Friday, June 13, 2008

Xbox 360 - Turok

Turok by Touchstone

A long time ago, well not really that long, but for technology it's a long time... I played Turok on N64. That game was superb (at the time). Note, I'd write a review on it here, but it's kind of not relevent. I digress. Anyway, I was anxious to see a new Turok for the Xbox 360 and preordered it. I picked it up the day it was released, but I hadn't had time to sit down and actually review it until now. Better late...

Style: First person shooter
Online Capabilities: Untested


Turok (and company) are stranded on a planet with Dinosaurs (and bad guys). So, it's pretty obvious what you need to do. The subtext is that you get stranded there because the ship crashes. So, you must look for survivors and things from the crash while avoiding the dinosaurs and bad guys. There's plenty of in-game cinematics to explain what's going on. The gaming problem, though, is that it just seems to take forever to get from point A to point B (lots of subchapters to get there). The story, overall, was contrived, trite and already been done before. You really didn't care about the characters and the bosses were just thrown in, not as a story element that actually makes any sense, but because they could. The game was overly hard, but without any real reason to be.


The one thing I will say about this game is that the graphics are amazing. They are equally as amazing as Halo 3 or Uncharted (PS3). But, as with many games, sometimes the fluid and excellent high res graphics are about the extent of it. Not so much in Turok.

The environments are lush, the jungles are teaming with plants (probably too many actually). The interiors are as equally well done. Turok's animated movements are quite well done as well. The only real problem is the skin tone, skin surface maps and skin colorings. They seem a bit too video gamey. I would have prefered a more realistic approach to the skin textures. However, I can overlook this if the gameplay works well.


The Gameplay in Turok is reasonably well done, but... (and there's always a but), the controls sometimes lack. Switching between weapons has a lag time that's entirely unbearable. So, if you're in a crunch and you need your knife now, you end up fumbling trying to get to it. So, Turok ends up dying and you restart the level. Picking up weapons is equally annoying. When you walk over a weapon that you want, it pops up a graphic asking which slot you want the weapon in (using the X or Y button). This means you need to remember which weapon is in which slot or you have to review your weapon slots first. I guess they were trying to be flexible, but again, in a crunch you really can't worry about what's what.


Unfortunately, the game creators chose to use checkpoints as saving places. The problem, however, isn't that it has checkpoints, it that the game doesn't have nearly enough of them. So, you end up restarting levels over and over and over. This is extremely frustrating. I've been trying to get through this game as a result, but I just have to keep putting it down because it's so frustrating I want to throw the controller (not a good thing).

Weapon Fumbling

The other issue I have with the weapons is that you'll see an icon that tells you to press the right trigger. You press it and nothing happens. This is what I mean by sluggish. Like, for example, when you get close enough to a dinosaur, this icon will appear and, if the game accepts your input, you'll do a fatality move on the dinosaur. Unfortunately, when this icon appears, it's hit or miss (mostly miss). So, you press the right trigger and you don't do the move and the dinosaur hammers you and Turok falls down or, worse, dies.


The lack of a scanner or some kind of enemy heads up display is extremely frustrating. So, you have no idea what direction a dinosaur or bad guy might come. There are times later into the game that I know the game generates one or more dinosaurs immediately behind you for the purpose of making the game hard. Assuming, however, they were living in a time where they had a craft capable of space travel, then they would damn well have life sign scanners.

Life display

The game designers chose not to give a life meter. Instead, you get this red halo around the screen which turns blurry. Well, unfortunately, while it might be a cool little effect, it's rather unrealistic. If you were simply knocked down, your eyes wouldn't turn blurry with a red halo. You might pass out or get the wind knocked out, but your eyes wouldn't be blurry in that way. The blur only serves to make the game even harder. Worse, when the blur appears, the game won't allow you to focus on or aim at the creatures around you. So, it just ends up a field day for them. Basically, Turok is going to die unless you can manage to get far enough away to get Turok's health back. Turok regenerates health over time, but it takes a few seconds to start. As with most other FPS games, I'd much rather have to go search for health packs than deal with this Turok system. Unfortunately, there are no health pickups or anything you can carry with you. You just have to wait it out for Turok's health to regenerate.


As Turok progresses, he can get more and more types of weapons to use. I have personally found that the most effective weapon against the dinosaurs (when it works) is the knife. It can kill them with one move versus the guns that eat up much ammo. For the bad guys, the guns are really the only way unless you can sneak up on them. The sniper rifle is especially handy for long distance shots. It works well on dinosaurs too, but they move around too much and it's hard to take aim.


The audio and music of this game are well done. The musical themes are very cinematic and were very much in keeping with the mood being presented. I just found that the music was a bit repetitive in places. They could have varied the scores a bit more to keep it from repeating too much.

Game Design

The designers were not thinking of the gamer when they designed this game. Because of the checkpoint system and the lack of save points, you are forever starting over levels. Basically, this is the style of game where you progress a little at a time, but the main character dies over and over until you finally figure out the trick to the level.

Note to game designers, you should use Turok as the prime example of what not to do when creating a game. The when Turok dies, it takes up to 15-30 seconds for the level to reload. This is absolutely ridiculous. The level is already in memory, so they should just need rewind and restart it. This should take about 3 seconds at most. Taking 30 seconds or so is just a time waster. It interrupts the playing and it interrupts your train of strategy.

Also note that as the game progresses, the absurdity of the level difficulty increases. For example, in order to blow the generator (trite story element, BTW), you have avoid being spit acid on by flying bugs. I mean, come on. Why would there be flying bugs right at this moment in time? Also, these bugs have absolutely perfect aim. There is just no way that these stupid flying dinosaurish bugs have this perfect of acid spray aim. This is the absurdity that makes this game not anything like Turok on the N64. The N64 had room puzzles combined with dinosaur hunting. There was more to it than just being hunted continuously.


I enjoyed playing this game for the story (to a point), but it was nowhere near as fun as the N64 version. I wish they had attempted to recapture the fun of the N64 version with an updated play style, but with more puzzles. This game didn't capture that element and the lack of checkpoints made the game far too frustrating. If you like games containing few checkpoints (you find that challenging), then you might want to check out Turok. Otherwise, skip it. There are far better first person shooters available.


  • Graphics: 9/10 (only because nothing is perfect)
  • Sound: 9/10
  • Controls: 5/10 (sluggish, difficult to change weapons)
  • Bang-2-Buck: 7/10 (it'll keep you playing for a while, but frustrating because of lack of checkpoints)
  • Replay value: 1/10 (Definitely won't play it again)
  • Overall: 6/10 (good, but could be better, loading times unbearable, not enough checkpoints)

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