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July 23, 2007
E3 2007 - Preview Turok (Xbox 360)

By Jason Van Horn

While many first person shooter fans were cutting their teeth on the Dooms and Quakes of the gaming world, my real first taste of FPS fragging came in the way of the original Turok for the N64. I mean, you're a Native American hunting robots and freaking dinosaurs with a bow! What's not to love about something as badass as that? Sadly, the franchise began to decline as installments moved on, but now a new installment is heading to next-gen systems, and it looks to bring back the loving that made the original such a rewarding experience.

Other than a cutscene here and there during the original game, the character of Turok was pretty much missing in action, as everything unfolded from his eyes, and so you never got to see the man himself. Things are changing with Turok, because now the action gets sometimes too close up (for better and worse). On the better side of things, if you manage to be sneaky enough to silently creep up next to an enemy, there is a cinematic cutscene deathblow that quickly jumps from your point of view to show Turok delivering a lethal throat slash or chest stab. During the preview this didn't happen too much - only really twice at the start of the stage before hell broke out and while I was safely hidden behind tall strands of grass and overgrown plants - but it was satisfying to strike such a sadistic blow against an enemy, and plus the character design of Turok (muscular, scruffy beard, and short Mohawk) was animated really well and was very stylish itself.

On the worse side of things, though immensely more hands-on and frightening, it also leaves you on the side of the prey, fighting for your life as a dinosaur pounces at you with bloodlust in its eyes. Of course, there are going to be dinosaurs in the game, and in this installment they seem to have a mind of their own, as not only did they attack enemy soldiers when the chance permitted, but they would soon turn their attacks on the player as well. The dinosaur attacks were usually the scariest moments of the game, making you jump whenever they bounded at you since they seemingly came from nowhere, and things only got more dangerous the closer you let them get to you. Once a dinosaur (a raptor specifically in this case) got too close, a few times an interactive cutscene/minigame would take place, where the dinosaur's jaws extended, trying to clamp down on your face, and you've quickly got to alternate presses between the left and right triggers to pry it open to let you escape; it was a completely unsuspected moment, which perhaps is why it comes off so well, because you just don't expect QTE like games popping up in your FPS. Still, it was an excellently pulled off moment of action, which helped immerse gamers even more than if the creature would just have attacked and nothing more.

Besides the sneaky dinosaurs, the only other enemy on display were soldiers dressed head to toe in their most covering garb, and these enemies were far from stupid. Though I managed to get two early drops with my knife, as soon as the first spotting occurred and bullets started flying, soon the enemies knew where to go and were on me amazingly quick. I actually had quite a hard time against them, often getting killed more than once, as they knew when to blitz and attack, and yet also knew when to retreat and circle around objects to put them in-between my line of fire. Honestly, it was one of the fiercest battles I've had recently in a FPS, and the constantly roaming dinosaurs didn't help matters either.

The weapons were standard fare for a FPS, besides perhaps the knife and bow, which were used for both the short distance kills and the longer ones. The bow was satisfying in its accuracy and easy targeting, but unless you hit the right spot you're just going to piss someone off and having them coming after you hard. Other weapons included pistols, dual wielding guns, an assault rifle, and a shotgun. Each gun had a main and secondary fire, coming into play in unique ways oftentimes. One secondary fire, for instance, shoots light flares, which will attract any nearby dinosaurs to the source. Of course, if you're a sadistic player, you'll angle that flare right into a group of enemy soldiers, and let dinosaurs get first dibs on the pickings. And yes, we did it, and yes, it worked beautifully. Ah, the carnage!

Levels were gorgeous in their detail, as the jungle rich environment was very organic, featuring blades of grass that almost wanted to stretch all the way up to your head at times, to the lush foliage of the trees and nearby plants. The enemies were also quite detailed, as are you as Turok when the action cuts to those mini-cinematic kills or QTEs.

Though only the single player gameplay was shown off at E3, Turok is set to have both an online cooperative mode as well as several versus modes for all those players out there who hate working together, and instead likes to kill everyone possible that stands in their way. Whether you're playing through the singleplayer story or fragging online, Turok is already looking as if it's going to deliver fully on the promise the franchise once held back in the day.


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