Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD


Harkening back to an era in which first-person shooters weren’t even referred to as such, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a remake that’s true to the original in every way that matters. This is, then going to be a review of the original just as much as it’s going to be a review of the remake, and I have to warn you right away that the game doesn’t fare all that good compared to its spiritual lineage we play nowadays. Make no mistake, I’m as much of a fan of Turok as the next gamer is, but sometimes we have to accept that even a remake can’t really help when gameplay mechanics simply advance too far for the source material to properly follow.


Exploding lizards. What’s not to love.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a game about killing assorted alien invaders, dinosaurs and human commandos with all kinds of interesting armaments, all the while navigating the fascinatingly large (for 1997) levels the game renders around the titular hero. The story is… hm, well, I guess we could say that it’s minimal, but that doesn’t really encapsulate the miniscule effort the developers have placed in the story of Turok. Here’s the rundown of the key elements, though: the protagonist is a terrifying native American who is on a quest to decimate the overall population of the plane of existence the game takes place in, and save the universe along the way. There’s an immensely powerful weapon involved, an evil overlord who wants to use it and, well, it’s almost completely inconsequential. Turok doesn’t worry about its setting, lore or plot, so why should we? Upon starting the game, you get plopped down in the middle of a jungle (?) and have to make your way across the hub world to collect the key fragments to advance to the next level. And do so several times over before the game ends – that’s literally all there is to it.

There are several important changes to the gameplay formula introduced by Night Dive Studios, all of which are important in bringing Turok closer to the modern FPS standard than it was a decade and a half ago. Firstly, the aiming mechanics have been updated and are now finally in line with what one would expect from one such game. In case you don’t remember, Turok originated on N64, and the consolitis influenced the game heavily once it released on PC several months later. Aiming was especially erroneous due to its origins. Movement has received a buff of sorts as well, with Turok now being faster and more precise, even though the head-bob is painfully bad when strafing. The platforming sections are finally bearable now, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter feels like a game it was supposed to be back in the day.


To say that the game’s testosterone levels are high would be an understatement.

On the topic of graphics – the screenshots will tell you more than I ever could: Turok looks awful for a remaster, especially if you want to compare it to the updates some of the older Serious Sam games received. The increased draw distance did wonders though, I have to admit, but also brought the stupendously retarded AI into spotlight, which is an obvious downside. The melee berserkers, for example, repeatedly run in circles while not engaged, which makes it all the more awkward when you break them out of their whirlwind-induced trance with a bullet to the head. Speaking of bullets, most of the weapons lack any discernible oomph when it comes to taking down baddies, which you may recognize as a bad thing in terms of keeping a game fun. Funny thing, I always remembered the weapons of Turok as insanely awesome, but they feel like pushovers in this iteration. I also found myself enjoying the platforming sequences which I remember hating while playing the original.

The level design is especially highlighted in this build of the game, courtesy of the doubled draw distance featured in the remaster; I’m not sure whether this is for better or worse, really, because while the levels themselves sometimes do look rather impressive, they’re also almost completely nonsensical in their layout and presentation, which makes the experience more disjointed than I remember it being. It’s still somewhat fun, though, which is nice.

The gameplay remains virtually identical to its initial release, aside from the changes I mentioned earlier, but Turok is still, thankfully, a fun game to spend some time with. I can hardly imagine why someone would want to play it for anything other than nostalgia factor or a potential history lesson, but it’s refreshing to see that it still packs a punch… at times. Generally speaking, the more firepower you pack and the more enemies you face, the better the game is. Even though the engine clearly limits it from rendering too many foes on-screen at the same time, Turok pushes as far as it can to illicit a reaction from the player, and it’s mostly successful in doing so.

Strangely enough, I’ve experienced several stupid framerate drops as I played through the game, which makes me think it’s not been optimized all that well for the re-release. Seriously, the machine I use to play most of my library on medium to high settings has been having issues with Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Immediately afterwards, I spent some time playing Dying Light without a care in the world, which assured me that the problem lies in the code I’ve been given to review. Though, the problems stopped as soon as I turned off some of the newly added graphical effects, and they make for a minimal difference in visual fidelity (ha!). My tower, as expected, hasn’t had any problems running Turok at any setting, but then again, I’m wondering why is it that I had to test the performance of this title when my hardware clearly outperforms the game’s progenitor platform.

In conclusion, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a solid remaster and a wonderful window into an age long-passed, but a pretty bad game by any modern standard. Having said that, I can’t help but look forward to Night Dive Studios’ upcoming remaster of Turok 2, so here’s hoping they manage to keep the magic of the game intact.