Previews// All New Turok - First Looks

The game’s dinosaurs have a touch of zombification to them...

Posted 10 Jan 2007 19:38 by

Some could say it's flogging a dead dino...
Some could say it's flogging a dead dino...
Watching an old game franchise die can be a painful affair akin to watching a relative afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. Typically a slow decline develops into such complete meltdown that you find it hard to remember the good times. A games franchise in terminal decline will be subjected to increasingly desperate attempts at revitalisation; these inevitably turn it into something that lacks the merits that made it so attractive in the first place. But one thing was for sure – when a franchise finally dies an excruciating death, it isn’t coming back.

A while back, a once-loved franchise suffered just such an agonising decline, before dying in what seemed the most comprehensive manner imaginable. Those who once owned Nintendo64s will remember Acclaim’s, ahem, acclaimed Turok. An unusual and endearing first-person shooter which emerged in 1997: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter cast you as what the forces of political correctness dictate we must now refer to as a Native American, shooting and puzzle-solving your way through a lush Lost Planet-style environment populated by dinosaurs. Along with the likes of GoldenEye, it was one of those games that made the N64 look better than it actually was.

Sadly, by then, Acclaim was in its own terminal decline, although Turok 2: Seeds of Evil came out in 1998, also for the N64, to a generally positive response. By the time Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion arrived in 2000, the game had morphed into a darker, more twisted gore-fest with no resemblance to the original, whose sole merit was that it was just about the only N64 shooter released that year.

Thrashing around in its own death throes, Acclaim determined to milk its dinosaur-splatting franchise, and came out with Turok: Evolution (for GameCube, PS2 and Xbox) in 2002. This was an absolute minger of a game that the public treated with contempt. In 2004, Acclaim finally succumbed to bankruptcy. Turok could not have been deader if it was buried in a lead-lined coffin in the foundations of Spaghetti Junction.

...but a good idea remains a good idea.
...but a good idea remains a good idea.
Turok Rises From The Grave
But wait: what’s this we hear? Turok, it seems was merely sleeping after all. Indeed, this year will see a new version of the game emerge on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, published, surprisingly, by Buena Vista Games (the games wing of Disney) and developed by the hitherto unknown, Vancouver-based Propaganda Studios. Propelled by a healthy dose of scepticism, the stink of those later Turok games in our nostrils, we headed out to Vancouver to check out the game and talk to Propaganda - and we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw and heard.

21st-century Turok
You may well ask whether the world needs another first-person shooter, particularly based on what seemed to be a dead franchise. But Turok has some decent selling points. It’s not one of those fpses that eschews a storyline: you play Special Forces commando Joseph Turok (kitted out in armour which makes him resemble Marcus Fenix, so he’s not as overtly Native American as in the original games), part of a squad on a mission to eliminate a war criminal residing on a lush, dinosaur-populated planet. let's wait for the full version. let's wait for the full version.
This storyline means that there’s a mix of on-foot and vehicle-bound gameplay, and a decent proportion of the cut-scenes concern Turok’s relationship with the rest of his squad. There are boss-battles, too.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the game is that you are taking on two, very different enemies: troops (under the leadership of Roland Kane, Turok’s former mentor) and dinosaurs. Cannily, as Propaganda VP and CEO Josh Holmes explains in this interview, the game’s dinosaurs have a touch of zombification to them, so not only do they look pretty forbidding, they are pretty fearsome in their keenness to taste human flesh.
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RiseFromYourGrave 11 Jan 2007 13:56
"SPOnG" wrote:
it was one of those games that made the N64 look better than it actually was.

no idea at all how that works

all in all though, id love to see a new, revitalised turok doing well again. i liked the first game, and the second was even more brilliantly OTT and beautiful at the time but i felt its tedious level design took a winding dump on it. i was so frustrated on the last couple of levels. i havent played another turok game since, i knew i wasnt missing much.
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