Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

a game by Acclaim, and Iguana

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Action

See also:Turok Games

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Turok's biggest problem and overriding failure is perfectly described by Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park. "We are going to see some dinosaurs on this dinosaur tour, right?" For a game so obviously preying on the fact that you are going to see some pretty impressive monsters, Turok Dinosaur Hunter has so few actual in-yer-face dinosaurs that you will be perfectly within your rights to ask for your money back under trading standards.

But of course you won't discover this fact until you've played it from beginning to end using our in-depth solution on the following pages, but be prepared to be underwhelmed. The biggest thing you'll see up until the final level is a raptor - big deal! Bypass protesters are more frightening...

Grrrrr!

But that's not to say that Turok, initially at least, is not an incredible interactive experience. Few games in recent memory have such a convincing and lifelike game environment, and many of the levels are well designed and challenging.

Once past the obvious jungle-fied menu system, and comical, but ultimately bland rendered sequence, you're into a world of majestic splendour which is alive with sights and sounds.

Leaving the dying embers of your tamp fire you venture into the first canyon, gripping your trusty Bowie knife and gut-string bow. To your as the mist ahead clears, a monkey cocks its head in your direction and "coos;" sensing movement in its peripheral vision. It then bolts for the nearest mile-high tree, before disappearing into the distance with shrieks of alarm.

Something roars ahead, but is it miles away, or hiding in the dense foliage ahead? You switch to your bow and hold down the trigger to tense up an arrow in preparation. Creeping forward you make out a shape coming towards you. A man.

Instinctively you let loose an arrow but it misses and still he comes, breaking into a run now and yelling with it. Fumbling with your weapon you whirl around and look for cover - that bush - you can make it. Shots ring out and bullets whizz past your head. Dropping to the floor you spin and loose your next bolt which catches the native through the side of the neck. A look of surprise breaks across his hardened features as he realises that a three foot long spurt of his own blood is pumping out of the hole in his jugular. Fully motion captured, he slams both hands over the wound to stem the flow but it's too late, and after much convulsing he drops to the mossy floor and dies in a lake of blood - disappearing completely moments later.

Bronto Bungle

This is just one of the life and death encounters you will face in the initial stages of Turok, and it's made all the more frantic by the fact that you have such primitive weapons. To survive the legions of tribesmen and more than a few blood-thirsty raptors, you quickly need bigger and bigger guns.

Luckily Turok delivers, but thankfully your progression to the next weapon is carefully planned, with some not appearing until right at the end of the game, and this means you are always aware that you're mortal, and one stray bullet or rockfall could end your adventure.

After your initial two you quickly find a pistol (nice recoil, but Arnie wouldn't be seen dead with it), and then the more impressive super shotgun, which has a rotating cartridge chamber for rapid fire. Curiously though you find this before the normal shotgun, which kind of makes it redundant.

Other choice 'finds' include the brutal chain gun, which unlike the effort in Doom, actually has a rotating barrel which slowly loses momentum after firing and boasts a great 'ziiing' sound effect. Think of that tobacco chewing guy in the film, Predator, and you'll know exactly what to expect.

The rail gun from Eraser is also a brutal armament, along with the grenade launcher, nuclear hand weapon, laser gun and of course the Chronosepter, which can only be used once you have found all its pieces scattered through Turok's eight levels. This is a clever sub-plot, and also a satisfying one, because letting loose with the Chronosepter is like watching the end of the world!

Generally all the weapons in this game are conversation pieces in themselves, and put those in all other 3-D shoot-'em-ups to shame. Pyrotechnic delights await those with itchy trigger fingers and the Nintendo is stretched to its limits in creating showers of colour and ear-splitting explosions. Yes you will be amazed.

Ammo-Nitrate

Ammunition, or rather the lack of it, is a key factor in Turok and one that adds much of the tension. As in Doom, Quake 64 and Duke Nukem 3-D shoot-'em-ups thrive on recreating the feeling of you being low on ammo but still caught between a piece of granite and a hard place.

A great portion of your time playing Turok will be spent swearing profusely, looking for more bullets and blindly running into a group of the enemy shouting "C'mon - you want some of this motherf*cker!" Before inevitably becoming the lunch of something with more teeth than the BeeGees.

Alternatively you can spend your time sneaking around using only silent weapons, but this inevitably leads to some trouser-filling moments in dark tunnels and is recommended for people with iron bowels or large dry-cleaning budgets.

