To say Turok was a highly anticipated game is a massive understatement. Many of you will of heard of the people who agreed to change their name to Turok and that guy who spent weeks camping outside a London game store, just to be the first to own the game. But with all this hype can the game really be all that good?
I didn't get to play the original titles in the series, so I originally didn't see what all the hype was about. After seeing some early shots of the game and reading the early press releases I got quite interested. Turok; Evolution is a first person shooter that doesn't really try to add anything new to the genre, instead it attempts to improve graphics, sound and A.I. whilst throwing a good storyline into the mix.
The game is based around a chap called Tal'Set, in the middle of a war he gets transported to the land where the dinosaurs roam. He is then given the task of bringing down the evil dictator Tyranus.
The game is your standard first person shooter game, which involves you generally trying to get from point A to point B, collecting weapons and ammo as you go. The game doesn't actually give you large amounts of dinosaurs to fight, instead they are used as 'scenery', though you do get to take on a t-rex relatively early on in the game. Instead of dinosaurs, you find yourself fighting reptile people. The weapons in the game are extremely varied, with certain weapons having different ammunition types, so the bow, can be used with arrows, poison arrows and explosive arrows. The Flechette gun can use bullets as secondary ammo giving you a mini-gun. Both the tech-bow and the pistol have a zoom function, giving you the chance to snipe your enemy from afar. You'll find yourself adopting tactics that suit your style and choice of weapon quite early on in the game, and running out of ammunition doesn't seem to be a major concern.
The A.I. of your enemies completely kills the game. If this had been perfected then the game may have been a winner. At times the A.I really does work and you'll find yourself taking cover as your opponent jumps from behind a rock takes a few shots at you, then returns to cover. Then your next opponent will lob a grenade at you a run straight into the explosion, while his other buddy is stuck on a piece of scenery. It's easy to see the routines that different enemies have been programmed with, and it's even easier to exploit them.
The A.I is further let down by the stealth element of the game. One chapter of the game requires you to infiltrate an enemy base via a conveniently placed hole running under the outer walls. Now if you get spotted it's just a case of stepping behind a wall for a short while until the alarm is turned off. If any of you played the original Syphon Filter for the ps1 you'll know how a base infiltration level should be done, and what should happen if you get caught.
In between shooting sections Tal'Set takes to the skies on a flying dinosaur. This section of the game is relatively well executed, though it does still have a few problems. On a few occasions it is extremely difficult to see where you are supposed to be going. The sections are fun and do help to break up the fps sections of the game, the sections don't seem to be an afterthought either, as they fit suitably into the game.
Graphically the game is ambitious but occasionally can just fall short. There is a bit of a problem with pop-up in the game, whereby trees, bushes and almost any other piece of scenery will appear as if by magic, though Acclaim do seem to have made an effort to hide this and at times it can be forgotten. The different environments are well executed, as you get further into the game you will come across more civilized areas and so a different style of scenery. This gradual change is a very nice touch and fits in extremely well with the games feel. Also some levels are extremely well designed, one of the earlier chapters finds you scaling up a mountain following the treacherous paths. Along the way you will find yourself looking down across terrain that you have already passed. The scale of some of these levels is spot on and gives quite a good sense of achievement. Though there are further problems with the game. Frame rates do get a little bit choppy at times and when you compare the textures and resolution to those of other games being released, they don't quite live up to the required standard. Also the game seems to retain a bit of that old N64 style.
The sound in the game fits well, the general ambience of the backing sound stands out and has obviously had plenty of attention paid to it. Weapon sounds fit well with the appearance of the weapons, and the reptiles make reptile type growls.
Game controls can be a bit fidly at times, and there are problems with aiming that most other fps games on the ps2 have overcome. Also when enemies commando roll it seems as if your bullets aren't hitting them. Due to the often awkward aiming, you may find that you are loading loads of ammunition into an enemies location in the vain hope that you hit him. This problem could have easily overcome with just a little more development time.
Most FPS games have a decent multiplayer mode, and most gamers want more and more from each new release. Turok is an amazing disappointment. It adds nothing (as far as I can see) to the genre. The frame rate is absolutely appalling, when you go in close for a kill, the frame rate chugs at a few frames per second. Also deathmatch arenas are sub-par when compared to other games in the genre. The only part of the multiplayer experience that separates the game from its' rivals is the selection of power-ups in the arenas, jump boots and empathy breastplates, do make the gameplay a good chunk more varied and interesting, its' just a shame that the rest of the mode disappoints.
The game does not try and hold itself out in any special way, Timesplitters had it's frantic multiplayer, Red Faction had Geo-Mod, but Turok: Evolution doesn't seem to have anything new at all. The game achieves so much in some areas and then lets itself down in many others. If you're a huge fps or Turok fan then you might like the game, but casual players may want to try before they buy.