Bargain Bin Reviews: Turok

It’s The Pletteau’s favourite video game related feature: The Bargain Bin Review!

Here’s how it works: I dredge the depths of video game stores / Steam looking for cheap games in the $1-$20 range. Games that were once $50-70 and were either very bad or have been out for a long time. I then review said title, taking into account the quality of game and its price. I pass this information on to you and we are both richer for it.


To be honest, I really don’t know the demographic of my readership, specifically in terms of age. I grew up in a golden era of console video gaming, and among some of the greatest games of all time stand Turok 1 and 2 for the N64. Dinosaur Hunter really set the bar for the series; there wasn’t a huge plot and you were basically fighting dudes and dinosarus. Seeds of Evil ramped things up a bit and made it a bit more complex, but the idea was the same.

Turok, released in 2008 (developed by Propaganda Games and published by Touchstone Interactive),  is a sort of reboot of the game series. The original games were of course based on a comic book of the same name, centered on a Native American… dinosaur hunter. Turok is a real badass in all three games and hunting dinos is what he does best.

I found Turok at a supermarket for around $10; I couldn’t resist. This was some time ago and it sat on my video game shelf, still sealed, untouched. I picked it up and gave it a whirl. I was hopeful it would be great (having read reviews it was mediocre) and that I’d have a great time. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The plot of the game is that you’re after a warlord of sorts named Kane (voiced by the awesome Powers Boothe); you join up with a group of people set to take him out. The catch is that you used to be part of Kane’s unit; he picked you up as a criminal and taught you the ways of a cold-blooded merc, eventually giving you a bow to use as a stealth weapon. The game explains this through various flashback cutscenes throughout the game, which tends to interrupt the flow of the actual plot. In any event, the spaceship you’re on is shot down over a planet and you crash land. So it begins.

To avoid spoiling things, I’ll address the first bit of the game (also because I stopped playing…). The game drags you through a spaceship, teaching you how to crouch and run and climb ladders and stuff. It feels like you’re on board the S.S. Cliche, until the spaceship is hit as you’re being handed a gun, presumably at the typical gun-range scene that most games feel obliged to have. That’s nice. What isn’t nice is that you spend the next ten minutes running around a randomly exploding ship; every ten feet you meet a new dude who says “hey, come with me if you want to live!”, who then gets exploded by some randomly exploding compartment. It gets old fast; what’s worse is that once you crashland, you run into more and more redshirts. No matter what happens, these fools come around dick swinging only to get clawed to death by a velociraptor. The only exception to this is noted badass Slade (voiced by Ron Pearlman) who like most allies in stock shooter games comes equipped with unlimited ammo, infinte health, and a bad attitude.

The game’s aiming and aim assist are also pretty brutal. You spend most of the time trying to hit guys and missing, and hitting guys when your crosshair is on the otherside of the screen. Nearly every generic merc comes equipped with a SMG as well as Stormtrooper-grade helmets, so you only ever die when you act the fool. Any enemy can be defeated by crouching behind a convenient rock and shooting. They also have the AI of a guard from Goldeneye, so you can start a fight with these guys, run around a corner, and they’ll lose you. Their sheer stupidity becomes incredibly frustrating. Your weapon selection, while of a decent size, really doesn’t change things because your tactics can never change because of how dumb your enemy is. Your bow, a Turok standby, is only useful in long-range stealth combat, which might make you feel like a thug, but because you have no way of detecting your enemy besides vision, and because it’s a first person shooter with no stealth abilities (save for crouch, which sometimes makes you nearly invisible), stealth becomes hard to ever be certain of. You can impale enemies to the wall with it, which is incredibly cool and something I expect from a Turok game. Thanks, Propaganda!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the knife. The knife is possibly the only redeeming quality (aside from Misters Boothe and Pearlman) of this game. You are just a machine with that knife. If a dino gets up in your grill, you can whip it out and destroy it in a cutscene. You can sneak up on a raptor and stab it in the eye. In this respect, the game is incredibly gory and awesome. If this game were DinoSneak 2012: The Stabbening, I would never stop playing it. Stabbing dinosaurs is absolutely the greatest thing ever invented by a human being and one day soon I hope to become a dinosaur stabber. You can fight off a hoard of dinos with just your knife; it’s awesome. The timing unfortunately isn’t absolutely spot on and things get ruined when mercs run in, firing away while you’re trying to shiv a T-Rex.

Turok is an OK game. I stopped playing after a few hours and don’t intend to pick  it up. It has a host of problems, including poor AI, bad level design, decent graphics, linear progression, and a blandness that would make Call of Duty look innovative. The game ultimately feels like a stock shooter made by a publisher you’ve never heard of, plus dinosaurs. I am personally of the belief that dinosaurs can improve anything; as a child, my two loves were paleontology and astronomy. Clearly, as dinosaur planets are out there waiting to be colonized, it isn’t too late for me to specialize in both, but in the meantime a dinosaur fighting sim is something I need. Turok isn’t it. I can’t speak to the multiplayer because I didn’t play it because the game really didn’t grab me, which is a damn shame. Turok 2, by the way, was planned but is currently a no-go due to 70 or so layoffs down at Propaganda.

What do you think? Did you like or hate Turok? Have you already pre-ordered DinoSneak2012? Drop me a line below or via e-mail.

Want to write a Bargain Bin Review? Shoot me an e-mail and we’ll talk.
Have a suggestion for a good Bargain Bin Review? Leave a comment — if you can link to the product, do it up.


One Comment on “Bargain Bin Reviews: Turok”

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