Take Control

The control system is unique to Turok, but there's no doubt that it will be copiously copied. You basically use the four yellow arrow buttons on the pad to move forward and back, and left/right strafe, and the analogue stick acts as your line of sight. This means you can be running forward, but shooting to the side, and you can use it look for hidden ledges and objects in all directions. A similar system is used in Mario 64 when you are in the closest zoom mode.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but it totally revolutionises this style of game in the same way that the mouse is the best way to play Quake on the PC. Once again this control method proves that the Nintendo 64 control pad is the cleverest invention Nintendo has ever created. So much so that Sony has copied it with their double analogue pad.

Eye Candy

Graphically, Turok is fabulous, and you'd be hard pressed to find anything that doesn't gob-smack your average PlayStation or Saturn owner. But if it didn't then I'd be worried - this is a 64-bit console after all, and so you've got to expect that it will look, sound and perform better than anything else.

The thousands of colours on-screen at once help to make this the best looking N64 game yet. A subtle masterpiece compared to the brash primary colours of Mario and Wave Race. Even Shadows of the Empire looks dull after Turok.

There are also plenty of clever touches which distinguish the game as the most accomplished Doom variant yet. Look up and the sun causes you to squint and produce lens flare. Waterfalls plunge to the plateau floor and produce vast clouds of water vapour. Gaze into a water pool and you can actually see water bubbles rising to the surface. Stuff like this has never been seen before and it is instantly captivating. Over eight levels though, the originality starts to wane.

The Bad News

The lack of real dinosaurs is definitely a problem because once you're used to coming up against raptors and men, there really isn't anything left. On many an occasion, the sound effects will lead you to believe that something truly huge is waiting in the antechamber ahead, but then you'll find it empty, or even worse, full of those annoying little beetle things.

Turok desperately needed to have more moments like the one in Tomb Raider, where you suddenly come across a huge T-Rex which thunders across the plain to eat you. Surely you should be hiding from such brutes, with the artificial intelligence high enough so that the hunter becomes the hunted!

Imagine it - legging it up through caves to avoid a T-Rex, and then having it staring in at you while you are trapped. Such imagination is lacking in Turok and it's a real shame because the hardware is no longer an excuse.

No Imagination

You also only ever come up against a maximum of three or four enemies. What's the point of having weaponry that could slay a continent in one blast, if you could kill them all with something as lowly as a bow and arrow? And what have these things done to you anyway?

The name "Dinosaur Hunter" is misleading because you're not hunting dinosaurs at all, they just get in the way. It would have been a far better game if humans played a very small part in it, let alone the cyborgs that appear at the end. Hands up who's tired of shooting at robots?

The game should have been a sort of Jurassic Park meets the White Buffalo, with you sworn to vanquish a huge Tyrannosaur who had slain your family. That way you could spend the game tracking down the mamma ΠΆ-Rex until the last level where you'd corner it. Honestly, where is the imagination these days?

Another major flaw in Iguana's game is the repetitive nature of the levels themselves. Oh sure you are in awe of it all for the first couple, but then you realise that to increase the challenge and the time it takes to complete them, the developers have thrown in far too many instances where you have to jump across many raised platforms.

For Mario this is fine, but a first person perspective game such as Turok is not designed for such precise antics and so it quickly because incredible annoying as you plunge to your death for the hundredth time. In real life you can see your feet and arms and this sort of thing is not a problem, but imagine doing it with no arms and then see how many acrobatics you attempt.

In the end you use the map to judge whether you've made it or not, but this is still a stupid and lazy way of filling a game, especially when later on the developers really take the p*ss by making you leap over to moving columns which are surrounded by lava. As if it wasn't difficult enough!

Hunted Down

So far Turok has attained scores of 95% and even 97%, but this is a lie - it is nothing like as inventive as Mario 64 and those who claim it is simply haven't played it through.

Although Turok is visually impressive and certainly a good argument to put to your better half for buying an N64, the gameplay soon because repetitive and any clever ideas brought on in the early stages make way for mindless shooting and maze exploration near the end. The last level is utterly boring when it should have been the most thrilling of all. This stinks of a lack of imagination and a desire to get the game finished on time. A decent game, but one that misses the target too often.

