Still, at least these bits make Turok feel more like the highly trained, supernaturally talented scout we’d like him to be. Most of the time he moves, turns and aims like a tubby corporate exec on a paintball day out. He gets caught off guard on a regular basis. He seems unable to climb anywhere that isn’t clearly marked for climbing, and attempts at stealth – while encouraged by the game – are almost impossible to pull off. We want a Turok who can master his environment, move with fluid grace and pick off his enemies with guile and cunning, not one who does the same duck and cover routine as every other FPS hero on the planet.
All this stuff I might be able to forgive. What I can’t is the overall lack of fine quality control and polish. Nowhere is this more visible than in the difficulty level – which reaches stratospheric spikes from time to time – the ally AI and the checkpointing. Having a sidekick taunt me is one thing, but having him taunt me when he’s just stood with his back to me while five raptors attack is quite another. The battle against an enormous mechanical spider tank would have been a low point in any game. Imagine being pounded so mercilessly that you’re knocked off your feet every three seconds, making it impossible to reach a desperately needed cache of ammo, only to find that the only way to beat the section is to ignore your instructions, pick up a rocket launcher before the thing even arrives and then run for the rockets before it starts firing. However, what adds insult to injury is the fact that the spider tank battle immediately follows a tricky section featuring several waves of heavily armed troops and a git with a rocket launcher. There’s no checkpoint in between, so every time the spider tank gets you, you get to repeat this all over again. This kind of thing isn’t atypical by any means. Poor checkpointing is a regular issue and the majority of the game’s boss battles are horrendous.
The game is just about saved by the excellent arsenal of weaponry, a handful of set-piece sequences where you get a glimpse of the game Turok might have been, and some fine online features. For a start, the weapon selection makes for a robust and entertaining deathmatch game – now with added dinosaurs. Then you find the co-op mode, where four players can battle against dinos and enemy forces on three dedicated maps. All the same, there are plenty of other games with equally strong – or stronger – online components, and with a better single-player campaign to boot.
Which brings us to the crux of the review. We’ve just enjoyed a golden period of great first-person shooters. Whichever games platform you prefer you can enjoy games of the calibre of Call of Duty 4, The Orange Box, GRAW2, Halo 3, Gears of War, Crysis or The Darkness. In the next few months we’ll see Haze, Battlefield: Bad Company, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 and Far Cry 2. In other words, there simply isn’t room at the moment for a flawed, second-rate shooter, and sadly that’s exactly what Turok is. It’s not a disaster, by any means, but it’s hardly the reboot this once-excellent series deserves.
Less Gears of War, more tooth and claw and we might have had a better Turok game. Wretched difficulty spikes and poor checkpointing outweigh some fine online features and the stronger aspects of a patchy single-player campaign.