Turok is back!
November 12, 2007 – I never really realized that I missed the Turok franchise until just recently. It seemed as if it had always been available, and quietly slipped into oblivion five years ago. But luckily for me (and other fans of the series) a demo has been made available for the Xbox 360. And how sweet it is. Turok will have you slaying dinosaurs and bad guys just like the old days, but with a completely new approach to the classic franchise that is sure to knock your socks off.
The demo starts you off in a cave. A very dark and somewhat mossy cave on an unknown planet. Your mission? Get out alive. As you can imagine, this involves shooting up some unsuspecting dinosaurs. But the real challenge here is the “getting out” part. The cave is a literal labyrinth, and there’s enough twists, turns, and dead ends to make your head spin. And I won’t spoil it here, but eventually you’ll notice that the way out has been staring you in the face for quite some time. Once you clear that, then it’s on to the fun.
Once you make your way outside, you’ll really start to notice the potential for this game. First things first, we must mention the graphics. Now video game graphics have come a long way since 2002, but Turok looks good by even modern standards. The environment which you’ll find yourself in is a tall grass bush-type area in which every plant and tree looks polished and moves independently. The look of the characters also benefits from the added sunlight. They all have very solid-looking models with enough detail to compensate the eyes without being jarring. The demo also supports HD output up to 1080p, so for those of you with HD-TVs, you’ll get to experience the full effect of just how awesome this game looks.
But don’t marvel at the demo’s beauty for too long, because you’ve got to get right on your game immediately. The A.I. in the demo is super tight, and the dinosaurs will sniff you out almost immediately if you stand in one spot for too long. As you move through the new area, you’ll start to learn a little bit about your background, and you’ll even get a flashback cutscene of your mentor training you how to be ultra-ninja-stealthy. One of the main differences that has been publicized between Turok and its franchise predecessors is Turok’s focus on story. While earlier installments were great for shoot-’em-up action, there was little substance behind them. This deficiency was noted, and now we’re going to get a wildly amazing story about Joseph Turok and his quest to track down his rogue master. Of course you only get a slight taste of the story in the demo, but it’s enough to keep you wanting more.
And while the new focus on story is a very nice treat, fans of the series are probably most concerned with the gameplay. And who wouldn’t be? Turok has such lore behind it; even if it’s only remembered for its dinosaurs, the Turok signature style has been enough to attract fans iteration after iteration. I am happy to report that the gameplay here is phenomenal. The shooting mechanics are spot-on, the bow mechanics are incredibly sharp, and the addition of new stealthy knife moves works extremely well. Although the knife mechanism has been seen before, Turok takes it to a new (and surprisingly useful) level. One of the first missions you go on in the demo is to silently kill as many bad guys as you can. This is where your knife weapon shines. You are able to crouch down low and sneak up on these guys. Then with a quick pull of the right trigger you are suddenly on top of him stabbing him in the chest or the face. But if your timing is just a little off…you’ll probably end up with a bullet or two in the chest. So the moral here is to either be really good at being stealthy or just go for the traditional guns blazing approach. This is definitely not a bad thing, considering that you start with a veritable arsenal of guns at your disposal, and you can only improve upon your collection from there. Another thing that fans of the franchise will appreciate is the reappearance of Turok’s bow. The bow essentially functions how it used to, with an optional pullback for better speed and accuracy, but the whole process takes some serious skill so be prepared!
From the looks of the near 30-minute demo, Turok looks like it is going to be one awesome game. Killer graphics, exciting gameplay, and an engaging story are all banding together to revitalize one of the gaming world’s lost gems. And who could say no to a FPS that takes place on an alien planet with dinosaurs? I figure it is a formula that works, and I am so happy to see Turok revitalized and poised to come full circle in February 2008 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3!