|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Propaganda Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Touchstone||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 31, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16 (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
Depending on your history with the Turok franchise, you'll likely have one of two responses to the return of gaming's dino-hunting hero; those who enjoyed the first couple of titles brand of raptor-slaying fun on the N64 should be happy to see the Native American ass-kicker making his next-gen debut. But if your time with Turok was limited to his last appearance on the GameCube, PS2 or Xbox, then you're probably going to run from this new entry as though it were a human flesh-craving carnivore.
N64's Turok titles offered a fun, slightly tweaked FPS experience, but the series last-gen entry failed to register with critics or players in an age when Halo--and its many copy cat competitors--was overtaking the console shooter kingdom. Nearly six years and umpteenth alien/zombie/military shooters after Turok: Evolution, publisher Touchstone and developer Propaganda Games thought it a good time to take the leash off the dinos, and sic them on a new generation of gamers. The result is an often fun, but sometimes frustrating, FPS experience that mostly manages to separate itself from the me-too pack with the series' staple: scaly-skinned, sharp-fanged, prehistoric beasties.
Without the wild card of Jurassic giants, Turok would feel a lot like other first-person-shooters you've played recently. Its lush jungles will remind you of Far Cry and Crysis, and its endless army of clone-like super soldiers will remind you of...well...take your pick; this past holiday season alone gave us more generic baddies--Area 51, F.E.A.R. Files, TimeShift--than you can aim a plasma beam at. Thankfully, Turok breaks the familiar feel with its ground-shaking T-Rex's and its human-hungering raptors. Whether you're watching the beasts from afar--they are pretty to look at--, high-tailing it away from their vicious attacks, or driving your hunting knife through their skull, their presence is welcome in this over-crowded genre. In fact, we'd love to see a sequel that forgoes the human threat entirely and just drops us in Jurassic Park.
Killing the dinos is a blast; pull the right trigger when you're in range, and one of a handful of slick animations will unfold, most beginning with your knife to their head or throat, and all ending with a nice spurt of dinosaur blood. Despite the limited animations, this mechanic--probably because it's so quick and satisfying--never grows old. And not all raptor encounters end with a dino corpse sitting at your feet; you'll often have to fend off their attacks by jamming on the trigger buttons. Whether you're on the giving or receiving end, you'll never have a problem attacking or defending because Propaganda was kind enough to keep the context-sensitive stuff to the two triggers--sometimes you'll have to press both simultaneously. The mechanic would've grown frustrating fast if players had to react to a random on-screen cue every time a dino decided he wanted to take a bite out of you.
While your over-sized Rambo blade is the best defense against the prehistoric populace, you'll be breaking out the heavier hardware for your human adversaries. Don't misunderstand; it's just as satisfying to stealthily come behind an unfriendly and pry their skull open with the serrated blade, but it's usually easier to take them out from afar. Turok's arsenal has the familiar favorites--shotguns, sniper rifles, flame- throwers, grenades--, but all weapons possess a secondary mode, offering players an alternate means of creatively taking down foes. The gatling gun, for example, can be set to fire on its own as a stationary turret, and the flamethrower has the corridor-clearing ability to hurl plasma grenades. The weapon selection is further supported by Turok's old stand-by: the bow and arrow; the high-tech--this ain't just a string tied to both ends of a stick--weapon fires regular and explosive arrows and, with the right torque applied, can skewer baddies, pinning them to trees and walls. You're not going use the bow as much as the other weapons, but it's still nice to always have it at your disposal; both the bow and knife are always equipped in addition to two firearms.