hide behind can also be destroyed,
forcing them out into the open. Unfortunately these elements show up
infrequently and aren't easily distinguished, so when they're
encountered the player often doesn't realize they can use them until
it's useless to do so. They also aren't necessary in the least, as
no objectives require destroying certain environment objects to
progress further. For example, something like blowing down a certain
tree to scale and reach another ledge would've been nice.
graphics are good, but it's obvious that Turok: Evolution was
developed primarily with the PS2 version in mind and then ported
over to the Xbox. The Xbox version features some nice lighting
effects, as various weapons will light up hallways and enemies
therein. There's a ton of foliage to be found, all of it swaying
realistically in the wind and reacting to animals that walk through
it. The dinosaur models are nicely detailed, and come the closest
yet a game has to rivaling Jurassic Park (the movie). Blood
spatters quite nicely, although it's a bit disappointing that dead
dinos and blood eventually disappear from the world. With the Xbox
version, some of the texture work looks wonderful and other areas
look terrible and blurry. It feels like Acclaim started upgrading
the textures, and then realized that they wouldn't be able to ship
on time if they continued to upgrade them all. Like the A.I., the
graphics are solid but also feel a bit unfinished.
is probably the only area that feels finished, and it's fantastic.
The Xbox version makes great use of surround sound to really put the
player "inside" the jungle. Each weapon has its own unique
sound, and each enemy sounds as realistic as one would expect. The
music is tense and pulsing, and really immerses the player into the
world of Turok. A rocking soundtrack makes a big difference in any
FPS, and Turok's perfectly fits both the theme and pace of the game.
and true gameplay that will appease fans of the genre.
sound effects and an outstanding music score.
nice graphic tricks make the Xbox version the best looking of
A.I. is spotty at best, and as a result the game is a bit easier
than it should be.
flying levels are solid, but I'd prefer they weren't in the game
at all. If I wanted to play a mediocre flight game, I'd break
out Savage Skies.
is what it is: a solid and above average FPS that will provide hours
of enjoyment for fans of the genre. A few more months in development
finishing up the A.I. and graphics could've turned it into something
special though. Worth picking up if you're waiting for the next
great FPS, or at the very least a rental for genre fans.