I’m going to start this new recurring post and make it a weekly (if not bi-weekly feature) because these past few weeks, I’ve been spending money on games I really have not much intention of playing till completion.
Why did I buy them then?
They were on sale.
Yes, I think I might have an impulse problem.
But hey, look on the bright side. At least you guys will get to know whether the purchases were a good deal or not! It’ll also give me a chance to spotlight gems we might have missed!
So, every time I buy something on sale, I’ll be creating this post.
It’s not a review like I normally do, but more of whether the game’s worth it at the sale price and my impressions on it.
This week’s entry: Turok and Turok 2, which are packaged together for USD$11.99 in the Turok Bundle. It’s on sale right now on the US Xbox store, until next Tuesday.
This bundle is exclusive to the US Xbox store, so there’s no local pricing so if you want to get them, you’ll need to change your settings.
Now I won’t talk about Turok, but just focus on Turok 2 because I have history with the game. Or rather, I had the game when it originally came out for the Nintendo 64.
In fact, it was one of only a handful of N64 games I had back in the day (the others being Shadows of the Empire, Rogue Squadron, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye 64).
A paltry selection to be sure, but hey, I was just in Secondary School back then and N64 carts were nearly $100 a pop at the time. Needless to say, it was a hard time to be a gamer.
My last N64 game.
Turok 2 was special because it was the last N64 game I bought before I moved on to the Dreamcast. I mainly remember it for having one of the best weapons in an FPS game though; the Cerebral Bore.
Imagine a pokeball that homes in on your target’s head. Instead of capturing your target, that pokeball instead drills right into the noggin of your foe.
There’s also the incredibly cool cheat code which I still remember to this day; Bewareoblivionisathand.
It’s cool because it’s not just a throwaway line. It actually references the next Turok game, Shadow of Oblivion, before it was even announced. The fact it’s the ultimate cheat in Turok 2 (giving you everything) also makes it worth remembering.
Anyways, back to Turok 2.
Turok 2 came during an age when the FPS genre was just beginning to gain popularity on consoles. After Goldeneye 64 blew the genre wide open with its 4-player deathmatch capability, the N64 was suddenly the go-to machine if you wanted FPS goodness.
That was due in part to the N64’s power.
Compared to its contemporaries, the original Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn, the N64 was a powerhouse, packing much better graphics. The other systems tried (with Duke Nukem, Quake and Medal of Honor) but neither console managed to break the N64’s grip on the genre.
The analog stick on the controller was also a massive draw for fans, as it allowed smoother and more accurate aiming than using the D-pad or face buttons on an old school PS1 or Sega Saturn pad.
Yep, before analog sticks became standard on controllers, we used the d-pad for movement and the face buttons for looking around.
It was a horrible, horrible time for FPSes.
Dawning of a new age.
Turok 2, riding on the surprise success of the original Turok, came right at the height of FPS fever.
To say that it capitalized on the craze was spot on, but it also brought the console FPS to greater heights. It wasn’t evident at the time, but Turok 2 heralded some pretty innovative features that soon became standard in games.
One of the ways it did that was through it’s animation system.
While archaic by today’s standards, Turok 2’s bad guys actually reacted to where they’re shot. They flinch appropriately if interrupted by a bullet, they stagger if shot while moving…they even had cute little death throes animations that weren’t like anything seen before.
It’s nowhere near as advanced as today’s damage modelling and animations, but back then, it was incredible to see in action. In fact, it’s even impressive now, more than 20 years later though perhaps some of that may be due to nostalgia.
Turok 2’s innovations don’t stop there either.
It also had impressive damage modelling and gore, with heads able to be blown out, limbs shot out and even arrows sticking into enemies’ bodies.
It also had pretty good level design, with stages akin to those found in Metrovanias.
Like the maps seen in the Dark Souls games or Bloodborne, stages frequently doubled back on themselves, opening shortcuts to earlier areas as you explore them.
It made the levels trickier to be sure (especially with the useless in-game maps) but it also made the levels feel immersive, giving you a sense of freedom and exploration that was sorely missing in that era.
Unlike most FPSes back in the day, Turok 2 also allowed you to return to earlier levels.
Coupled with artifacts that you find in the later stages, you can go back to older levels and access new areas with the items/ skills you didn’t have access to the first time around. It was pretty great at the time but in retrospect, the feature was pretty barebones.
Looking back at it now, I wished the developers integrated the power-ups better into the game instead of them being usable at certain specific spots only.
So how does the game stand up after more than 20 years?
Much better than I expected.
With the upgrades (extended draw distance, new visual effects and a stable framerate among other things), Turok 2 finally feels like the game it was meant to be in the beginning.
Whereas the Nintendo 64 version had choppy gameplay (with framerates regularly in the low 20s and high teens), the remaster is silky smooth, which helps a ton with the gameplay.
Turok’s meant to be a run and gun shooter in the vein of Doom and the improved frame rate enhances the original gameplay magnificently. The new visual and gameplay additions (being able to save anywhere is a godsend!) make it the definitive version of the game.
Was it worth it?
For USD$11.99 (around SGD$16.50), you get TWO games, Turok and Turok 2.
I’d pay that for Turok 2 alone. The game’s a great remaster of the original, and there’s pretty much no downside for those who played it when it first came out.
Unlike most games, Turok 2’s gameplay’s is still as good as it was back in 1998. The innovations the game brought on have stood the test of time relatively unscathed, though their basic nature may put off those who weren’t around back then.
It’s definitely a great game from its era, though it’s definite not for everybody.