Title  : Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion
Platforms  : Nintendo 64
Publisher  : Acclaim
ESRB Rating  : Mature
Game Rating  : 6.7
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Turok was the first Nintendo 64 first-person shooter, and set the standard for the genre on that system. The sequel had fancier graphics, but some major game flaws that kept it from surpassing the original. 

Acclaim went back to the drawing board and corrected those errors for Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion. But it's no longer its predecessor's success that Turok 3 must surpass. Nintendo's Perfect Dark set a new standard earlier this year that Turok 3, or any other game, would find almost impossible to match. 

In Turok 3, players explore a futuristic Earth and primal Lost Land as one of two characters, each with unique strengths and access to different areas. Unlike Perfect Dark's high-tech, goal-oriented gameplay, Turok takes a more direct, more violent approach. Using a mix of primitive and technological weaponry, players will kill soldiers, wraiths, dinosaurs, and mechanical monsters. There are no melodramatic deaths or green blood: enemies die in bloody explosions, with body parts missing. 

Gameplay is very straightforward. The game offers objectives which players would be pursuing anyway, such as moving from point A to B or defeating certain enemies. The lack of an automapping feature is compensated by the fairly direct level layouts. Most levels end with large bosses, which range from the difficult to the laughingly easy. 

Commonplace foot soldiers provide more frustrating encounters. Enemy AI needs work that it isn't going to get. Soldiers run in circles, charge Turok without drawing their weapons, or just stand there. They'll fall from amazing heights — and land on their feet — to launch unfair, unexpected attacks. They snipe from far-away cliffs or occasionally right through walls, making it possible for Turok to die having never seen the face of his assailant. Also, this game puts to rest the myth of "friendly fire" — all humans, including scientists and local police, have it out for Turok. 

The multiplayer mode is often more satisfying, but only in comparison with the solo missions. With more modes of play, more levels, and many more advanced options (you can adjust the gravity, among other things) than Perfect Dark, Turok 3 should be king of the hill — but it's not. With fewer weapons, more cramped quarters, and, again, dumber AI, multiplayer aficionados will give Turok 3 an A+ for effort, but return to Perfect Dark for their competitions. 

Graphically, Turok is best played with the RAM Expansion Pak and in letterbox format, which produces the crispest, smoothest graphics possible. The jungle atmosphere is created using beautiful waterfalls and dark caves. Washed-out graphics can make it hard to distinguish an enemy, but the targeting crosshair helps pick them out. When an enemy is shot, his stride is broken, tripping and falling into a bloody heap which is quickly carried off to heaven; no remaining corpses here, though Turok's weapons tend to get a bit messy. 

Turok 3 is a decent game. It takes the series' original concept and adds plenty of features and enhancements. Meanwhile, the rest of the market has been making its own advancements, and Turok 3 falls a bit behind. It's not just a matter of quantity of features, which Turok 3 has, but quality and finesse, which are in better supply in Perfect Dark. 


This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 02-Oct-00