?Dinosaurs eat meat. You are meat. Run away!? is just one of the amusing bits of advice you?ll read while respawning in Turok, a spiritual successor to one of the first worthy first-person 3-D shooters for consoles.
While not as groundbreaking as 1996?s Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for the Nintendo 64, this new shooter for the PlayStation 3 is laudable on its own merit, delivering an immersive action experience spread throughout great-looking environments. It doesn?t hold a candle to last year?s incredible shooters -- such as BioShock, Halo 3, Call of Duty 4 or The Orange Box -- but this ambitious adventure proves to be a fun romp through a dangerous world.
Created by Vancouver?s Propaganda Games and published through Touchstone (er, Disney), Turok once again stars Native American criminal-turned-soldier, Joseph Turok, who crash lands on a mysterious planet with teammates who don?t want him there. Our muscle-bound and Mohawk-sporting hero, however, has bigger problems, as this world is populated by vicious dinosaurs and a malicious military organization likely responsible for shooting down their spaceship. Over time, Turok will make amends with fellow squad members and discover how and why this planet has living dinosaurs roaming about.
Not all dinosaurs are deadly, of course, but you?ll need to take down meat-eating beasts like Tyrannosaurus Rex. In one memorable scene about three hours into the game, the coast seemed clear, so I began climbing a ladder to reach the top of a lookout point; all of a sudden I was yanked down to the ground by not one but two Velociraptors. Interestingly, this wasn?t a scripted event, as when I played the level again (I was, after all, killed in this surprise attack) and noticed the raptors chasing each other only after I reached the top of the tower.
Turok?s core gameplay will be familiar to fans of first-person shooters, as the game doesn?t deviate much from the formula: You?ll be accomplishing missions, such as finding a specific site or gaining entrance into a facility, while taking down those who stand in your way with all kinds of weaponry, most of which offer primary and secondary fire options. Tapping the PS3?s left or right directional buttons toggles between various guns -- including automatic rifles, shotguns, dual-wielding handguns, a sniper rifle and a sticky bomb rifle -- as well as grenades, rocket launcher, combat knife (for close combat kills) and my personal preference, a bow. (Knife and bow are equipped by pressing the up and down directional buttons, respectively).
In order to remain undetected when facing large groups, you can hide in the bushes; holding down the right trigger button pulls back the bow. Now you?ve got a few seconds to line up the crosshairs on an unsuspecting human and let go (dinosaurs and other creatures on this planet aren?t as affected by arrows as people). Wait too long and your hand will shake and the arrow will fly off uncontrollably.
Aside from the bow and arrow, none of the guns are that memorable, though the grenades and rocket launchers were fun in multiplayer games (more on this in a moment).
Having also reviewed the Xbox 360 version of the game for Crispy Gamer, I can tell you the lack of rumble support in the PS3 controller is sorely missed. Naturally, PS3 owners won?t likely play the Xbox 360 version, therefore they might not know what they?re missing, but the vibration felt while shooting arrows, killing a beast up close, or firing an automatic machine gun feels great on the Xbox 360 version.
Turok also offers a few context-sensitive moments, where you must press the correct button repeatedly, according to the onscreen icon. This might be to open heavy doors, to prevent a dinosaur from eating you by opening its mouth wide enough to escape, or to perform a quiet kill with your combat knife up close. Players should also master a dodge-and-roll maneuver, which will come in handy for those who want to stay alive.
Speaking of which, along with being ripped down off a ladder by two raptors, other highlights include intense boss fights against both man and beast (nope, we won?t give away too much, here).
Visually speaking, the developers at Propaganda Games did a great job creating a lush, green world in which to play. I?d estimate two-thirds of the game takes place outdoors, offering multiple paths and hiding places from which to choose. At times you?ll see a small arrow indicating where you?re supposed to go next, but you don?t feel like you?re on a tight leash. The dinosaurs move smoothly and enjoy high-resolution scaly textures (which you can really only appreciate when you?re up close ? after they?re dead, of course). Water and blood also look quite good.
Along with the eight-hour-or-so single-player campaign, which is decent but not exceptional, Turok also features a number of multiplayer maps and modes for up to 16 players. This includes traditional Deathmatch and Capture the Flag games, a mission-based war game (with tasks such as ?defend your base? or ?find a bomb?), and the cream of the crop, a co-op mode where players can form a squad and battle another team of up to four gamers.
For those who want to host a private match, you?ve got about a dozen rules to tweak including whether or not you want friendly fire (and if you want to punish teammate killers with a ?betrayal penalty?), respawn times, flag carrying options and more.
As confirmed by Propaganda Games, the PlayStation 3 version of Turok is virtually identical to the Xbox 360 version, but online PS3 gamers can?t chat on a headset while playing with others. Also, at the time of writing this, it?s more difficult to find players on the PlayStation Network compared to the many eager gamers on Xbox Live, therefore there are less options for types of games, and generally speaking less players per game.
The multiplayer maps and modes are ok, with co-op being the highlight, but there are many better examples of CTF and Deathmatch thanks to last year?s stellar shooter lineup.
Because of its blas? weapons and relatively short solo campaign, Turok is a good but not great game. Gamers can definitely finish the single-player adventure over a weekend, and should get a few weeks of multiplayer fun, but it?s one of those titles that straddle between a rental and a must-buy. In other words, Turok doesn?t stand up to the likes of other recent shooters, but it does offer cool kills, attractive environments and some nail-biting moments.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.