Title :Turok Evolution
Platforms :Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation 2, Windows
Publisher :Acclaim
ESRB Rating :Mature
Game Rating :8.1
Review by :Ken Gagne

Evolution: a gradual process in which something changes into a different form. 

Thus Turok Evolution, a game published by Acclaim for all current systems, is not necessarily better than its predecessors — just different. [GameCube version reviewed here] 

Turok is a first-person shooter set in the land time forgot. Our hero, Tal'Set, is a 19th-century Native American who has been pulled into a world teeming with dinosaurs and warring clans. Players guide the unwilling hero to master an assortment of armaments and defeat the merciless monsters. 

Turok's once-natural foes have grown into a more intelligent threat. The dinosaurs and denizens of other Turok games are now accompanied by bipedal lizards equipped with lethal weaponry. This evolution from biological to technological has detracted somewhat from the natural charm of the Turok series: our hero is now less a dinosaur hunter and more a guerrilla. 

The aggressors usually demonstrate some thought in their activity. Individual foes won't attack if they don't have a clear shot, and pairs of soldiers can coordinate their strafing runs. Turok progresses clearly from one level to the next, without any returning to past levels to search for more items. Getting past the enemies in even the first level will be a surprising challenge to Turok veterans. However, the enemies' use of tracer bullets clearly marks their locations, making it easy to snipe them and placing more emphasis on missile attacks than on melee. 

Take missiles in the literal sense, as you'll be firing plenty of them from the back of your airborne pteranodon. As with Star Fox 64, these flying levels are both on rails (directed movement in one direction) and free-range. If not for the on-screen targeting scope, neither the presence of an enemy nor its destruction would likely be noticed. These prehistoric planes have little of the control of their more modern counterparts, and though these levels are an unexpected diversion, one is left to wonder what they're doing in a Turok game? 

Though the pternodons may not handle well, the ground controls are a more complex issue, as there are a limited number of configurations. The setup most similar to the Nintendo 64, on which previous Turok games were played, makes jumping an arduous activity, suggesting players should train themselves to a different layout. 

Almost all the local flora reacts to Tal'Set's movements, with waving fronds and trees that can be chopped down. The environment becomes pixelated and two-dimensional upon close scrutiny, though. He may be free to wander off the beaten path and into the brush, but a two-dimensional wall of vines will halt his progress as sure as any grenade. 

As with all first-person games, Evolution is laden with multiplayer modes. The unlikely rules can include "Capture the Fire", holding a monkey for as long as possible, or aerial dogfights. Most scenarios are intended for teams or large groups, and without the option for computer-controlled opponents, a mere pair of gamers will quickly grow bored. 

Also boring are load times surprisingly interminable for so small a disc; moving between levels or even menus creates a wait of a second or several. 

Between load times, I hoped for this game to eventually evolve into the fantastic experience I was expecting, but was ultimately underwhelmed. Turok is a beautiful and challenging game that doesn't have enough unique qualities to make it stand out. Deathmatches were done better in Perfect Dark, and in some ways, even the first Turok better captured the sense of the Lost Land. Alas, those times are ancient history. 

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This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 16-Sep-02