Gamestyle Archive intro: Chris tackles and infamous gaming series often subject to some lavish marketing stunts and claims. Turok on the N64 was a fun diversion but nothing more; could the Gamecube prove to be a more suitable host?
Writer: Chris Faires
Published: September 2002
Turok Evolution eh? No doubt you’ll have read our excellent reviews of the Xbox versions released over a month ago. Consistent with the delayed Gamecube release, and for absolute balance here’s a delayed review of Turok Evolution GC. I’m gonna presume that you’ve read one or both of the previous Evolution reviews, and that saves me repeating a lot of points. A brief introduction: Comic book adaptation… N64…Dinosaur Hunter, T2, Rage Wars, T3: Shadow of Oblivion… total 6 million copies sold… dinosaurs… huge guns… decapitation… boom! You play as Tal’ Set, a warrior who transported to the Lost Lands to battle with Lord Tyrannous’s minions, the slags. Sorry, I mean Slegs, evil lizardmen who are as bright as the Blazin’ Squad. Your mission: to defeat Captain Bruckner, originally from your world but who has sided with Tyrannous. He must be stopped at all costs, for some reason or another.
A Nintendo console is the spiritual home for Turok titles, and it seems fitting that the GC is home to the better version of Evolution. Not that the game is radically different from the PS2/ Xb versions in content, but it’s worth remembering that all three versions were coded separately, and choice seems to be GC. The main reason for this has to be the Gamecube pad. Less clunky than Xbox’s, its compact enough for you to be able to reach all the buttons, even the Z button has a purpose in engaging the sniping function. The combination of analogue and C sticks work well in tandem, better than I expect the two PS2 sticks will. The controls aren’t anything special in Evolution, but they’re a massive improvement on the default controls for Turok 2 which awkwardly used the N64’s C buttons. Here, the default controls are inverted so personal preferences will rule whether you want to change this or not. I do because I like up being up, but I dislike the fact that Evolution won’t remember this, and requires me to select the option every time I load my game file.
First impressions are good. The gameworld is well realised, a resplendent forest with a decent draw distance with antelopes frolicking by the trees. You couldn’t kill one of those mellow, passive creatures in cold blood, could you? Well, that sniper mode is very tempting. Almost…too tempting. The slegs are slightly different. If they see you, they’ll start shooting, and they won’t stop. Ground based troops will hunt you down, whereas snipers will stand their ground. Acclaim have vaunted their ‘Squad Dynamics AI’, alas I can’t see any noticeable differences or an intelligence compared to Timesplitters2 or Halo. They’re more than just cannon fodder, they can hide, retreat and follow, but they have barely been trained in armed combat, let alone ‘Squad Dynamics’.
It’s very reminiscent of Turok 2, albeit without a pseudo-epic storyline and huge levels. The levels are now chapters, and include split sections with precise instructions. Linearity is more the case as you’ll have to get from A to B by pressing (can you guess?) Switches! and Jumping! from platform to platform. There isn’t too much of this, but there aren’t enough quirky missions either, like luring a T-Rex over a cliff to his death using a toy Iguanodon on the end of a fishing reel. Graphically the game is very smooth, although there is a small amount of pop-up in the background, what irritates the most is foliage that covers your view but doesn’t hide you. Up close they appear more blocky than you would want, and you get the sense that Evolution hasn’t as much detail per pixel as Turok 2 had. Ah well, at least you can move sprightly now.
The sound is worth mentioning, from the score, which uses various instruments including some nice pan pipe work, to the sound effects of the weapons, henchman and dinos brought to you in an excellent Dolby sound mix, which I’m sure sounds brilliant on a surround sound system. This goes little way to explaining why Turok has received such a critical lashing. The multiplayer game, despite several variants, is terrible. The flying levels show a willingness to experiment but the controls aren’t good enough. The major factor must be that that experimentation doesn’t show up enough. Dying frustrates on long levels, as although you have infinite level restarts and a generous array of health packs there aren’t interlevel checkpoints, so death means starting with full weapons right at the start of that section. The range of weapons are good, but even a mushroom-cloud creating nuke isn’t as fun as a cerebral bore was.
Turok Evolution seems a victim of it’s own hype machine, a big release that has underwhelmed reviewers and gamesplayers. It’s not a bad game by any means, some criticisms of previous titles have been addressed, but it just feels like a continuation of its predecessors rather than a leap forward for the series. Compare it to it’s current peers the cerebral Hitman 2 and the option-packed Timesplitters 2, and Turok comes a disappointing third. If you’ve got a GC and aren’t bothered with friends, or maybe you like sniping lizards and animals, you’ll find a place in the Lost Lands. If you consider all these games to be too easy, then you’ll want to check out the GBA Version.
The ‘Evolution’ in the title shows that someone in Austin has a wry sense of humour. I can’t see many gamers maintaining their interest in the series unless problems like the weak AI and over familiar territory are massively improved. Some have claimed that Turok is heading for extinction, and it certainly looks that way unless Acclaim want to hear my suggestion: Turok vs Jurassic Park, kinda like Unreal Tournament with dinosaurs, system linked or on Xbox live.
Gamestyle Score: 5/10