Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion
The original dino crisis is back for one last turn on the Nintendo 64. A cosmic entity named Oblivion is on a world-devouring spree, and it seeks the final bits of pure energy that created our world. That energy is located in Turok's Light Burden. Titled Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion, the series makes its final stand on the N64. Designed by Acclaim's Austin team without the benefit of 4-Meg Expansion paks in their dev-stations, Turok 3 promises to avoid the framerate problems that plagued Turok 2 and even Perfect Dark.
But why stick with the N64 anyway? Why not move on to the more powerful hardware like the Dreamcast or PlayStation2? "We have always stood by Nintendo and the N64 with the Turok franchise," says lead designer Dave Dienstbier. "It would have been easy to abandon the platform in order to develop for something more 'sexy' and new, but that would really have been the wrong motivation. This chapter in the Turok Saga ends where it began, the Nintendo 64."
The game features five different worlds across which to sling arrows, only this time, you get to choose from two characters to do it: Danielle and Joseph. Danielle, the older sister, carries big guns and is the more athletic of the two. Joseph is smaller, can fit into places Danielle cannot, and relies more on stealth, resulting in two almost completely different games. Acclaim calls the levels "living environments" due to the constant events taking place regardless of your character's actions. Sounds a little too much like marketing buzzspeak to us. What we do like to hear about are the whopping 48 multiplayer maps promised, new save-anywhere function (addressing the biggest problem many had with Turok 2), over 40 new enemies, and of course plenty of new weapons.
Sounds good yes, but we still have a bad taste in our mouths from the last Turok game, Rage Wars. To make up for that game and warrant purchase next to games like Perfect Dark, Turok 3 better not just be good, it better be great.
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I'll admit it, I'm not a huge Turok fan. Sure, I enjoyed the first game, but Turok 2 (with its huge levels and inane save feature) was an exercise in frustration, and don't even get me started on the crap that was Rage Wars. So, naturally, I started Turok 3 with a little apprehension. But after only a few minutes of play, that feeling completely disappeared. Almost everything that irritated me about Turok 2 has been fixed: While the overall levels are still huge, they've been divided up into dozens of smaller areas. Even better, the new save feature allows you to mark your place at any time in the game. I love the fact you can now play as two different characters with their own distinct skills and optional paths, and it's cool to see the amount of emphasis put into the story line. The part that impressed me most about Turok 3, though, was the graphic quality. This is the first N64 game I've seen truly use the Expansion Pak to its potential--the difference between low and high resolution modes is stunning. My only real problems with T3 are its length (it's only about six hours long for each character), and the fact that it's still hard to aim your weapons in high-stress areas. But despite those gripes, and even though it doesn't have quite the same depth and all the extra goodies of Perfect Dark, Turok 3 still delivers an excellent first-person shooting experience, and should be an instant purchase by any fan of the genre.
This is a nice surprise. After Rage Wars, I wasn't expecting big things out of Turok 3, but big things are exactly what T3 delivers--the two characters to play as, the best hi-res graphics on the N64, a smooth framerate, cool weapons, a slick story line, and an almost Half-Life-line pace. The levels are short, and to the point (avoiding a major pitfall of T2) while a generous save system has been added as well. The multiplayer moves at a smoother framerate than Perfect Dark, and revamped versions of the Lost World levels from the first game are even included, a sure sign that the former Iguana loves its fans. Not as deep as PD, but almost as much fun.
The delivers most everything that got people into the Turok games in the past, but also offers some much-needed improvements. Now you can save at any time, and there are points in levels that you can restart if you die. Graphically, the game is a marvel with the RAM PAE. I couldn't play Perfect Dark in high-res because of the huge hit to the framerate, but T3 isusually fine. If there's one complaint I have, it's the cheap hits. All too often enemies will hit you before you can even see them. It doesn't make the game too difficult (you're given plenty of health), it does get annoying. Still, a fine conclusion to the Turok series on the N64.