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Turok: Evolution

Developer: Acclaim | Publisher: Acclaim
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 08/31/02 | Genre: FPS

Turok: Evolution is the prequel in a series known for technologically-advanced dinosaur battles. It brings the same armored reptilian annihilation as the previous three Nintendo 64 titles. Gamers looking to increase their first-person shooter library won't be adding anything incredibly new besides some cool aerial pterodactyl-flying combat should they decide to invest in this game. But what Acclaim's new title offers is good, and fans of the series will be proud to enter this into the family.

The story starts you off as Tal'Set, an Indian warrior-leader of the Saquin nation. He and his deadly enemy Captain Bruckner are set to battle when a mysterious event sucks them into a new world. Rescued by natives of this Lost Land, Tal'Set learns from the prophet Tarkeen that he is the legendary Son of Stone, Turok. His calling is to battle the heinous reptilian Sleg and their lord, Lord Tyrannus (Buckner is tucked in there somewhere). Though the story isn't mind-boggling, it is interesting and isn't the main reason people buy first-person shooters anyways. Really, it just serves to justify why you're allowed to be legally carrying an impressive arsenal of weapons and help dinosaurs on their way to extinction. No need for animal rights activists to step in because this is his destiny. What choice does the guy have?

Tal'Set doesn't come with the typical Indian weaponry of a simple hatchet and bow and arrow�well, he does, but he gets a lot more stuff too. He is one �armed to the teeth� Indian warrior with an arsenal of sniper guns, grenades, shotguns, and a futuristic spider mine, plasma cannon, and antigrav beam. Most weapons come with additional upgrades which allow them different methods of dishing out harmful projectiles. There isn't any armor, at least in single player, to protect yourself, but small and large med kits are floating around to keep you fighting. Key to survival is to look around. Hidden ledges and bushes conceal many valuable items.

The AI, which is primarily Sleg troops with the occasional T-rex and raptor thrown in for kicks, are randomly frustrating. Sometimes they are smart: dodging, hiding behind cover, and flanking you. But other times they just crouch in the open, seemingly waiting for you to take their heads off. Often times if you shoot an enemy, they will drop their weapon and cower before you until you mercifully end their miserable lives. Enemies sometimes seem to have ESP, knowing exactly where you are and hit you the minute you turn a corner. Others couldn't hit the broadside of a barn.

The world you are thrown in and are destined to save is full of lush forestry and blue water. There are a variety of creatures roaming the planet from dinosaurs to tribal natives to dancing monkeys- that's right dancing monkeys. While they are there for looks, attacking some will set off a violent reaction, which could possibly result in your death. Blood spurts everywhere when you shoot off an arm, head, or leg of a Sleg troop. Though it isn't the most convincing blood-effect every seen, it just makes you hungry for more. Sniper-mode transitions are smooth and well-done, and the frame rate moves without a hitch. Loading times are acceptable. The game is only saved after reaching checkpoints, so you will find yourself have to repeat sections that tend to get lengthy and tough.

Ever dreamed of flying a pterodactyl armed with twin .50 caliber machine guns and homing rockets? Who hasn't?! The newest addition to the series is flying and, while this may sound like a last minute thing, Acclaim does a surprisingly wonderful job. Zipping around on your prehistoric airplane is enjoyable. Again, animation of your bird and other airborne animals is flawless, with the only complaint being mumbled flight instructions.

Music tracks are the similar tribal tunes that have accompanied other Turok titles, and the grunts and cries of pain are nothing out of the ordinary. But without them, of course, killing would be a lot less enjoyable.

Naturally no first-person shooter is complete without a multiplayer mode. Turok: Evolution is packed with 14 unique areas to wage war in such as a train yard, a mysterious temple, and a fortified base. You can whoop up on your friends in straight up deathmatch, hunter (where one guys is the unlucky target), a variation of capture the flag called one flag, a violent game of tag in monkey tag, and a sniper-favored headshots only match. You can also take to the air in pterodactyl warfare. Each match can be designed specifically to your needs, right down to how many weapons and powerups you want available. Players are able to choose from a good sized list of characters they want to use to kill their friends.

Replaying the game is fun, especially once you've gotten in some practice and can move Tal'Set like a graceful gazelle armed with a big gun. But there aren't too many secrets, no unlockables, and, while the game is already difficult, there aren't any different difficulty settings. So once you've beaten it, there aren't any new challenges the next time around. But people have been replaying Halo, so why not Turok: Evolution.

Overall, Turok: Evolution isn't anything brand-spanking new, but it is a worthy prequel to the series and a solid addition to a limited library of available quality shooters. A goofy AI doesn't help, but it doesn't necessarily distract from the fun of killing technologically-advanced dinosaurs. Having a death fest with your friends can take on a number of forms in the multiplayer mode. Fans of the series won't find anything incredible new aside from flying pterodactyls, and that is a good thing. Newcomers, provided they don't get to frustrating at the difficulty of the game, will enjoy Acclaim's Turok: Evolution.

By Peter Humpton - 09/18/02
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Violence
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