Name: Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Format: Nintendo 64
BBFC Rating: 15
Although Rare, Nintendo's second party developers, had already got the FPS market sewn up with GoldenEye 007 and the forthcoming Perfect Dark, in 1998, Acclaim decided to resurrect their Turok franchise (a comic book license which was purchased by Acclaim) from it's last use in on of the N64 launch games, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Turok, the hero of the game (aka Joshua Fireseed), is a Native American who lives in a world of big guns, and bigger people to use them on. The first game saw him killing The Campaigner after a frenzied battle. Turok then threw the Chronosceptor (a hugely powerful weapon that he used to defeat the campaigner) into a volcano so that no one could get their hands on it to misuse it. But...
Naturally, as ever in these kind of situations, throwing such a powerful weapon into a volcano has awakened a hugely powerful mother-of-all-evil-masterminds type character named the Primagen. This is, naturally, A Very Bad ThingTM. And, naturally, the Primagen is taking over the world. So, similarly naturally, Turok has to save the world. Those of you who haven't yet fallen asleep are sure to be in the minority.
But seriously, wake up, because Turok 2 isn't that bad. In fact, it's quite good. It's just unfortunate that it happened to be released on the platform which already had an incredible First Person Shooter and was shortly to play host to another.
For people who couldn't stand to wait for the constantly delayed PD, this provided something nice to fill the time with. The game was, as before, centred on a small number of very large levels, in which the player had to not only shoot, maim, and generally mess up the days of a multitude of nasty enemies, but also find keys to the next levels, occasionally fight bosses, and complete mission objectives. Mission objectives? You mean that thing that GoldenEye had? which became really successful, grossing more than the film? Ah. What an interesting coincidence...
Anyway, the game features a central hub area, much like before also, which had gates to access all the levels (like before), but apart from level 1, nothing could be entered because you needed to find the relevant keys (like before) and then put them in the relevant slot to open the gate (like before). Turok would then proceed through miles of foggy (like before) levels. If this is all sounding a bit similar, that's because it was similar, but luckily, it wasn't that bad the first time round.
The Mission objectives added to each level were usually along the lines of "Find the missing children" (who spend all their time crying, until you rescue them, and then they say "Thank you Turok!" in a voice which makes you wish you hadn't. They then teleport away, which leaves the question of why the hell they didn't do that in the first place. Oh well, suspension of disbelief and all....) or "destroy these specific enemies." This generally meant that unlike GoldenEye, it was impossible to fail an objective (you couldn't kill the children) without leaving the level, at which point you were shoved back in to finish what you had started. This was a good thing - if you could have killed the children accidentally, then another three hour trek to find them all wouldn't be at the top of player's "to do" lists. Apart from the level objectives, the levels were largely unstructured - very difficult to work out where you were going, and very difficult to find the right objective / save point / key for the next level etc. Especially since Acclaim's trademark fog made seeing things more than about 15 metres from your character pretty difficult if not impossible.
If you could get past the difficulty in finding what you had to find, and the massive differences between save points, then you could sit back and enjoy what everyone goes to play Turok for - the guns. Turok has had an incredible arsenal ever since his first game, and this improves on it in every way. The weapon select feature is of note - you held down one of the A or B buttons, and this made a transparent "weapon ring" pop up with eight entries, one for each of the compass points, plus four equally spaced between those. You then pushed the N64 control stick in the direction of the one you wanted. Pressing A brought up the first weapon ring (with basics like bow and arrow, pistol, flare gun etc. Pressing B brought up the Big Boy's Toy's ring - the Nuke, Scorpion Rocket Launcher, Razor Wind, and the excellent Cerebral Bore.
The weapons are all completely over the top (even the pistol will make some nice holes in people if you get a few shots off) making it easier than ever to cause some Soldier of Fortune type damage to your enemies. Presumably because the enemies are all either Dinosaurs (extinct already) or genetically altered Dinosoids (they don't even exist), Nintendo, famed for their Nineteen Eight- Four style Thought Police censorship when it comes to violence in video games, let the game pass reasonably easily. And there is plenty of gore. Don't worry, if you want to see nice red blood gushing all over the place, look no further than this. If you must see some humans die, try Body Harvest instead. But then again, humans in BH have cube shaped heads, so it could be argued that they aren't human at all.
Anyway, the game features lots of ways to kill people, through old fashioned hot lead, missiles, grenades, harpoons (only when underwater), arrows, blades (including a cool flying razor sharp disc), but the Cerebral Bore is undoubtedly the King of all that causes Dinosoids to die. It locks on when an enemy is in range automatically, and then you just press the fire button, and watch as a homing drill flies through the air to attach to the victim's head, before boring to the person's brain, and then scooping it all out (it flies into the air) and then exploding the poor person's head. While this is going on, they stand, shake their arms, and look like they are having a fit. If this doesn't sound like the kind of random violence you will enjoy, steer clear - I haven't even mentioned the enemies that program their suit to self destruct after you inflict a certain amount of damage. Oops, just did.
So basically, it's all about the blasting. There are a good number of very large levels to work your way through, some nasty bosses to kill, and some goddamn children to rescue. If you enjoyed the first one, or even if you liked GoldenEye and fancy a change, then this is certainly one of the best N64 blasters on the market. And even better, it should be dirt cheap by now, so drop by a local bargain bin and have a look. You won't regret it.
yerricde points out that "From what I've seen of Turok 2, its frame rate in deathmatch is too low. How can you have a playable FPS without a high FPS?" - this is a good point. I forgot to mention the Expansion Pak support that allowed the game to use a high resolution mode - this was the first game to support the peripheral. Unfortunately, designers were still getting to grips with it, so the results were patchy at best. The single player game was... okayish with the high res mode, but the multiplayer ended up resembling a slide show more often than not whenever two characters met. These problems were, thankfully, pretty much sorted out for Turok: Rage Wars (the next in the series) but so many people were annoyed by this that the game accrued quite a reputation for being a bit pants. However, it is still worth a play, but in multiplayer, do yourself a favour, and turn the high res off. The frame rate may still be bad, but it's not quite as bad. If all else fails, and you just can't stand how slow it goes, then play Rage Wars instead...
Owning the game.
Back of the box.
Thanks to belgand for some corrections.