Thursday, January 24, 2008

Turok demo impressions

Eventually, they'll get around to ruining all of our childhood memories, but at least Turok: Dinosaur Hunter has the advantage of not being something anybody remembers too fondly. It was pretty well reviewed at the time, but especially in retrospect it's a shining example of what not to do in a first-person shooter. Much of the gameplay was based on platform-style jumping sequences, for which the controls were simply not up to the task. The player was also encased in fog, with a draw distance of about ten relative feet, with environmental objects jumping into view right in front of you. Overall, I preferred Doom 64, which wasn't as technologically advanced, but at least had the benefit of good level design and lightning-fast gameplay. When I played Turok, what I most liked to do was input the code to unlock all weapons, and then fire the nuclear-powered arrows in order to ogle the particle effects.

So I'm not really sure why I downloaded the Turok demo, except that I was home and nothing much else was happening. It seems as though the developers have scratched some of the more mystical Native American aspects of past games and put you in the shoes of "Joe Turok," a special forces soldier who, in pursuit of his rogue former commanding officer, crash-lands on an alien planet and finklghhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Sorry. Fell asleep on the keyboard, there. Almost immediately, Turok does several uninteresting things. Besides that cookie-cutter premise, you're also saddled with computer-controlled allies -- one of whom seems like a dick! Whoa! And you can dual-wield! Dual-whoa!

The demo begins in a drab cave. After dispatching some raptors, you move outside into a drab forest. Not much is interesting about fighting the dinosaurs, with the annoying exception that they can knock you over, which was an idea first conceived and rejected in the making of the original Quake. The dinos can also leap on top of you, but you can get stabby on them by hammering buttons really fast. Just which button changes each time, to keep you on your toes.

Then there's the "stealth" portion of the game. If Joe Turok can sneak up on a human enemy, he can quickly dispatch them -- again, stabbily -- by hitting the R2 button. It's an all right way to do things, and certainly not enough to hang a whole game on, but since this is apparently optional to completing the game it's not worth getting too worked up about. The problem I had was that the game gives you no indication as to how visible you are. I was crouched in some tall grass, and assumed that I was adequately camouflaged. I assumed wrong, as I found out when somebody far away started shooting at me. Whoops. Clearly, Joe Turok is not one with the earth.

Or with the hostile alien planet that's without precedent in the annals of games, I should say. I mean, really: dinosaurs, people! That's how you know this game's different.

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