Turok Impressions

I both love and hate Turok at times, but mostly I've found it to be a pretty enjoyable game.

The single player is the part that most drags. While the gameplay can be fun, it's the constant and increasingly suspension of belief that gets in the way of my truly enjoying the story. Why, for instance, are there dinosaurs on this planet? Why did I awake from suspended animation in a space ship wearing ammo belts and heavy gear, but no weapon. It's these little things that sort of drive me nuts. But then I shiv someone and I forget, for a bit, that the enemy artificial intelligence is so very dim-witted.

The game's maps are some of the most enjoyable maps that I've seen since Call of Duty 4, but in a very different way. Things are very green and volcanic. The dinosaurs, those reason-defying dinosaurs, are all over the place. And they all act very differently. Some you can kind of skirt carefully and not worry about, others you can grab by their scrawny necks and gut like a chicken, still others stalk you like reptilian panthers. What's really weird is that they seem to be smarter than the humans you take on in the game.

I managed to make my way through more than half of the single-player campaign before deciding that I'd really rather just play the online matches. It's online, in amazingly diverse maps, where this game will thrive, I think.

First there's the fact that you can still use that deadly knife to dispatch your opponents. As you creep up on somehow your hand with the knife in it raises and when you get close enough a right-trigger symbol flashes on the screen. If you time it right you're paid off with an instant kill depicted in a short, gruesome animation. It's wonderful, thrilling. But also it's the main reason I get shot down so many times in matches. I love the knife kill so much I tend to use it in really idiotic situations, like when facing an opponent who sees me and is armed with a chain gun. But that's more my fault than the game's.

The game has other weapons, but really the only one that lives up to the knife is a compound bow, which requires some real skill to kill with and comes with a meager supply of explosive-tipped arrows.

A really neat thing about the multiplayer maps is that many of them are populated with the creatures from the single player game, something that tends to freak you out the first time you experience it. There's nothing like stalking a foe with a knife only to be knocked down by a horse-sized dinosaur... and then promptly torn to shreds. Better still, it's fun to watch a dinosaur taking down an enemy and then swooping in at the last minute to finish the job... with your knife.

Some of the maps also include some moving terrain, like the one on the active volcano that spews out bits of damaging lava at times.

Turok's single player missions might be a bit on the weak side, perhaps lacking the cohesion necessary to make it as riveting as it should be, but if you're getting a little sick of the Halo-brand of online sci-fi shoot-em ups, Turok provides at least a brief change in tone and style.


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