Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a blast to the past that should be enjoyable for fans to revisit, but the outdated graphics and gameplay may be disenchanting to newcomers.
For many gamers, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was the first foray into the world of first-person shooters. Originally premiering on the Nintendo 64, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter preceded other iconic shooter games like Goldeneye, and employed an intriguing combination of historic, modern, and futuristic weaponry to combat a wide variety of enemies, including dinosaurs, cyborgs, and even humvees.
While the reboot to the Turok series fizzled out, with the proposed Turok 2 reboot sequel getting the axe, the lasting popularity of the game that started it all hasn't dwindled over the years. As a result, many gamers have been eager to revisit the iconic title, which has lead to the development team at Night Dive Studios to work on a remastered version of the classic for the PC.
While Turok: Dinosaur Hunter's story involves time travel, portals, and an evil villain's master plan to destroy the world, the story isn't necessary to enjoy Turok. Most of the appeal of Turok comes from exploring prehistoric-looking environments while slaying beasts, dinosaurs, and other humans with a wide variety of weaponry.
Turok for PC is probably just as most gamers remember it, for better or worse. While the developers have improved certain aspects of the title, it's ultimately still an old-school first person shooter with the jagged polygon graphics that were a mainstay of the N64. In any case, gamers shouldn't mistake Turok with a reboot or even a full-fledged HQ remaster. The textures, models, and environments are the same as they always were, and the game has seen very few additions or upgrades. Gamers shouldn't expect any major graphical improvements in this title, and playing through Turok without nostalgia goggles may surprise some at how visually aged the game really is.
However, the developers have been able to make some improvements, courtesy of the advanced processing power of modern computers and their video cards. Playing in a higher resolution is a welcome addition, and draw distance is now much higher than it was on the original N64 version, meaning that gamers no longer stumble around in a fog. This was sometimes a nuisance in the original release, which could often cause a sense of disorientation and an uncertainty as to where to go next without resorting to consulting their map every few minutes.
While this has made it easier to navigate the game, the enemy AI hasn't been upgraded to match. The enemies in the game were originally programmed to only attack the player once the player could see them, to prevent gamers from feeling like they were constantly being jumped by enemies they couldn't detect until it was too late. However, now that the fog has lifted, the player can see an enemy long before they acknowledge the gamer's presence. Combined with the nearly limitless range of almost all the weapons in the game, and this means that gamers can effectively snipe enemies long before they get near enough for them to attack, bringing the difficulty down a notch. Once in range, the enemy AI is relatively straightforward and effective, though there were some occasions where the AI would seemingly break down, resulting in enemies running in circles and refraining from any aggressive actions.
Gamers who played Turok: Dinosaur Hunter back in the day will probably get a kick out of revisiting it, especially with the improved PC controls. While playing Turok with the N64 original controller wasn't too difficult, it was an early Nintendo 64 title, and didn't use the same straight-forward, logical controls of later games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to look around and aim weapons. Turok allows gamers to use either a USB gamepad or their keyboard and mouse, and the controls on both are responsive and easy to use. In addition, the developers now allow gamers to map the keys as they see fit, so gamers can switch up their controls if they prefer.
Understandably, Turok bears much stronger similarities to first person shooters of the 1990s, like Doom and Duke Nukem, rather than modern-day titles like Call of Duty or Borderlands. Players defeat enemies and collect keys to proceed to next level, of which there are eight total in the game. While the levels themselves are fairly simple to get through, some boss battles still have brutal difficulty, which may frustrate modern gamers. Turok lacks the regenerating health and checkpoint systems that most modern titles have, meaning that once a player runs out of health and lives, it's game over and the player is sent back to their last save point (which may be a considerable distance from the actual boss fight).
However, Turok still deserves some praise. The title still holds up in functionality and for allowing the player the freedom to explore, which is even more enticing now that the draw distance has expanded. While the old-school health and lives system may be a bit more punishing than modern titles, and doesn't allow for upgrading or fine-tuning weaponry and gear, gamers still have the opportunity to gather as many lives and bonuses as possible, by collecting triangles and completing hidden bonus areas for buffs.
Nintendo 64 veterans who are looking for a nostalgic blast to the past should definitely check out the remastered version of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter on PC. However, just keep in mind that the title really is almost exactly as it was on the Nintendo 64, and that there aren't any major touch-ups to the visuals or gameplay as with other so-called remastered games. Gamers who've never experienced the old-school variety of first person shooters may also still enjoy Turok - though it's a bit more punishing than modern first person shooters, the availability of cheat codes and a wide arsenal of weapons and enemies should still make an entertaining adventure for gamers who don't mind older, jagged-looking graphics.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is available now for PC. Game Rant was provided a download copy for this review.