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I didn’t have a Nintendo 64 as a kid so I missed out on a lot of great titles for the console when they were in their prime. The Turok games are just some of them. Luckily, it’s never too late to catch up. Several years ago I obtained first two Turok games for 64 but the cumbersome controls stopped me from playing. There really was no standard FPS control scheme back when Turok released and console first-person shooters were in their infancy. But if I did have the console and these games back then, I probably would have gotten used to the controls and just enjoyed the fact I was shooting dinosaurs and alien creatures. That’s what always attracted me to the Turok series so when the remaster of the first Turok released in 2015 on Steam, I immediately jumped on it. I love first-person shooters, dinosaurs, and science fiction, so needless to say, I really enjoyed Turok. The remaster was developed by Night Dive Studios, the same developers that recently brought us the remaster of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil in March, 2017. Because of their fantastic job with the original Turok, and also because I loved the game, I was anxiously waiting for the Turok 2 remaster to release and I would frequently check the Steam app on my phone on release day, waiting for it to be available for purchase. Turok 2 was originally released for the Nintendo 64 in October, 1998 and I remember it being a pretty big deal.
You play as the silent protagonist Joshua Fireseed, or Turok, and as soon as the game starts, Turok comes flying out of some kind of portal and is greeted by an alien woman named Adon. Adon explains that Turok must defeat an evil alien creature known as the Primagen. Somehow he became imprisoned in the wreckage of his own Lightship. Under the command of the Primagen, various species of aliens are trying to destroy five energy totems to free him from the wreckage. Obviously, if he’s set free, that would be bad news. There’s five massive levels to traverse and Turok needs to acquire five Talismans that grant him special abilities. He can then use these abilities to acquire Primagen keys. After collecting all of the keys, Turok can then battle the Primagen. I really wish modern game developers would play this and take some notes. Right after Adon explains what’s happening, you immediately start playing. There’s no hand holding or any bullshit and you figure things out as you go. It’s refreshing. There is voice acting, usually from Adon providing you with information, although sometimes I can’t understand what she’s saying. The voice acting really isn’t that great but for a game that was originally released in 1998, it’s fine.
After beating the first level, you warp to a hub world where you can warp to any of the levels, however you need to find keys to gain access to each level. I don’t like the fact that the levels in the hub world are identified by symbols rather than numbers, making it difficult to know which level is which. If you’ve played this religiously, it may not be a problem but I frequently found myself walking into the wrong portals. The levels, themselves, contain keys to access other levels among other collectibles. If you thought the levels were big in the first game, well they’re even bigger in Turok 2. Every level contains multiple areas separated by warp portals. Along the way you will discover checkpoint stations where you can acquire ammo, health, or warp to any other checkpoint stations you’ve discovered throughout the levels. Each level contains a Primagen key that can only be accessed by using abilities granted from Talismans. To obtain Talismans you need to find sacred feathers and bring them to the Talisman Chambers found in the levels. Talismans grant you abilities like being able to jump over large gaps, swim in toxic water, and walk on lava, among others. You’ll frequently be revisiting levels because the Talismans needed to obtain the Primagen keys are usually found different levels. Although, if you’ve never played this, you’ll probably be revisiting levels often for various reasons. All of the levels are huge and become more complex as you progress, with secret areas, switches, buttons, and keys that unlock doors, and it’s just very easy to get lost. What sucks is that if you make it to the end of a level and realized you missed something, you have no real way to know where it is unless you were paying attention. You can bring up a map and the inventory screen shows what essentials you’ve collected but that’s the only real help you’re going to get. The fourth level, Lair of the Blind Ones, encompasses everything that sucks about 90’s level design. It is by far the worst level in the entire game with similar looking corridors and rooms, and I think I spent about two or three hours just trying to progress through it.
As you progress through the game you’ll acquire an impressive collection of weapons. You start with a talon, bow, flare gun, and pistol but eventually obtain a shotgun that can fire normal and explosive rounds, grenade and missile launchers, and my favorite, the Cerebral Bore. This thing locks on to enemies and fires a projectile that drills into their heads before exploding. I did find most of the weapons to be useful and you will eventually acquire weapons that will basically replace your starting ones. For example the Tek Bow fires arrows and explosive arrows, making the starting bow useless. The Mag 60 is a semi-automatic pistol and is vastly superior to the standard one. The War Blade is just awesome looking and does more damage than your Talon. I think the Tranquilizer Gun may be the most useless. It temporarily puts enemies to sleep and the only way I could see this being useful is if you want to save ammo for other weapons. But because there’s plenty of ammo scattered throughout the levels, ammo never really becomes a problem. Throughout the levels are portals to oblivion that need to be unlocked by finding a switch. These portals consist of unique enemies and Nuke pieces. After obtaining all of the pieces you can then use the Nuke Weapon which is extremely powerful.
Each level contains a set of objectives that you must complete. If you fail to complete all of the objectives before leaving via the exit portal, you’ll be warped back to the beginning of the level. These objectives include things like rescuing people, killing specific enemies, and destroying things. The real challenge is finding the locations of the objectives within the levels. This remaster includes an option called “Hints” and with it on, exclamation points will be displayed where required items are like switches and collectibles, for example. This is one of the best parts of this remaster and makes finding things much easier. You still need to pay attention and figure out where to go and you can always turn “Hints” off if you really want to. When you finally do manage to complete all of the objectives you can then leave via the exit portal where you need to defend an Energy Totem from attacking enemies and later levels also require you to defeat a boss.
