Turok in Gaming: a History.

Turok Week continues! Today, we’re taking a more in-depth look at Turok’s videogame history, and speculating on what might come next.

For most people, Turok stirs up old memories of sitting in front of their Nintendo 64, exploring foggy canyons and ancient ruins and armed to the teeth with crazy weapons, ready to take down the newest threat to The Lost Land. I, too, am among the gamers whose first introduction to Turok was through the original Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I can remember sitting in my friend’s living room, completely blown away that a game like this existed. I had played other first person shooters, but never one in full 3D, and never on a Nintendo console.

But it wasn’t just the the gameplay, it was the setting and atmosphere that really captured my imagination. Best of all, he showed me a comic that came with the game — sparking my interest in the series. Ever since that day, I have been a fan of Turok.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was a good first person shooter back in the N64 era. It essentially plays like DOOM, and while the graphics certainly have not stood the test of time, I actually prefer it in a lot of way to other games with that style of FPS gameplay. Plus, it was great to have a game where you could experience the universe of Valiant Comics’ Turok first-hand.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter spawned two direct sequels, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil and Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion. This is where Acclaim officially took over the Turok franchise, and made sweeping changes to the lore of the franchise.

To Turok 2′s credit, it improves upon the gameplay of Dinosaur Hunter. But Acclaims changes to the universe are pretty dumb, and by the end of Tuork 3, the lost land has become an unfamiliar place with little similarities to the source material. As a fan of the comic series first and foremost, I can’t help but look back on these titles with an air of cynicism. It would’ve been far more acceptable had Acclaim established these games as an alternate universe to the comics, but they played it off as canon, going so far as to retcon the original series. I can’t really forgive them for that, expecially when Turok 3 watered down the gameplay and was only a mediocre game at best.

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

Of the Nintedno 64 trilogy, Tuork: Dinosaur Hunter is really the only game that lives up to the Turok name. They’re all playable games, but you’ll likely find them frustrating and generic by today’s standards.

Turok also had its own answer to Quake 3 with Turok: Rage Wars. It was basically a competitive first person shooter featuring the same Turok-style gameplay and several characters from the Acclaim universe. Nothing to see here, move along.

After the N64 era, Acclaim brought Turok to the next generation with Turok: Evolution for the Xbox, Gamecube, and Playstation 2. Turok: Evolution covers the origin story of the Acclaim universe’s first “Turok,” Tal’Set, and is a prequel to the N64 trilogy. At the time it wasn’t bad gameplay-wise, but  a ridiculous presentation, poor voice acting, crippling difficulty spikes, and downright stupid boss battles hampered the experience. It’s disappointing, as Turok: Evolution was probably the most accurate depiction of the Lost Land in a game, especially in the art direction.

Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion

If you get the wild notion to play Turok: Evolution, be warned: the graphics are ugly, the level design can be poor, and the voice acting and presentation are down right atrocious. On top of that, moments are so infuriatingly difficult that it can be almost impossible to complete the game without cheats. I’d recommend skipping this title.

Now, parallel to all these games were Gameboy and Gameboy Advanced versions of each. The handheld versions share little to nothing in common with their console counterparts, but are equally maligned with poor execution and archaic design. Strangely, the GBA version of Turok: Evolution is a surprisingly decent game. In fact, I’d say it probably the most enjoyable of the handheld Turok games, and probably one of the best of the Acclaim titles.

After Turok: Evolution, the franchise basically died when Acclaim went under in 2004. A few years later, Turok was picked up by Propaganda Games, who rebooted the series in 2008 with Turok. You can check out my full review of the game here, but for those in a hurry, here’s the truncated version: I liked it, despite its flaws. Now, I gave Turok 2 and Turok 3 shit for abandoning their source material, and while the Turok reboot is arguably an even bigger removal from Turok’s roots, it also puts Turok back in the jungle, armed with a bow and knife, and doing what he does best: hunting dinosaurs.

Turok: Evolution

While this new vision of Turok may be missing the charm and history of its roots, it was a fun game, and without a doubt the most well-made entry in the entire videogame franchise. If you find youself without anything to play one weekend, pick it up — maybe even rent it — and have a go. Unless you’re some closed-minded fanboy (and at this point, I think I’ve made it pretty clear I favor the comics and staunchly oppose things that go against those stories) you’ll enjoy the game.

As I said in my review, it’s a shame we’ll never get to see where propaganda was taking Turok next. Some curious fans were able to piece together some of the story details based off concept art for the sequel, including: zombified dinosaurs, savage tribes, a massive desert, and run ins with the hulking “King” — a massive Tyrannosaurus Rex, present only in Turok as a hulking skeleton far larger than anything else you encounter on the planet.

Turok 2008

The concept art for Turok 2 looks gorgeous, and makes me very sad the game will never be completed (for now, at least). In many ways the art of Turok — both the games and comics — is why I love it so much. Hopefully one day we’ll see Turok 2, or even a new series of games that does the Son of Stone justice. Personally, I’d love to see the Assassin’s Creed 3 team get their hands on the Turok licence, but I know that’s not gonna happen any time soon. Until then, I guess I’ll have to sit tight and wait to enjoy Crysis 3.

I know it probably seems like I hate the Turok game series; I don’t. To be fair, each console title were at least decent games when they were released, and many are still fun to play today. My biggest gripe is, as such a fan of the comic series, I really wish that Turok not only had a truly great game, but one that stayed true to the classic Turok lore. At any rate, whether you love the games or have never even tried them, they are at the very least worthy of a fun distraction. And please, read the comics!

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