Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Turok Dinosaur Hunter
Turok Dinosaur Hunter Cover
Platform N64
Genre Pre-Goldeneye Console FPS
MtAMinutes to Action 0
Score 3  Clock score of 3Gameplay: 3
Fun Factor: 3
Gfx/Sound: 4
Story: 0
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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was the first first-person shooter on the Nintendo 64 and the start of a series that is known for its ups and downs. The game is about Turok, a Native American who is sent through time to save the world and is loosely based on a comic book series of the same name. If you think this sounds a little like Prey, and you might not be too far off in some terms (interestingly enough, these games actually started development around the same time, except Turok was released in 1997 and Prey was released in 2006...). Since Turok was released on the Nintendo 64 before Goldeneye 007, there wasn't much to compare it to except for PC shooters, so reviewers at the time absolutely loved it. I can't say I'm quite as much of a fan, however.

A few weeks ago, a new Turok game was released on the PC and newer consoles, simply called Turok. This is the first new game in the series in almost six years, but after a little reading, it appears it has nothing to do with the original games. Maybe that's a good thing, but let's take a look at the first hour of Turok's foray into video games.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select Start Game and the hour begins. Looks like the game is starting already! My first task is to locate the hub ruins and use the keys (sigh) to open level portals. Holy crap the controls are awkward right away.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Fog Knife

01 - The controls are basically reversed from the standard Halo setup we have today. Moving is assigned to the C-Buttons (basically the N64's right joystick) and looking to the left joystick.

02 - I'm having a ton of trouble with these controls, everything is so awkward. And there's a ton of fog! I'm going to take a minute and see if I can configure things.

04 - Well, I think I have found the solution: change the controls to "left-handed." I'm not left-handed, but now I get to use the D-Pad to move and the C-Buttons to look aroun. I head up the first walkway and climb my first ladder. My first enemy is right in front of me, time to die by bow and arrow!

05 - I find the level 2 key and Turok proceeds to eat it or something. Odd animation. Oh man, five more keys to find in this level.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Level 2 Key Eating Drinking

06 - You know what's nice (besides double jump), overlay maps. And this game actually offers one! That's awesome and something you never see anymore. I find a pistol and kill another guy with it. Who are these bad guys and why are they trying to kill me? No answer so far.

07 - There's no aiming reticule and the aiming is really jumpy, making it pretty difficult to figure out what you're shooting at. Woah! A velociraptor just charged me!

08 - One guy just started lobbing grenades at me, jerk. I kill him easily and take his one remaining explosive.

09 - Some idiot jumped me from around a corner with his shotgun. I killed him but only picked up shotgun shells! I watched his body disappear with my favorite first-person shooter weapon!

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Jumping Puzzle Sequence

10 - So after I kill another bad guy, a mysterious blue portal appears and I jump through. Hey, a shotgun! I'm inside a cave now. Oh no, a jumping puzzle! I die right away, but the game just zaps me back to the cave opening. Not bad. Then I die on the second jump. Then the first again.

12 - The game decides to be funny and place a guy tossing grenades at me in the middle of my jumping concentration. CRAP! I FELL!

14 - For whatever reason, it is so hard to determine distance while jumping, not to mention the controls are really sensitive.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Insane Jumping Overlay Map

15 - Lots of nasty clipping and seeing through walls going on. Wow, I made it through. And the game dumps me off exactly where I went through the portal. All this for a shotgun?

17 - You know, if you turn on the overlay map, you get an aiming reticule represented by where Turok's body is located on the map. Unintentional I think, but helpful none the less. Wow, a checkpoint! They had those back then?

18 - While running around I'm also collecting these orange triangles, no idea what they're for. Maybe an extra life at 100? I think the game wants me to jump through the air and collect a floating rifle. Nah. A raptor goes down in two shotgun shells in front of me.

20 - Woah, then I kill another raptor and one materializes in front of me in a shaft of white light. What the heck?

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Shotgun Raptors White Light Blood

21 - Oh man, another jumping puzzle. One of these jumps involves me jumping like four feet forward and four feet up, this is one crazy Native American.

23 - Dang, I fell in the water below. I can still run around down here though. No idea how to get up... Oh, there's a different wall texture that I can climb, thanks game, you're so obvious sometimes!

26 - I finally make it through this jumping sequence and reach a checkpoint. Oh man, I make it to the top of a wall (after much Turok grunting) and I encounter a giant beast neither man nor dinosaur! Thankfully though, the game gives me some Tek-Arrows, and I fire them into the monster's stomach. He goes down in three exploding bolts.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Purlin Huge Bad Guy

28 - After killing a man and a raptor, I see another blue portal. As I'm running towards it, the portal just ups and disappears! Argh! Then to add insult to injury a raptor materializes!

29 - Yay... more jumping. Have I mentioned that the fog is absolutely atrocious in this game?

30 - I reach a save point, but since I don't have one of those N64 Memory Card Paks I can't save my game! Oh man, this time I fell and actually lost a life. Now I only have one left. This could suck. I was resurrected at the save point though and Turok spun around in crazy ragdoll fashion as he floated back to earth. Then he shouted, "I am Turok!" Pretty funny actually.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Ragdoll Resurrection

32 - Oh my... a jumping puzzle with lava. I hate myself. I fall in but luckily Turok just loses a few health instead of dying like most crappy video game heroes would. Sometimes the platforms you need to jump on disappear from the overlay map mid-jump, making it really difficult to land them. Seriously, this game is out to get me.

