Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Publisher - Touchstone
Developer - Propaganda Games
124 KB to Save Game
In-Game Dolby Digital
Online Multiplayer 2-16
Recently a few of us gameboyz.com staff had a chance to visit Propaganda Games Studio in Vancouver, B.C. to preview Turok for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on its official launch day. In addition to getting an overview of the game we also had the opportunity to meet with some of the developers, gain an in-depth look at the development of the game and play some of the multiplayer maps with staff from Propaganda. The leads from Art, Sound, Level Design and Multiplayer all gave us some background into the making of the game. The experience proved to be beneficial and following the event we were all pretty impressed with the work and detail that went into making Turok. As Turok is Propaganda Games first title, and published by Touchstone, you cannot help but get the sense from the highly motivated staff that they want Turok to be a success. But will Turok place Propaganda Games on the map? Based on what I have seen and played thus far, there is no question they will be a force in the gaming industry for years to come. Turok is a great first step for this new development team and it really leaves me looking forward to seeing what else they have up their sleeve.
Overall the visuals in Turok for the Xbox 360 are solid and are arguably some of the best we have seen on the Xbox 360 in 2008 thus far. While visiting with Propaganda they were very proud to tell us that they originally started designing Turok with the Unreal 3 Engine but they eventually switched to designing everything in-house, including the graphics engine. When you first fire up Turok and jump into the story mode you are quickly captivated by the games opening visuals and storyline. The opening cut-scene is solid and this is only an inkling of what is to come as the later ones, which display some flashback moments with our main character Joseph Turok and his main foe Roland Kane, are just as rock-solid too. I was impressed that not much was lost from during the transition from cut-scene to gameplay. The cut-scenes almost give you the feeling you are watching a movie and I found it very engaging.
Most importantly, what would a Turok game be without cool looking Dinosaurs? Fortunately, they manage to look great and I was impressed at the level of detail that went into the design of the beasts. The way they behave is incredible as their movements are exactly as we have seen in all those Jurassic Park movies of past. Even as you blast away at one of them with your shotgun, the blood effects and cuts that the Dino's sustain are all impressive. Not every Dinosaur in Turok is a blood thirsty angry beast either. In the game many of them are friendly herbivores which behave as they would in the pre-historic wild. Besides the dinosaurs, all the main characters look very strong too and they will remind you of some of those over-sized military thugs we have seen in Gears of War. Granted you do not get Gears of War quality with the characters, however they do look very good and their movements are bang on. The details such as the scars on their faces and their facial expressions during the cut-scenes are very slick looking.
One of the strong points in Turok, are the environments. Such things as the mountainous terrain, the water, the jungle, the buildings and underground bases all look great as the Turok environments are perfectly rendered. The games maps/levels are large and the detail is simply amazing. It almost reminds me of the same type of terrain you encounter in Far Cry but it is simply looks so much cleaner. The environments alone truly demonstrate what a next-generation console is capable of doing. The textures are solid and the overall look of the landscapes creates the perfect type of atmosphere for Turok.
In addition to the sharp looking environments, the lighting effects are also very good. Some of the shots during the game when you are overlooking the jungles and the mountains with the sun starting to fall are stellar. You will even notice some of the amazing shadow effects in the game too. As the characters move about, shadows drift off the characters and objects realistically. Even in the dark caves, the lighting is very strong and I had no real concerns with this area.
As far as the sound is concerned, Turok is fantastic. My favorite aspect with regards to the audio is without question the voice acting. It's gritty, raw and believable. Some of you may be familiar with the voices. Ron Perlman (Hellboy) does a great job as Slade, Powers Boothe plays the role of Roland Kane, William Fichtner plays as Logan and Donnie Wahlberg is Shepard. It was great to see this kind of Hollywood talent lending their voices to the game. It gave Turok an authentic feeling and the intensity that Perlman, Booth and Fichtner bring to the game is terrific. I never got that cheesy feeling that I get from so many other shooters. The voices are clear and engaging and they really add to the atmosphere of the game.
It doesn't take much to get immersed in the game and much of the games fantastic atmosphere is created by the musical score. The soundtrack is excellent and sounds terrific in 5.1 surround sound. In fact, the first ten minutes of the game will be sure to give your subwoofer a great workout. The music effectively ‘amps-up’ as the action becomes more intense, something we typically see in modern day first person shooters. My only concern is the music can become repetitive at times as it seems to loop over and over now and then.
Overall the in-game sounds effects are well done as well. From the sounds of the water trickling off the mountains to the sounds of the various plants in the jungle swaying in the wind and birds chirping in the distance, the detail is impressive. The screeching, growling and snarling of all the dinosaurs sounded very crisp and clear too. At one point my dog started barking at the TV as the sounds were that believable. I was most impressed with the thundering sounds of the T-Rex approaching. Everything seems to stop in the jungle and all you can focus on is the thundering boom getting closer and closer. The result if terrific as you feel your heart beat just a little bit faster in anticipation of the giant beast appearing from the thick trees.
As far as the weapon sounds are concerned, Turok falls a little short compared to other FPS games out on the market already. You do not get Call of Duty 4 type weapon sounds which were done to perfection. It’s not that the guns sound poor; you just do not get near the detail as you do in CoD4 as they just don’t feel like they pack a punch at times. Too often I would be unloading my shotgun into a Dino but it just did not seem like I was doing much damage. A shotgun blast should be exactly that; a blast. The different weapons all have unique sounds but nothing will jolt you out of your chair.
Overall, the gameplay in Turok is a bit of 'mixed bag'. On one hand, the game is quite enjoyable and I found the story and single player experience to be very engaging. On the other hand, the game suffers from far too many annoyances which hinder the overall experience. I will eventually get into some of these annoyances; but first I will give you a bit of background with regards to the single player story.
