Dinosaurs never get old. Or so it seems as Acclaim's set to bring their successful Turok franchise to all three next-gen consoles. Some much-touted features include flight missions where you control a pteranodon to take down enemies from the skies, and the S.D.S (Squad Dynamics System), which lets you hunt down raptors in the jungle with a squad of soldiers. No doubt about it, Evolution's got all the goods: gorgeous visuals, excellent sound capabilities, multiplay, intelligent monsters, and both team- and flight-based combat. The set-up for success is there. Check for our reviews next month.
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Back in its heyday, the Turok series was a true pioneer it brought first-person shooters (FPS) to the Nintendo 64, spearheading a renaissance for the genre on console systems. We werent just hunting for keys in drab corridors anymore; suddenly we were hunting for keys in steamy, raptor-infested jungles. This dinosaur-blasting Zeitgeist peaked with Turok 2, and the next two games met with diminishing excitement as the N64 faded into memory. Now, five years after he first hit the scene, Turoks back with a title that promises to evolve the series into something new and exciting. Sadly, the results are disappointing.
Evolution explores the roots of the series by casting you as the Native American warrior TalSet (also known around EGM as Decorative Towel Set), who later becomes the legendary Turok. The hijinks begin when he and his nemesis, an Indian-hating hick named Tobias Bruckner, both get sucked into a warp zone to the Lost Land. Upon his arrival, TalSet joins forces with the human resistance to fight the Sleg, a lizard-like race of warmongers. So far, so good. But suddenly, with no further story setup, youre searching for captured wise men, rescuing senators and fulfilling vague prophecies. Plot events often unfold in clumsy cinemas thatll leave you wondering What the hells going on? and Who thought a cybernetic redneck was a cool idea?
Of course, gripping storylines are usually a bonus in any FPS, and certainly not a prerequisite for fun. Gameplay always takes center stage, and Turok's controls perform admirably, making strafing runs and long-distance head-shots a breeze. Movement gets a little clunky when climbing ladders and making long jumps, but in general, Turok does exactly as you command.
Thanks to the responsive controls, youll also be able to appreciate all of Turok's many cool weapons. The game boasts quite an arsenal, and many have multiple firing modes thanks to collectible attachments. Some weapons, like the Dark Matter Cube or the Gravity Disruptor, create really dazzling effects. As with previous Turok games, its obvious a lot of thought and effort went into the games weaponry.
Sadly, not as much love went into the games presentation. In screenshots, Turok looks good with lush forests and massive dinosaurs. But what the screens dont show is the crippling slowdown that plagues many levels, or the way bushes, trees and grass fade into view only a few feet in front of your eyes. Also, the later levels set within cities and bases look dull and uninspired. The worst visual snafu has to be the awful character models, some that look like they wandered in from the old N64 Turok cartridges. Sonically, Evolution is once more a mixed bag. The music is a dynamic blend of over-the-top orchestral crescendos and atmospheric tribal noise, but the elephantine brass blasts outnumber the ambient grooves, so it becomes grating. The audio effects arent much better the guns sound wimpy, and as TalSet waded through water, confused staffers mistook the noise as both a washing machine and a vomiting cat.
We could forgive all these surface problems if the game were a blast to play, but whats truly holding Evolution back are its poor level designs. Too many stages are overly long, uninspired and annoying. Youll likely have to play through several missions multiple times to complete them due to tricky jumping puzzles or unclear objectives. While the game is quite long by FPS standards, most players will likely give in long before the 15th chapter out of sheer frustration.
Evolutions last chance at redemption was its multiplayer mode, but alas, it does not rock our world. The PS2 version only supports two players, so leave that Multi-tap in the closet. Whats worse is that the game pauses to load during combat. Its almost like online lag...in an offline, split-screen game. Yikes.
It may seem like were being hard on ol Turok, but in the end the game is disappointing, a real letdown for a once-proud series.
Turok is a Texan. Well, technically he isn't, since "the tribes of the Southwest were here before Texas existed," Dave Dienstbier, creative director at Acclaim Studios Austin, tells us. But let's cut the crap. No matter how you spin it, our fabled hero is from the state that houses Houston, winner of the prestigious Fattest City in America award for the last two years. With that in mind, maybe we shouldn't have been that surprised when Dienstbier revealed Turok's darkest secret: "He really likes a good bowl of chili."
The fun starts in 1886 when Tal'Set (that's Turok's old-school tribal name, or something) fights his nemesis, who sports an equally cool name: Captain Tobias Bruckner. A few words of advice: Never screw with a cap'n. Tal'Set probably wished he knew that when Tobias tossed him into a mysterious rift that teleported him to a dino-infested Lost Land. It sucks when that happens. But not for us gamers.
This rift conveniently gives Acclaim the ability to transport Turok back to the hostile jungle environments that made the original game so popular. Or "back to its roots," as Dienstbier puts it. This isn't your grandfather's digitally desolate jungle, however. It's a living, breathing, smorgasbord of shrubbery and trees that sway, swing and best of alt, get blown away. Remember the rustling of the brush that preceded a raptor jumping out to snatch up a two-legged snack in Jurassic Park You'll experience it here, and more. In the jungle level that I tried, Tur...er...Tal'Set was surrounded by the beasties. Instead of plugging them one by one, I was told by the Acclaim guardian angel to plug away at the trees instead. "Hell no, the trees ain't got teeth!" I replied. The steady voice of the Acclaim angel persuaded me otherwise. To humor him, I shot the trees. And... timberrrrr...they fell...on top of my head. Game over. My peers mocked me. I cried. You see, what I was supposed to do is shoot them from a different angle so that they would fall smack down on top of the dino baddies. The guardian angel demonstrated the error of my ways by effortlessly cutting down half the forest with a minigun, thus squashing the reptiles with enough falling timber to fill 10 Home Depots.
