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November 20, 2002
Turok: Evolution - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
250KBDolby SurroundYesNoNoneNo

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Time to get blasting.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was one of the few games beside Super Mario 64 that made people go out and buy the Nintendo 64. It was fast and furious at a time when dinosaurs were all the rage thanks to a little Spielberg movie called Jurassic Park. The game was an instant success and three sequels soon followed. Unfortunately, these sequels lost sight of the Dinosaur hunting and became more like any other alien infested First Person Shooter. It's time now for the fourth game in the series and as well as a new console the series is taking a new direction, and looks all the better for it. The developers have taken this game back to the roots with an emphasis once again put back on dinosaurs. Even the storyline sounds pretty solid.

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Flying high above the terrain.
In the beginning of the game, we see our hero, Tal'Set, fighting his nemesis Captain Tobias Bruckner in 1886 Texas. During the battle, a rift between their world and the Lost Lands opens and Tal'Set is sucked into it. Tal'Set, injured and near death, is nursed back to health by the natives of the River Village, a colony in hiding from the Lost Land's greatest threat: the Lord Tyrannus and his reptilian hordes. Tal'Set becomes a reluctant participant in the brutal war that is raging in the Lost Land. Bent on a "holy mission" to purify the land through slaughter and misery, Tyrannus appoints a new general to his armies, and Tal'Set discovers to his horror that it is Bruckner, who was also swept into the Lost Lands through the rift. During the game you will discover an epic adventure of treachery, exploration, and war in a land of lush jungles, suspended cities, mysterious temples, reptile armies, and towering dinosaurs.

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The wolves attack in packs.
Beginning with just a war hammer and bow and arrow it isn't long before you start to encounter some dinosaurs eager to make you their morning snack. The first level has no real objectives as such but acts more like a training level so you can get used to moving around and using the weapons. As you progress further into the game the levels become more structured with some puzzle solving elements and strategies required. Do you go in blazing, or hold back and use the sniper weapons to take out the leaders first? Another of the cool features is to use the surroundings to your benefit. In the forests you can knock over trees (with sufficient firepower) to make them land on the enemies.

One twist to the game is the inclusion of flying levels. Hop on the back of a dinosaur and you can then pick off enemies from the skies in a fashion to the old Nintendo classic, Star Fox (or Star Wing as it was known in PAL territories). Unfortunately, while it's a neat idea to include flying sections it doesn't seem to come off right. There is a distinct lack of thrills during these missions and the poor frame rate does little for the targeting.

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The weapon effects are cool.
One of my biggest issues with this title, beside the poor graphics engine, is the load times. These occur part way through levels, including the flying missions which takes you totally out of the gameplay. The enemy AI also seems a little strange. At times it's brilliant with enemies running to cover and calling for help, while at other times they will let you just pick them off from a distance. Another minor disappointment is that although the XBox and Gamecube version include 4-player support the Playstation 2 game only manages 2-player split screen - not a surprise given the struggling graphics engine.

And now we come to the biggest problem with this game, the graphics, and in particular, the frame rate. After playing several other titles running a constant 50 or 60fps coming back to Turok: Evolution is a real shock. Not only does the game run at a mediocre 30fps, but struggles to even do that. Animation also needs a little more work and while the jungle is lush and moody, as well as the deep caves, the texturing could have done with a some improvements. The CG cut scenes deserve special mention and while they aren't as good as Namco or Capcom's CG efforts, they are worth viewing a couple of times.

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One of the many interior levels.
Sound is one of the most pleasing aspects of this title. Using Dolby Surround II this game comes to life with a great range of sound effects from gunfire to wildlife. In fact its the effects from the animals which really makes this game stand out. Even the smallest animals make a noise and will have you searching the forests or caves in fear of another dinosaur nearby. The music also changes pace nicely according to the action on screen from moments of relative peace to heart pounding music.

Apparently the XBox and Gamecube versions of Turok Evolution play a lot better, so if you have those systems you may want to check out Turok: Evolution on those systems. If you only have a Playstation 2 then you're out of luck. The choppy frame rate really hinders the title at times and after looking at TimeSplitters 2 you only wish this game were as polished. Sadly it's not, and as a result can only be recommended to fans of the series. Disappointing.

GRAPHICSThis may have looked good as a first generation title, but not anymore.
SOUNDThe best aspect of this title still falls short of what is expected.
GAMEPLAYThe problem is nothing ever excites, and the graphics soon distract.
VALUEIf you can get past the gameplay issues you will find a lengthy title.
OVERALLTurok: Evolution really is a major disappointment. After all they hype, and hope, this turns out to be a bog standard FPS, and nothing more then ordinary at best. There are plenty of other titles out there that should take preference, unless you're a mad Turok fan.

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