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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Downloads

Nintendo 64 Turok: Dinosaur Hunter download

A good blast with excellently destructive guns let down by massive fogging and too much reliance on jumping onto tiny platforms.

reggie posted a review

Screen-filling dinosaurs, ludicrously bloody violence and some breathtaking weapons. A phenomenally good game.

reggie posted a review

Given the dismal record of third party games on the Nintendo 64 thus far, it's little wonder that such high hopes are being cherished for Turok from Acclaim. Thus far we've been 'treated' to an appaling rendition of Cruis'n USA, the decidedly unspectacular Mortal Kombat Trilogy (in the USA) and (with the exception of level one) a disappointing Shadows of the Empire. Okay, so there's a decent ice I hockey game, and a new improved Doom. But this is less than we expect from the so-called Dream Team.

It's somewhat astonishing then that a company with Acclaim's troubled recent history holds the torch for the rest of gaming. Let's face it, this is a company with a reputation firmly entrenched in the bad old days of sloppy 16-bit platformers and cookie-cutter pro-wrestling / dunking games.

The good news is that, judging from a 90% completed version, Turok is an astounding game. Iguana has lavished attention on the title and all the delights of anti-aliasing, gouraud shading and mip-mapping have been thrown in to offer an environment as visually stunning as it is mysterious.

Okay, when all is said and done it's just another first person shoot-'em-up. But the major difference here is that it's the best looking first person game yet devised (and this is in a field of hundreds). Turok also offers unprecedented options in terms of weaponry (14 pieces of hardware and a choice of ammo) and the best looking bad guys yet. Plus, you get to indulge in Lara Croft-style activities such as jumping and swimming.

Does it all work? Up to a point. Those enemies are gorgeous and the death scenes are well-crafted. But, unlike say Doom, you're rarely fighting more than one at a time on-screen. This is limiting and inevitably cramps enjoyment. The jumping and swimming stuff, while adding some degree of depth, is not executed brilliantly and can seem disjointed. But well have to see what has changed with the full review copy; sadly withheld from this magazine.

These are criticisms which may well be levelled against the game when it falls into the hands of reviewers. But, while valid, they may miss out on the essence of Turok. It's a violent bloody game, but it moves at a lighter pace than other shoot-'em-ups, and there's a greater element of exploration required. This is no bad thing.

The story itself follows the adventures of an American Indian wandering a lost world populated by dinosaurs and their guardians. Acclaim lifted the entire plot from a series of semi-popular comics books; one of Its subsidiaries publishes from New York. Apart from the world you explore, there is a great deal of fun to be had with moveable elements. Firstly, the enemies. These range from brutish humans to evil skeletons, and from dim-witted but strong dinosaurs, to those which are armed to their incisors. As is often the case, different weapons suit different enemies though it's more often than not strategy which counts the most. Many of the stomping enemies are not so tough from a distance whatever you're shooting. The misty world adds an element of surprise (and naked fear) to all this. Something horrible is always just a few seconds away.

Those enemies in Turok are all polygons, and each one has a number of death-moves which will delight as well as relieve all players. Weapons? Ah yes. You begin with all the usual guff (knife, bow, pistol, shotgun etc..) but then move on to some truly brilliant devices including a Nuke Launcher, Particle Cannon and Eraser Gun.

There are eight levels in Turok with a number of settings, though jungles and over-grown corridors are much In evidence. Although the game is linear, the size and complexity of each new world make it convincingly three-dimensional. One useful touch is the ability to bring the map on-screen -super-imposed upon the live action -which is pretty much mandatory in some of the later levels. With just a few weeks left In development. Acclaim looks to have a winner on its hands.

Prospects: Severe cash injection for troubled Acclaim - marks Doom look like a school day out.

reggie posted a review

Forget everything you've learned in the real world. You are a warrior named Turok, in the Saquin language meaning "Son of Stone," defender of the land, protector of the earth. Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors, make your way through the Lost Land fighting ferocious natives, dinosaurs, aliens, demons, and cyborgs, to find all of the pieces of the Chronoscepter and defeat the Campaigner.

Or, just have a screamingly wild time running through the jungle, hacking, slashing and/or blowing away everything that gets in your way!

Although the story of Turok as told in the comic books from Gold Key, Valiant, and Acclaim is an interesting one, it's not as important to gameplay as you might expect, which is perfectly fine. From the moment you turn on the game the objective is clear: EXPLORE. Run across it, climb on/up it, jump up/to it, swim in/around it, or slash/shoot it, all in a jungle environment that's so realistic, you'll be tempted to say "Computer, freeze program" ala the Holodeck on the Enterprise.

Gameplay

The idea behind this one-player, first-person adventure game is to survive the elements long enough to find all of the keys scattered in each level to gain access to each other level (and beat the hell out of all the bad guys too). You can return through the gate of a level you've already explored, to find things you've missed or couldn't reach until you had the right weapon. Watch out for dangers all around you -- the natives are restless, the dinosaurs are hungry, and the bosses, well, they'll make you wish you were playing Ecco the Dolphininstead.

