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Score: 7.5 / 10
Turok: Evolution (TE) is the newest genesis
of the Turok series that has brought the adventure of hunting and
killing dinosaurs (both normal and of the mutated variety) to home
consoles everywhere. But instead of treading new ground in the
first-person shooter genre, TE copies the formulaic FPS foundation so
much so that gamers will get nothing in the whole package they havenít
seen done better in other games. Still, despite its lack of innovation,
TE (barely) manages to at least be worthy of the game rotation of Xbox
FPS fans that have grown tired of replaying Halo or Agent Under Fire and
are looking for a change of scenery.
The developers obviously had Halo in mind when they created TE. Much of
what is in TE (weapons, level design, music) has been done before
better, especially in Halo. The level layouts are similar in style and
length to what was seen in Haloís impressive design. But there are a few
too many areas of the game where its unclear as to where you should be
going next to advance in the action and also
precariously hidden danger areas on
cliff-type terrain that wind up sending you unexpectedly plummeting to
your death, forcing you to repeat levels.
TEís story doesnít really make a hell whole lot of sense and youíll
definitely feel like your in the middle of a Jurassic Park-themed game
at times, but at least youíll get plenty of playing time on the gameís
levels. TE isnít a
short game. It will take at least 25 hours to finish the gameís 14
levels. As the story goes, you are TalíSet, leader of the Saguin nation
of North American Indians. During a battle against Captain Bruckner, you
both find yourself thrust into an alternate world called the Lost Land,
filled with dinosaur creatures long extinct in the time you came from.
In addition to that, there is a race of vicious mutated dino-men under
the command of Lord Tyrannus that ally with Bruckner and whom you will
battle against with your human compatriots. Basically it turns into a
little cowboys-and-indians action mixed with Jurassic
What drove me absolutely insane were the levels that require you to
ditch the FPS gameplay and jump on the back of a Quetzalcoatlus. A large
flying dinosaur controlled by the humans you find yourself fighting
along side, you must shoot your way through perilous cliffs and
cavernous territory with a lack of acceptable controls to navigate
safely to the missionís end. Itís apparent that the old Sega Saturn
Panzer Dragoon games (as well as the upcoming Xbox-exclusive series
update, Panzer Dragoon Orta) are the inspiration of TEís flight mode.
But while the old rail-driven action of the Panzer Dragoon had decent
shooting and flight controls that made playing them a good time, TEís
totally-devoid-of-good- -control flying missions usually require
multiple frustrating attempts to complete. Some are so difficult, I
wouldnít be surprised if there is many a gamer that has abandoned the
game at that point, maddeningly refusing to progress any further (and
using cheat codes doesnít help you here either: you can still die even
with the invincibility cheat activated). Thatís how badly these flying
missions detract from the gameplay experience.
One area where the developers really nailed the Halo impression is in
the sound and musical score department. While it canít top the
beautifully perfect music that floated throughout Halo, itís right up
there in quality. The sound effects are exceptionally well crafted too.
The sound of the thick jungle floor being trounced by your feet (or for
that case your enemyís feet or the dinosaurs populating the world) is a
good touch. The chatter of the mutant dinosaurs that comprise the rather
large force that squares off against you is similar to what was heard in
Halo in the same respect. Weapons fire provides the appropriate amount
of genuine noise, and while not overly impressive the roaring and
vocalizations of the many dinosaurs that fill TE are good.
Defined by the PCís keyboard and mouse control, FPS action has been
notoriously difficult in the past translating to consoles. The default
controller setup in TE copies Halo, but if you like me arenít totally
comfortable with that configuration, it can be changed. The game handles
reasonably well, but it can get a little twitchy at times, particularly
when trying to climb up ladders or vines. As already mentioned, the
flight controls are atrociously difficult and unwieldy, so I wonít
embellish any further on that. Overall, having your character do what
you want him to do is done with relative ease. One minor disappointment
was not being able to use any of the vehicles that show up in the dino-men's
Of course as you would expect thereís the usual array of weapons that
show up in a FPS. You've got your flame throwers, rocket launchers,
plasma cannons, shotguns, grenades, pistols, and machine gun-type
weaponry in your arsenal. Since you are an Indian, you have a bow with a
variety of different arrows as well. And what would an well-stocked
arsenal be without a small-scale nuke at your disposal to make burnt
toast of everything in sight. One great feature of the various weapons
is that each has an alternate (usually more powerful) second attack or
function, which usually comes from an upgrade found in your travels.
For instance, the rocket launcher can be configured with a power-up to
shoot five missiles instead of one. Or even better yet, a nuke
attachment can be fitted for when you want to get radioactive on the
enemy. Also lying around are power-ups for health, keys that must be
found to open blocked entranceways and ammo refills for your weapons.
These are not always strategically placed, though, as sometimes they
will be in areas where you wonít need them and they will be sorely
missing from parts of the game where you really could use a health kit
or extra round of ammunition after or during a heavy battle.
Graphically the game isnít spectacular, but can be impressive at times.
The dinosaurs that you encounter are realistically rendered. Some of the
dinos seen are the brontosaurus, compys, vicious raptors, and the bad
boy of them all, tyrannosaurus rex. The mutated dino-men in TE kind of
resemble the soldiers that were in the forgettable Super Mario Bros.
live-action flick from a few years back Some of the outdoor levels have
the appropriate level of jungleness to their appearance, although when
you find yourself surrounded by large jungle plants up close thereís a
massive outbreak of pixelation. Also the times when you find yourself
submerged in water can disappointingly create a graphical breakup and
flutter that creates some confusing gameplay moments.
And finally, what would a FPS be without multiplayer? The usual
deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag is joined by some
unusual modes like monkey tag, where the object is for you to hold onto
the monkey (yeah, a monkey) the longest. Thereís also a multiplayer
fight using the aforementioned Questzalcoatluses, but I DEFINITELY would
recommend staying away from that. One fun character that is available to
select from in multiplayer is a raptor. You canít pick up any weapons,
but your sharp claws, teeth and swift movement make up for it.
Turok: Evolution really tries too hard (unsuccessfully for the most
part) to be just like Halo in many areas and the flying levels nearly
ruin the game experience, but the levels that are strictly first-person
shooting in addition to the good multiplayer options make up for it by
being a bloody dino-killing good time. If the game was more clear on
your level objectives, the levels themselves filled with less invisible
walls, and the flight missions were done with better controls (or my
choice eliminated altogether) then TE could have been closer in quality
to the game it wants so badly to be.