The original Turok:
Dinosaur Hunter wasn't exactly revolutionary, but it was a
landmark title in the console FPS genre. In addition to almost
single-handedly reviving a struggling Acclaim, it helped to
establish (along with Goldeneye) the N64 as the FPS console
of choice during the last hardware generation. Over time the series
faltered a bit, staying consistently good but never approaching the
quality and impact of the original. Now Acclaim is attempting to
evolve the series and keep up with the big boys (Halo, Red
Faction II, etc.) with the latest game in the series, Turok:
Evolution. Turok: Evolution marks the first time the
Turok series has appeared on multiple platforms; unfortunately,
beyond that the series has really evolved very little.
In a way, that's
a good thing as the series has actually returned to its roots. This
game is a prequel to the entire series, as it lays out Tal'Set's
origins as a Dinosaur Hunter. While fighting Captain Tobias Buckner
in 1886, both fall into a rift between the two worlds and end up in
the Lost Lands. Tal'Set journeys to find Buckner and extract his
revenge, but his new enemies (and allies) have other plans for him.
Not terribly deep or revolutionary, but it keeps the story moving
and is pretty standard for the genre.
In this attempt
to recover the series' past, Turok: Evolution plays pretty
simply compared to the more modern FPS games of today. Tal'Set's
objectives range from destroying every enemy in the area to finding
key items, and usually in order to accomplish this several platforms
and other heights must be scaled…thus like the original. Jumping
is much easier to pull off here than in the original game though, so
the added platform elements not found in most FPS games is a welcome
addition. Surprisingly, despite this return to the series' roots the
original "Turok" control scheme (in the original N64
version the four C buttons controlled movement) isn't offered in the
GameCube version. It's understandable given the oddly shaped and
placed face buttons, but still a bit disappointing. Mission
objectives are very straightforward and will rarely (if ever) test
the player's trigger finger and not their mind. The main quest is
extremely linear - perform objective A, move on to B, continue until
the end of the level is reached.
Brand new to the
series this time around is a flying mode, in which Tal'Set hops onto
the back of a big bird equipped with various weapons. This mode is
fairly simple, with a couple primary weapons and intuitive flying
controls. In comparison to other flying games it's pretty
simplistic, but as a mere part of this game it fits in pretty well.
I'd rather the levels not be there at all though, as they break up
the flow of the game and feel of the world. Plus, it's obvious the Turok
engine wasn't originally designed for flying, as the mode is much
less impressive both graphically and control-wise. Overall they're
OK though, and shouldn't totally turn off dedicated FPS fans.
In addition to
the engine shortcomings, Turok: Evolution feels like an
unfinished game in several other areas. The most obvious example is
in the enemy A.I. Sometimes it works as advertised, with enemies
ducking for cover, establishing formations, alerting allies,
attacking from the flank, etc. Other times, the enemies act very
dumbly. For example, in sniper mode they often don't even move after
getting shot. They just stand there waiting to get shot again and
again until they're eventually killed. Killing enemies around other
enemies usually doesn't alert those surrounding ones, so from a
hidden position the player can easily pick off numerous enemies in a
group one by one. When it works it's on the same level as Halo,
but it only works about half the time.
element in this Turok is destructible environments, and again it
feels somewhat unfinished. Firing on various trees can send them
sprawling towards foes, and large dinosaurs can also knock them
over. Many objects enemies use to hide behind can also be destroyed,
forcing them out into the open. Unfortunately these elements show up
infrequently and aren't easily distinguished, so when they're
encountered the player often doesn't realize they can use them until
it's useless to do so. They also aren't necessary in the least, as
no objectives require destroying certain environment objects to
progress further. For example, something like blowing down a certain
tree to scale and reach another ledge would've been nice.
The graphics are
good, but it's obvious that Turok: Evolution was developed
primarily with the PS2 version in mind and then ported over to the
GameCube. The GameCube version doesn't feature any of the nice
lighting effects present in the Xbox version, but it does seem to
run a bit faster and closer to 60fps. The textures are identical to
the PS2 version's, but the GCN version doesn’t have any of the
horrible draw-in and framerate issues that the PS2 version does.
There's a ton of foliage to be found, all of it swaying
realistically in the wind and reacting to animals that walk through
it. The dinosaur models are nicely detailed, and come the closest
yet a game has to rivaling Jurassic Park (the movie). Blood
spatters quite nicely, although it's a bit disappointing that dead
dinos and blood eventually disappear from the world. Like the A.I.,
the graphics are solid but also feel a bit unfinished.
probably the only area that feels finished, and it's fantastic. The
GameCube version makes great use of DLP II surround sound to really
put the player "inside" the jungle, but the music suffers
compared to the Xbox version (probably due to the smaller disk
size). Each weapon has its own unique sound, and each enemy sounds
as realistic as one would expect. The music is tense and pulsing,
and really immerses the player into the world of Turok. A rocking
soundtrack makes a big difference in any FPS, and Turok's perfectly
fits both the theme and pace of the game. Excellent stuff.
- Tried and
true gameplay that will appease fans of the genre.
- Awesome sound
effects and an outstanding music score.
- The GameCube
version features the fastest framerate of the three and a
farther draw distance than the PS2 version.
- The A.I. is
spotty at best, and as a result the game is a bit easier than it
- The flying
levels are solid, but I'd prefer they weren't in the game at
all. If I wanted to play a mediocre flight game, I'd break out Savage
is what it is: a solid and above average FPS that will provide hours
of enjoyment for fans of the genre. A few more months in development
finishing up the A.I. and graphics could've turned it into something
worth picking up for GameCube-only owners, as good FPS games are few
and far between on the system and Metroid Prime isn't out
yet. That's why this version gets the same score as the Xbox
version, despite inferior graphics and sound (I'm pretty sure the
'Cube could've handled what the Xbox version does).