Developer: Iguana Studios, Night Dive Entertainment
Publisher: Night Dive Entertainment
Release Date: December 12th, 2015
Platform: PC [Reviewed]
The Nintendo 64 released September 26, 1996 in North America. It is also one of my favorite mediums of gaming to date. While I am unapologetically an exclusive PC gamer, the Nintendo 64 still has a nostalgic soft spot in my heart. I remember as a child playing through Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and many other titles that are now considered classics. However, there was one game that I had lusted after during that time that was swiftly taken away from me due to the mature rating stamped on the cardboard box. That game was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.
In the first-person ‘mature’ game, you assume the role of Turok, a Native American warrior who can travel through time. Thankfully, 18-years later, Turok has been re-released onto PC with a few modern tweaks. While the game was certainly a feat in 1997, the question still remains: Does our time-traveling warrior actually stand the test of time?
For anyone that has played a first person shooter on the N64, the gameplay of Turok should come as no surprise. You sprint around the massive and often confusing map (more on that later), shooting everything in sight and stopping only for the occasional platforming section. This formula was seen time-and-time again during this era, but still evokes the sense that the developer has the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. There is something endlessly satisfying about running and gunning as fast as possible without any regard with what you should be doing, but only what you want to be doing. Furthermore, the running and gunning is not the only attraction.
Puzzles show their face (although fairly simple) to unlock secret areas and loot grabs, providing a nice distraction in the jungle of madness. Sometimes these puzzles take the shape of platforming sections that don’t hold your hand like some modern games. This challenges you to stop, survey, and gauge just the correct jump distance to land flawlessly.
Revisiting the N64 and comparing it to the graphical capabilities of even the lower end of modern PCs is a clearly biased comparison. With that being said, I was surprised just how good Turok looks even after 18-years. The textures are dull and repetitive compared to modern standards, but nothing stands out as particularly offensive and, given the amount of fun you’ll be having game, often take a backseat. Thankfully, Iguana Studios has added a few graphical features to the game while still maintaining the feel in respects to the original release.
Support for higher resolutions, FXAA, and water and lighting effects provide plenty to make the transition of a nearly two-decade old game completely seamless onto PC. In fact, seamless is the best way to describe the graphical area of this revamped Turok. The game runs buttery smooth, with absolutely no tearing or stutters even when the action picks up. The fact that Iguana was able to port the game to PC so flawlessly is a feat on it’s own and provides the optimal Turok experience. This is quite impressive given the map size of each of the eight levels for you to explore.
There is something endlessly satisfying about running and gunning as fast as possible without any regard with what you should be doing, but only what you want to be doing.
While each map is massive, they still feel recycled. There’s only a few types of areas, like a forest or ancient ruins, within each level, never quite feeling like each has their own identity. The redundancy is to be expected from a game that dates itself back several console generations ago. But, this repetitiveness still presents a minor annoyance.
Through the seemingly similar environments, it can become confusing when nailing down the last bits of a task or puzzle. A large chunk of my time was spent mindlessly wandering around each level trying to find the remaining keys to unlock new levels, often visiting locations I had been to once or twice before. There is a map, accessed via the “Tab” key, that can be overlayed over the display to remedy this sort of issue, but for those of you who are like me and can’t focus on too many things at once, the map is up no help. This certainly isn’t a fault of the developers, but more likely just Turok showing its age.
Of the modern amenities included, the completely remappable keybindings and achievements are my favorite. The new bindings and full controller support are also a welcome addition, especially considering the, let’s call it unique, design of the N64 controller. Most games struggle to make the jump when being ported from such an old platform in terms of controllers, but Iguana and Night Dive paid attention to this detail revealing their attention to detail as developers.
For those of you who have read any of my other reviews, it should come as no surprise that I love my achievements. They are the small goals that keep the game interesting in even the dullest of parts (not that any of Turok is dull). I’m an achievement completionist, and I love just how this often equivocates to more playtime that’s able to be squeezed into a game.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Turok is an incredible title even after 18-years. The game is pure fun and the formula established by N64 shooters still hold ground today. The platforming is difficult, the shooting is reckless (in the best way), and the sense of achievement after completing each task is paramount. Night Dive and Iguana have done an amazing job with the inclusion of features to allow the game to transition without any hiccups to a modern platform while still maintaining the look and feel of the original game.
However, like anything, Turok still has it’s flaws, and there is nothing in the world the developers could have done to correct these flaws without making a completely new game. The map size is fun, but the confusion draw from it is definitely an old issue to become re-accustomed to, and a source of annoyance for those who are new to the game.
For fans of the original game, picking up this face-lift of the jungle ridden classic should be no-brainer. The game is nostalgic and fun, offering hours and hours of dinosaur and warrior hunting that is all too enjoyable to indulge in. For those who are new though, be forewarned about Turok. This game will not hold your hand, and while it isn’t particularly difficult, it doesn’t come with that same linear feel of many modern shooters.
Turok serves as amazing proof that some games are completely timeless, and for only $19.99, is a total steal for the amount of game you’re getting.