Review: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter HD
I think we can all agree that dinosaurs are neglected as an enemy in gaming. We’ve taken on other humans, we’ve fought aliens and robots, and we’ve killed zombies so often that the word ‘zombie’ is now videogame shorthand for ‘insert generic enemy here’. But there are not enough games where we fight prehistoric lizards, and Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter sought to change that. That’s why I was excited when I found out that Night Dive Studios was going to remaster Iguana Entertainment’s original game, I was actually pretty excited.
Now, as remasters go, Turok is not one of those complete overhauls. Instead, it’s a classic game that’s been polished up and given updated controls for the modern age. It’s actually a pretty good idea on their part, considering many total conversion remakes end of going in a direction that fans don’t like as much, and it’s a ton of work to rebuild a game from the ground up. Turok still looks really dated, but it plays really smoothly, and so they’ve taken care of the most important concern.
As far as I can tell, Night Dive hasn’t actually changed around the structure of the game, and so you have most of the typical aspects of classic shooters: Health pickups, ten weapons, no cover fire, etc. So if you’ve grown attached to all the changes to the first person shooter format that have been made in the past 10 or so years, you might need to adjust. Classic shooters are actually a lot more fast-paced because of the lack of a cover system, and Turok is no exception. You dash around as quickly as you can, firing rounds at your enemies and moving away from them as quickly as you can. Turok drops you in the action pretty quickly (another feature of classic shooters) and you just set about murdering bounty hunters and later encountering velociraptors and other dinosaurs.
After the first level you end up in the world hub, and you have the ability to move between worlds via warp gate and pick which level you want to play. There are 8 worlds, making Turok kind of small in terms of content, but you have to explore each world thoroughly and find the hidden pieces of an ancient relic in order to progress, which tends to stretch the playing time. Who you are, why you’re assembling a relic, and what you plan to do with it are actually things that aren’t revealed throughout the game. See, classic games typically didn’t have cutscenes or story sections because they would just write whatever the story was in the game manual or in strategy guides. But the bottom line is that you’re going around levels collecting bits of a thing. I actually kind of minded this, because it meant that there was going to be some backtracking, but on the flipside it encourages you to really explore each level. There’s very little by way of a minimap or an indicator of objectives, so you have to work out where you go next on the fly.
Speaking of levels, Turok’s levels are big, sprawling affairs. You’ll find yourself in ancient ruins, jungles, and underwater, and even though the visuals are dated there’s a lot to take in and quite a bit of variety. The levels are functional as well, as several sections present jumping puzzles I’m past the point of shame right now so I’ll keep beating a dead horse by pointing out that, like classic shooters, Turok is much more colorful than its modern brothers.
As for the actual shooting action, as I mentioned, it’s pretty typical run and gun. Turok features a nice array of weapons, starting with basics like pistols and shotguns and moving to more exotic offerings like energy weapons later in the game when you fight aliens and other monsters. In terms of enemies, Turok actually has quite an array of both melee and ranged enemies throughout the game, and you typically have to juggle 3 or 4 of them at a time. On Normal mode the game is pretty easy to get through, so players looking for a challenge will want to upgrade to Hard mode.
Overall, Turok is a great classic that Night Dive Studios managed to revive by tweaking its elements and making it easier to play on a modern PC, and shooter fans should definitely check it out.
Turok was reviewed using an PC copy of the game provided by Iguana Entertainment and Night Dive Studios. The game was tested on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. The original game was released in 1994 on the Nintendo 64. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• Classic shooter gameplay
• Unique and colorful levels
• Variety of weapons
• Controls have been updated for modern gamers
• Backtracking is required for some item
• Game is somewhat short overall
• Early enemies can be somewhat repetitive