Most of the beasts won't sit and take a beating like the forest dinosaurs (who have brains the size of cashews, so you'll have to excuse their natural stupidity). Human-dino hybrids and other evolved enemies (usually the ones that shoot their prey instead of biting it) are much more clever. Think Halo and you know what Acclaim is aiming for. The early version already had bad guys intelligently diving for cover and flanking their targets, making me wonder how smart the finished game will be. Whether it will surpass the fantastic artificial intelligence in Microsoft's game is anyone's guess at this point. I can tell you that Evolution will put up a spirited fight. Just make sure that you don't forget to say "Don't mess with Texas" after each frag. Tal'Set wouldn't have it any other way.
If you are expecting a first person shooter for the Game Boy, you have picked the wrong game (might want to check out Doom). If you are looking for a Contra-style side-scrolling arcade game, then this game my friends, might just be for you.
Borrowing heavily from the 80's arcade style side-scrolling games that plagued arcades for years, Turok Evolution will be familiar territory for long time gamers. The first thing players will note is the relatively simple controls: jump, shoot, change weapons'it's the classic arcade setup that is best described as 'tried and true.'? Even still, I can't get over the fact that there wasn't anything that really jumped out at me as far as game controls went. Weapon selection was decent and even I found myself surprised at some of the bad guys that showed up to try and do me in. One nice surprise that I found was the solid, colorful graphics that the game contained. Sure, we're talking about a two and a half inch screen, but Turok Evolution, utilizes all the power of the Game Boy Advance.
Turok is a middle-of-the-road title as far as veteran gamers may be concerned, but if you haven't played many side scrollers then you might want to rent it first and then decide if it's worth purchasing.
Turok: Evolution takes the series back to its roots and tells the story of the Turok hero Tal'set, a Native American whose tribe is hunted by Captain Tobias Bruckner. As Captain Bruckner is bent on slaughtering Tal'set's tribe, he ambushes Tal'set, mortally wounded him in an attempted escape to Mexico. With the last of his strength, Tal'Set viscously attacked Captain Bruckner and the two fall into a cavern covered with strange markings. As the fight was about to continue, the cavern reacts to Tal'Set and a portal opens to the Lost Land swallowing both men.
Turok: Evolution is a first person shooter that gives the story of Tal'Set's first adventure in the Lost Land. Loaded with numerous weapons, flight sequences to add a different perspective, and interactive environments, this latest addition will keep most engaged for some time. In addition, a multiplayer option has been created as a separate function from the regular game and gives a number of ways to battle opponents through the Lost Lands.
Although one of the better first person shooters on the market for the Gamecube, it also has a few areas that could have been better. The controls, for instance, will take some time to get conformable with as a two-stick scheme is used for movement. After the first chapter however, most will have the kinks out and be taking out dinosaurs with ease. Another issue is the graphics. Often it seemed the lighting wasn't done right and the textures could have been better. It appears the X-Box port received the better end of the graphics but overall, the graphics are decent enough to not overly distract from the gameplay.
It was a toss up whether put Turok: Evolution as a 'Recommended Buy'? versus a 'Fans Only,'? but it came down to the game's short comings being just enough to cause some caution before buying. If you're a fan of the Turok series however, this will without a doubt be a purchase you'll want to make.
Well I know that the best game to come out on the Xbox so far has been Halo. It is the game all other Xbox titles (and some other systems) are compared to. So it was with a bit of surprise that I found myself digging Turok in much the same way as HALO, and when I say that, I really mean it.
Turok: Evolution is a first person shooter that for the most part, will feel very familiar to HALO. The game has user-friendly controls that include auto aim and smooth HUD control. Several preset control configurations are available to the discriminating player. Sadly there was not an option that allowed you to configure the controls but the default setting worked just fine for me. Now, I know that many gamers out there have a hard time playing a FPS on a console system but I will stress that given a little practice, you too will be killing dinosaurs and lizard men (slegs) with relative ease.
Something that this game does have that HALO doesn't, is a heightened gore factor. From the head splitting intro to the final decapitation, the blood certainly does pour out of the bad guys. Which leads me to one of the game's best features: the weapons. These types of games need effective and exciting weapons in order to make hunting fun and Turok: Evolution does deliver. Sniper rifles, compound bows shooting explosive arrows, and an evil looking tomahawk, are just some of the tools you will use to dispatch justice in this violent world.
Another exciting facet of the game is the levels that require you to fly an armed pterodactyl. This reminded me of the old Sega Saturn game Panzer Dragoon, only with sharper, better graphics. It really gives the game that extra something, as the challenges you are required to complete are wicked fun.
On a parental note, there are options to remove the gore, but what fun is that?
This is currently my favorite Xbox title. If you enjoyed HALO then you would do well to purchase this game. It has the right mix of fun, excitement and innovation.