Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Nintendo 64)

Developer(s) – Iguana Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Entertainment

Designer – David Dienstbier

Producer(s) – Jeff Spangenbreg & Darrin Stubbington

Although this game was heavily slated as being a Doom clone, and with critics drawing inevitable similarities with the likes of Duke Nukem and Quake, there are those who still believe that Turok truly was the game to truly pioneer the 3D first-person shooting genre. This game remains one of my favourite shooters on the Nintendo 64, and for many reasons.

Graphics – 8.5/10

The first of which being is that though the visuals may not have aged well by today’s standards, they were exemplary at the time. Though there are a few glitches, the developers made up for that in the amount of diversity there is in level design and their attention to detail. Perhaps one of the biggest innovations they made in terms of graphical quality was the inclusion of effect such as fog; not only does it add to the omnipotent atmosphere, but it also adds an element of tension, since players will have a few seconds to react due to the limited visibility.

Gameplay – 8/10

Another innovation that Iguana Entertainment made was in terms of gameplay. Unlike any other first person shooter around at the time, including Doom or Quake, the original Turok took place in an open-world environment, allowing players a certain level of freedom in exploration. There are a lot of secrets to uncover throughout, as well as a plethora of enemies, and of course dinosaur-shooting action, to sink their teeth into, and immerse players into the game.

Controls – 7/10

Since at the time, 3D shooters were very much a question of trial and error, at least until the release of Perfect Dark in my opinion, the control scheme of Turok can be pretty awkward. Unlike in most first-person shooters of today, the character is moved using the Nintendo 64’s C-button controls; effectively an additional d-pad on the controller, which was used to adjust camera angles in most other games on the system. The analogue stick, on the other hand, was used to look around. I think in particular, using the C-buttons to move made jumping from one platform to the other, as was required from time to time, unnecessarily complicated. If Iguana Entertainment had just thought of using the analogue stick to move the character around, as Rareware would go on to do with Perfect Dark, then this game could have been ever better than how it turned out.

Lifespan – 4/10

Unfortunately, for an open world 3D shooter, lifespan also seemed to be a case of trial and error, since Turok can only be made to last for about four or five hours tops. Since there were games at the time, which made use of even less space than Turok, with which to have more gameplay substance, I don’t think it would be plausible to try and put that down to reasons such as hardware limitations or lack of memory within the cartridge, but rather that should simply be put down to developer imagination; or lack of it.

Storyline – 6/10

Playing out like most other video games in terms of story, there isn’t much to differentiate it from others. Based on a comic book of the same name, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter follows the story of a Native-American time-travelling warrior named Tal’Set, who was passed down the mantle of Turok, since he was the eldest male of his tribe. As a Turok, Tal’Set is charged with protecting the barrier between Earth and the so-called Lost Land. He must do this by assembling a powerful weapon called the Chronoscepter, and defeating the Campaigner; an overlord, who plans to use the Chronoscepter to break the barrier between Earth and the Lost Land, and rule over both dominions. Judging by the Campaigner’s appearance, intentions, supernatural powers, and his desire to rule over multiple worlds, I can immediately draw similarities between him and Shao Khan from Mortal Kombat; so much so, that it almost sounds like the same story.

Originality – 9/10

Despite the amount of comparisons I can draw with Turok and many other video games, the fact of the matter remains that until this game came along; open worlds in first-person shooters were non-existent, and would not become a standard until many years later, even if I was unable to realize or appreciate such a fact at the time when I was first playing it. Though it has its influences in terms of visuals and story, there was no other game like it, and it remains a cult classic to this day among Nintendo 64 owners; introduced to the series in a time before it would eventually be left into obscurity.

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Overall, the introduction to the Turok series, Dinosaur Hunter, still remains a very enjoyable game, and one I would recommend to anyone wishing to explore past Nintendo game libraries. Though Goldeneye 007 is synonymous with pioneering the 3D first-person shooting genre, there were things in Turok that made it stand out just as much; if not, more so.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

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