34 - Ha, I just killed a raptor and he sputtered around on the ground in pain. I'm getting shot and I can't see the guy. I think he's hiding in the fog.

36 - Crap, I just fell down into the water below. And the game is deciding not to fill the overlay map out for me either down here. I'm pretty sure I'm just running in a circle looking for that magical climbing texture.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Climbing Texture

38 - Another one of those golem monsters appears. Jerk. Then I find another key. Four more to go. Double jerk. I enter a cave and some kind of leaper dinosaur attacks me, but he goes down in one shot of my pistol. I'm not even going to bother to shoot at them anymore, they only do two damage.

41 - Haha, I'm about to jump down into a layer of fog, it looks really funny and totally corny.

42 - This is honestly one of the ugliest games I have ever played. A cool thing just happened though, I shotgunned a man in his shoulder and blood started spurting out of there as he stood there and died. Sweet.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Raptor Bad Guy Blood Gore

44 - I have no idea where I am or where I'm supposed to be going right now. I'm basically just in a huge open field with bad guys materializing out of the fog. Oh look, some platforms. I wonder if I'll have to jump on them?

47 - Wow, I made it to the end of this jumping puzzle kind of quickly. Turok sucks at jumping. I hate Turok. Now I'm getting attacked by a horde of giant black beetles. And they're not even killed in one pistol shot. I just ignore them.

49 - Nooo! Another cave with leapers. More enemies to ignore! I enter the first portal I discover some kind of maze of pillars. This is really messed up. Why don't overlay maps work in mazes by the way?

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Leaper Cave Brown

51 - Umm... I just found something called a Chronoscepter piece, probably important but the game isn't going to bother informing me anything else. And then I found a dead end. Hey, I'm on a roll, a Level 3 key!

53 - Well, I escape from the maze and I think I just found a new texture! That puts the count at four.

54 - These bad guys run around like the ground was recently waxed and they're wearing socks. They're slipping all over the place! That doesn't make any sense!

56 - I'm honestly getting sick of playing this game. How did I ever put up with it when I was younger? Hey, an extra life. Not very useful now.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Blue Portal Pistol Map

58 - I can see a portal but I have no idea how to get to it. I think I'm stuck. WHAT THE HECK?! Another blue portal appeared and as I was about to enter it, the stupid thing disappeared! I hate my life.

60 - Time's up! I'm not even going to play the last full minute. Thanks game for screwing me over at the end!

Well, time for some scores out of 10.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Bow And Arrow Cutscene

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 0

Gameplay: 3
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter has not aged well gameplay wise. The controls are completely reversed compared to what we use today and jumping puzzles in first-person shooters hopefully went out of style with the dinosaurs. I can't really fault them for the controls though because that setup feels okay on the N64 controller, but the focus on jumping is pretty inexcusable. Luckily the punishment for falling isn't that bad usually, but I still lost probably 10-15 minutes on just these jumping sequences. The actual combat gameplay is okay, the controls are pretty sensitive (even after turning them down) to make it really fun. The weapons are of standard variety, except for the bow and arrow. Interestingly enough, the game was pretty lenient in hit detection for the bad guys, you could shoot pretty far to the left or right and still kill them in one hit. One last thing, the overlay map was a Godsend, it was typically very useful and filled out as you explored helping you determine what you still need to check out.

Fun Factor: 3
Turok was sub-average fun. Comparing it to a game like Okami though where the first half hour is just text, Turok seems amazing that the game just starts right out without any introduction. Start game becomes shooting raptors within just a minute. This was pretty typical for first-person shooters of the day though. The jumping was extremely frustrating but other than that, I don't have a lot of complaints. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter just didn't do anything that made me smile, other than blood spurting out of that guy's shoulder as he struggled to stand. And that raptor struggling on the ground for his last breaths. Those were pretty cool moments.

Graphics and Sound: 4
Ugh, absolutely atrocious graphics in Turok. I know this was in 1997 on the Nintendo 64, but Mario didn't have a dense layer of fog three feet in front of him! There are literally like five textures in the whole game and they're all butt ugly. Browns and greens seem to be the palette of choice for the art team. The characters are actually okay looking. I think it's a plus when I can immediately tell the difference between a raptor and a man. The sound is pretty good though, there's a light jungle beat playing the entire time and it's in the background enough that it doesn't become obnoxious. There's tons of animal cries playing and the weapons sound moderately correct. I honestly can't fault the sound design much.

Story: 0
There is no story to Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Well, according to Wikipedia, Turok, the time-traveling warrior, must stop The Campaigner, an evil cyborg, from conquering the Lost Land and possibly the universe. They're lucky they didn't include that in the game because I would have given them negative points then.

Overall: 3
This is not the Turok I remember playing over 10 years ago, but times have changed a lot since then and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is definitely a casualty of that change. At least the game doesn't mess around and try to fabricate some insane story (well, it does but it is limited to the instruction booklet). Turok just gets down to business of killing bad men, dinosaurs, deer, and black beetles. This doesn't necessarily make for a good game though as there are way too many problems that greatly outweigh the few neat ideas the game has. Not exactly inspiring me to play the new one. Goodbye to the first hour of Turok, I do not believe we will ever visit each other ever again.

Turok Dinosaur Hunter Comic Cover
Yes, that's Turok standing on a car shooting velociraptors with a bow and arrow.