Turok 2 feels like a classic shooter. You can run, jump, strafe, crouch and new to the remaster is the ability to grab onto ledges to pull yourself up. It’s actually a fantastic addition that makes navigation easier and more fluid. The core gameplay consists of shooting at anything that moves and there’s no reloading. Ammo, health, and life force pieces can be acquired throughout the levels. If you manage to acquire one hundred life force pieces you are rewarded with an extra life. Each level consists of enemies and there’s quite a variety to eliminate. There’s mutant dinosaurs, insects, and different types of alien creatures, with each level usually introducing a new species. They all have different attacks and obviously the enemies become more challenging as you progress. One level in particular contains some kind of turrets that fire at you and deal a significant amount of damage. However, my issue with them is that they start firing the moment you enter a room. If it’s your first time playing you will have no idea that they’re there and most likely get annihilated. Thankfully, you can quicksave anywhere. I should also mention that the smaller enemies are really fucking annoying. You know those games with small enemies that normally appear in large numbers and can swarm you easily? Yeah, well Turok 2 has these and they’re just terrible. They’re hard to hit, they attack relentlessly, and they’re just not fun. There’s four bosses in the game which are all unique and have different attack patterns but none of them proved to be too challenging. Unfortunately, there’s no boss battle here that really compares to the awesome and memorable battle against Thunder from the first game.
There’s four difficulty modes – Easy, Normal, Hard, and Hardcore. I think playing this on PC does make combat slightly easier. With that said, you may want to play on one of the two higher difficulties. Like I stated earlier, I found the original 64 game’s controls to be cumbersome and obviously playing on PC eliminates that problem. Turok 2 was pretty impressive for it’s time with excellent graphics, animations, and even AI. Obviously, the game looks dated by today’s standards but everything does look crisp and the game runs super smooth. Enemies will react differently depending on which part of their body is shot. Head shots are normally an instant kill and it’s awesome watching enemy heads and body parts explode. Watching enemies stumble and squirm before they die never gets old and seeing their blood come gushing out like a fountain is just comical. Sometimes enemies will even initiate a self-destruct sequence. It’s pretty cool stuff. Enemies will flee when you shoot at them and they’ll even take cover behind objects when under fire. When you fire arrows you can see them get stuck in enemies, walls, or in the ground and they can be retrieved. This is actually quite a violent game, especially for it’s time, with blood splattering everywhere as you shred through the hordes of alien creatures. The more powerful weapons will eviscerate enemies and the sound effects are quite excellent. Guns and explosions sound powerful, enemies will make squealing sounds when they’re injured, and it all helps to make the combat that much more satisfying. The music is definitely worth mentioning. There’s some memorable stuff to be heard that really amplifies the action but the first level has the best music by far.
This remaster includes a ton of graphical options to help customize the look of the game to your liking. There’s bloom lighting and ambient occlusion, both of which look terrible and can thankfully be turned off. The new object motion blur effect is really cool and makes the combat feel more intense. You’ve also got light scattering, antialiasing, auto exposure, water reflections, deferred decals, and a bunch of other stuff. There’s nothing here that’s going to make this look like any modern game but these graphical effects are definitely nice to have. There are several gameplay options that can either help replicate the experience of the original 64 game or just make things flow a bit smoother. For example, by default the draw distance is extended but you can turn that off in favor of “fog” like in the original. You can even toggle between the original N64 and PC music. You can enable fast warping between levels, highlight lock on targets, toggle on or off intro sequences, and there’s even alternate weapon bobbing. There’s an “Extras” menu where you can see character, object, and weapon models, and there’s even a basic form of stat tracking here. You can see how many of each enemy you’ve killed, how many of each weapon you’ve collected, and how many times you have fired each weapon. You may not give a shit but I love stat tracking so I thought it was cool.
Now I know Turok 2 was originally a 1998 console game so, with that said, there’s not too many negative things I can say about it. I know the original 64 game had a terrible frame rate but anyone who plays 64 games should be used to that and obviously that’s not an issue with the remaster. There is some clipping here and there but other than that I experienced no serious bugs or glitches. I’m still torn on whether or not I like this or the first game better. I was sure I would have enjoyed Turok 2 more but after playing it, I’m finding it hard to choose. Now don’t get me wrong, I would definitely recommend Turok 2, especially this remaster which is by far the best version of the game. The combat feels great, it’s satisfying, violent, fun, and the gameplay still holds up today. I had a great time playing it but the complex and often confusing level design becomes tiresome. Granted, this was how many games were in the 90’s. It was all about navigating maze-like levels and key hunting, but I do question if Turok 2 is a bit excessive. Regardless, with multiple difficulties, fun gameplay, and even multiplayer which I didn’t try, there’s definitely a good amount of replay value here. The Turok remaster was eventually updated with a Level Editor and maybe the developers have that planned for Turok 2 as well, I’m not sure. Actually, it would be nice if they made the game fully moddable. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil was and still is a great game. If you’re looking for a reason to return or if you’ve never played it before, definitely check out this remaster.