As you could have guessed by now, you play as Joseph Turok. You have been enlisted along with several others to capture Roland Kane and bring him back to Earth. Your band of soldiers is called the Whiskey Company. Don’t ask me why they go by that name. Maybe some of you diehards from the Turok comic book days will figure that one out. At the beginning of the game Turok, along with the rest of Whiskey Company, are seen heading to a desolate planet in a military spaceship where it is believed Kane is located. Turok isn't immediately accepted by the rest of the soldiers, most notably Slade, as it is believed Turok fled and betrayed his former band of soldiers known as 'Wolfpack'. This on-going feud with Slade is played out throughout the game. Eventually the ship is shot down over the planet and the mission quickly turns into a battle of survival. The planet is littered with mutant dinosaurs and Kane's henchmen. The game features a number of missions which all tie into one another. Turok is all about staying alive and stopping Kane. It's truly a captivating story and certainly one of the better plot lines I have seen on the Xbox 360 to date. On the downside, some of the games storylines are left dangling in the end but it only paves the way for a likely sequel to the game.
Turok is a first person shooter and plays out as many shooters do. It's all about survival, killing Kane's robotic-like henchmen and trying to not get eaten alive by the planet's dinosaurs. Turok is nicely balanced as you don’t spend all your time shooting down the Enemy AI nor do you spend countless hours stabbing dinosaurs on the skull. You main threats are Kane's men as well as some of the dinosaurs that will come sprinting after you. One of the great aspects of the game which separates Turok from your typical FPS is the fact you can use the dinosaurs as a tool to attack enemy soldiers. You can attract the roaming dinosaurs with a flare if you place it in the right position. Here the beasts will quickly turn on the enemy. It is cool little feature and there are points in the game where using this strategy is critical to your survival.
Turok features an abundance of weapons. After speaking with some of the developers it is clear they would have liked to have seen even more futureristic weapons featured in the game but unfortunately not all could be included in the final cut. Here is where some of my annoyances surface. Now do not get me wrong, I love the variety of the weapons, but far too often I found myself killing enemies and dinosaurs with my knife. I found the guns themselves were just not as effective as the knife. I would be blasting away with my SMG or Pulse riffle but nothing was getting the same outcome as the knife. The knife killing works in a way which is unique to shooters. Whenever you get close to an enemy an icon will appear which indicates when you need to employ the knife. Pull the trigger at the right moment and the game quickly breaks into a mini cut-scene of sorts and you watch the dinosaurs gruesome death. Make sure the kids aren’t around because the mutilating of the dinosaurs is truly a gorefest. The developers did a wonderful job and for the first couple of hours of gameplay it was incredibly satisfying taking my knife and jamming down on a raptors skull. Unfortunately, it does get old after awhile as you tend to rely on knife kills far too often because this is the most effective method of dispatching them. Another concern I had with the knife killing was as you break into the mini cut-scene you will consistently find that you lose your sense of direction. After jamming a knife into a dinosaur’s head the game throws you right back into the action. As there is no directional map, I found I needed a few seconds to get my sense of direction back.
Another annoyance I had with the game was the damage effects. Whenever you get shot or bitten the screen starts to turn red. We have seen this effect in games such as Gears of War and CoD4, however none block out the screen as much as Turok does. I just found it incredibly annoying and difficult to deal with. Far too often you will find your screen turning red while you are getting knocked to the ground and shot at by enemies. I understand what the developers were trying to do but I just think they went a little over the top.
This brings me to Turok’s checkpoints and save system. In this day in age we get spoiled with frequent checkpoints and save at anytime opportunities located throughout a game Turok seems to falter in this area. Sure, it has its share of checkpoints but they are just not placed where they should be. There are certain points in the game where you frequently die at the same point each time and to get back to that same point where you met your doom you have to go back and battle through hordes of enemies just to get back to the place where you originally died. It can be frustrating and may discourage some gamers in their quest to continue with the game. Bottom line, I would like to have seen a save anywhere feature, or at least checkpoints in areas where you know your doom is right around the corner.
The controls are easy to pick-up and learn in Turok. I felt the game could have benefited from a training mode however as Turok does not feature one. Sure, the first level is meant to be a training mode but it is not as in-depth as some may want. Switching weapons is all done with the d-pad and your standard shooting and aiming is done with the triggers and analog sticks. Much of the game is a matter of trail and error. You will certainly figure things out as you go and no one should be too concerned about a steep learning curve in terms of the overall control.
In addition to the single player aspect of the game Turok features some online multiplayer as well. Turok's multiplayer supports up to 16 people in adversarial mode and up to 4 players in co-operative mode (three missions long). There are a variety of different game types in adversarial mode. Your standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatches are available. Additionally there is a Capture the Flag, Assault Capture the Flag and a Wargames mode. The games are fairly typical of most shooters however there is a unique aspect to Turok. The online game features randomly spawning computer controlled dinosaurs and insects that appear in various locations in the levels. Not only do you have to worry about your opponent, you now have to worry about dinosaurs or insects. There can be up to four AI controlled dinosaurs or insects on any map at one time.
Overall, the multiplayer aspect of the game is enjoyable but not without its share of issues. For instance, I had a difficult time with the speed of the game. Even turning down the sensitivity did not help me much. Those of you who are Unreal Tournament fans will love Turok online; but those of you who are used to a slower pace online game such as Rainbow 6: Vegas may have a more difficult time. I also had concern with the lack of maps and game types. Bottom line, Turok online is nowhere near as deep as some of the games online at this time. I really look forward to seeing what DLC this game will offer in the near future to beef this up.
Continue to Page 2