Players: 1 to 16 Player Game | Release Date: 02/05/08 | Genre: FPS
2007 was a great year for the shooter. Halo 3, BioShock, The Orange Box, and Call of Duty 4 gave shooter fans everything they could ask for. Well, almost everything... Sure they gave us aliens, mutants, and terrorists aplenty--but the latest entry in the fabled Turok series brings something else to the table: dinosaurs. Not that we haven't seen this before; afterall, it is what makes a Turok game a Turok game. This time around though the developers have utilized the power of current gen hardware to bring these monstrosities to life like never before. The results make Turok a fun and suspenseful addition to the shooter family.
The gameplay in Turok is compromised of shooting enemies with guns, shooting them with a bow and stabbing them to death with a knife. While it may not sounding terribly unique at first, the secondary fire of the weapons and the cinematic knife kills add substantially to the strategy of the game. Yes, you can run around Rambo style shooting the crap out of everything, but there are more resourceful and rewarding methods for taking down adversaries. For instance, use the secondary fire on the shotgun to pin a flare to an enemy and watch as he becomes the newest addition to the jungle's dollar menu. The knife kills are especially effective and will help you conserve ammo if you're in a pinch. In fact, the knife is the preferred way to take down most dinosaurs.
The environment in the game can also help you slaughter the enemy without using much ammo. The iconic exploding barrel can be found scattered throughout the game near enemy bases and in one area there are gas vents in the ground which can be ignited with spectacular results using a flame thrower. Incinerating several foes at the same time has to be one of the most satisfying things I've done in a while, well aside from the knife kills, those just don't get old. Turok is merciless with his knife. The cinematic knife kills go a long way in making you feel like the real king of the jungle. They are brutal and fun to watch. While there is a limited set of animations, it is enough to keep it entertaining throughout the entirety of the game.
Knifing enemies to death probably wouldn't be that fun if it didn't look so darn good. The visuals in Turok are on par with most modern day shooters. The game excels particularly in the dinosaur models and animations. The environments are well done and are brought to life throughout the game as rocks tumble from cliffs, cave roofs fall in and the ground quakes with tremors of volcanic activity and T-Rex footsteps. All of these effects are enhanced by solid audio. The music may not be especially memorable, but the sound effects compliment the visuals nicely; a Tyrannosaur sounds just as intimidating as it looks. The character voices are surprisingly good; a step up from the typical video game fare. Yes, some lines are Gears of War cheesy, but we are talking about a commando group running through a jungle killing dinosaurs here; not exactly Broadway material. The point is that the lines aren't delivered flat and actually, you'll hear some pretty funny banter among the characters during certain scenes.
The commandos of Whiskey Company don't exactly come across as upstanding, well-to-do men. I'm not going to try and sell you on a story here, but most of the funny dialogue comes from other members in the unit making fun of poor Turok because he is apparently seen as a traitor. Turok was once a member of specialized unit called Wolf Pack; whether this unit was an official government organization or a rogue guerrilla gathering, I'm not sure. Whiskey Company was sent to the dino infested planet in order to apprehend Kane, the leader of Wolf Pack, for some reason or another. When their ship is shot down the number one priority switches to surviving long enough to find a way home. Turok seems hell bent on seeing Kane dead though so the mission becomes kill Kane and then find a way home. Oh, priorities...
Thankfully, the developers had their priorities in order when making this game. The big things that were important to making this game a success were nailed; the dinosaurs, the knife kills and the atmosphere created by the game are spot on. In fact, I found myself actually shaking slightly when I began to hear T-Rex footsteps. You never know if the giant is just passing nearby or if it is going to come crashing through the tree line, ready to feast. It's great that the development team was able to get these aspects right, but there are some problems with the game that must be taken into account.
The AI of human enemies is rather sporadic; sometimes the enemies are clever and fierce and other times they're dumber than paint. More than once I came up on an enemy who was, for some reason, shooting up into the sky while I was sitting there right in front of him; needless to say this made for some easy kills. These instances were rare, but did occur nonetheless. Another fault is that the objectives are sometimes vague and the indicator marker disappears rather quickly which can have you running in circles at times. Also, there are times when following the game's instructions will get you killed because it tells you some vital piece of information too late. To pass certain parts, you'll likely have to die at least once and realize that you should have been running to a specific location well before the game informs you of this. The last problem that needs to be brought up is that the trigger action for knife kills occasionally seems to simply not respond. The icon will be shown on the screen and you can be pulling the trigger repeatedly, but to no avail. In these situations it's best to back up and try again.
Truth be told, I have never been a big fan of the Turok games; however, I can honestly say that this one took me by surprise and is truly a great game worthy of a spot on any PS3 or Xbox 360 owner's shelf. The game is fun to play, creates a great atmosphere and has online multiplayer and cooperative play. The interesting thing about the cooperative mode in Turok is that there are distinct missions available only for co-op play. The online multiplayer features several gametypes including deathmatch and CTF, but puts a unique spin on things with wild dinosaurs running around the maps. Even with the faults of the game, it still comes highly recommended because it offers such a unique genre experience and has all the multiplayer offerings of the typical current gen shooter.