The overwhelming best features of this game pack are the controls, the environment, the map, and the weapons. Let me elaborate:

The Controls: If you own a Nintendo 64, you've probably played Super Mario 64, and you've mastered how to make our plumber run, jump, turn, flip, and do all kinds of tricks using the cool new controller. Well, forget all those Mario moves; there's now a better way to move through life -- the Turok way.

The first 20 minutes I spent playing Turok, I got so dizzy trying to move around, it was like a chimp trying to fly a biplane. The four yellow C buttons control your movement, while the control stick controls your line of sight. I naturally wanted to use the control stick to move, so in effect I kept accidentally moving Turok's head around instead of his body. I wanted to punish the idiot that came up with such a screwed-up button system, but once I got the hang of it I realized the awesomeness of this control set -- to be able to simulate fluid head movements independently from directional movement. Look down at your feet as you cross a narrow bridge. Lean back to aim your Quad Rocket Launcher just a little bit higher and just a hair to the right. Aim perfectly and plunk an exploding arrow into the gut of a trooper on a high cliff 50 feet away. It's virtual reality without the cumbersome suit and headset.

The Environment: To describe what you'll see when you go exploring in the 8 stages of Turok would fill several dozen pages and still not do this game pack justice. This isn't just a game with jungle paths and rooms with doors -- you have to figure out ancient puzzles and find switches to reveal hidden paths and prizes. Dive down deep into a well, swim down a river, climb a 10-story high cliff, jump from pillar to pillar, or crawl through a narrow winding tunnel. And the enemies? Well they aren't just dumb objects simply waiting around the corner for you to come and find them. No, in this game the hunter becomes the HUNTED -- the demons and giant beetles and raptors come looking for you. There's more about it in the Graphics section.

The Map: Press the left shoulder (L) button to reveal this gem. The map is a see-through outline of your immediate surroundings, which will come in so handy that, like me, you may leave it on all the time. It spins as you spin, moves as you move, and reveals your path a few feet in front of you and everywhere you've been, showing walls as solid lines and cliffs (or any structure on a different plane as the one you're standing on) as shaded lines. The map is essential for those tricky jumps when the slightest misstep can cause you to plummet to your doom.

The Weapons: When you press the A or B buttons, a roulette wheel appears and spins to your left, letting you choose from your available weapons. You're limited to a knife and bow at first, but in no time you'll have enough big guns to make a card-carrying NRA member jealous. Watch your ammo levels though; try to find the backpack so you can carry twice as many clips, arrows and shells.

Graphics

Ahh, the heart and soul of a good game, the qualities that will determine if you buy a game from the locked sales counter or from the pile in the clearance bin. You won't be disappointed with Turok. Objects sometimes tend to look a little flat and grainy up close, but you won't have time to notice it. The hazy jungle sky blends evenly with the trees and cliffs, creating a life-like, fascinating environment. You can even follow the glare in your eyes as you look up at the sun. And as any jungle should be, it's teeming with unseen life emitting roars, chirps and other various wildlife sounds from all around. Your enemies have an added touch of realism as well in both sights and sounds. Pump 6 rounds into a charging raptor (before he rips at your gut), and watch him squirm and hear his gargled screeches, all to satisfy your taste for victory. From echoes in darkened corridors to squeals of jeep tires in the arena, your senses will keep you believing you're in another world.

Bottom Line

If you like the feel of first person games (ala DOOM), and you like adventure too (like Tomb Raider), it doesn't get any better than Turok. The smooth controls and fluid all-around head movement make it a real innovation in home video game technology. I wish they would use this game engine and remake some of my other favorite games, like Shadows of the Empire, for instance. Anyway, there's an amazing variety of terrains in eight levels to explore, and a few secret rooms too, so it'll be a long time before you get bored with this one. It's designed for mature audiences, but if you like you can change the blood to green or simply turn it off to soften the carnage. I recommend the following:

  • Unless you like getting to level five and starting all over again when you lose your last life. To save your progress, keep an eye out for the "never around when you need one" monoliths scattered throughout the levels.
  • Use the biggest screen possible. My brother's projection TV was like a dream.
  • Sit in a dimly lit room. You want the full effect but without damaging your eyesight.
  • Get surround sound. 'Nuff said.
  • Check your heart medication. Don't say I didn't warn you.
reggie posted a review
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