Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Remaster) & Turok+ Review

Check out our video review:

Anybody who was around in the nineties should remember Jurassic Park. Whether you’ve seen the film or not is irrelevant. You should remember it because it was huge. I think it was the first time dinosaurs were realistically depicted in a Hollywood movie and it contained amazing special effects for the time. I’m a huge fan of the film and it’s still one of my favorite films to date. I think the film also set off this whole dinosaur-craze. Growing up I had all kinds of dinosaur toys, I know I had a dinosaur shirt at one point, and I had this awesome Jurassic Park backpack for school. It had this holographic Raptor on it. It was really cool. I do feel like the dinosaur representation in video games is sorely lacking. I know about the Jurassic Park games, Turok, and Dino Crisis. I’m sure I’m missing a few, you may even want to throw Primal Rage in that list, but what else is there? I didn’t have a Nintendo 64 growing up but I kind of remember when Turok came out. I know I saw the box or an advertisement of some sort and thought it looked awesome. Evidently, the game is based on a comic book series which I’ve never read that I think dates back to the 1950’s. Developed by Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim Entertainment, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was released for the Nintendo 64 in March, 1997. A PC port was released in November of that same year. For this review I played the remastered version for PC which was released in December, 2015 and was developed by Night Dive Studios. This remastered version was ported to Xbox One in March, 2018. This is actually a remastered version of the original PC port which contains slightly different levels than the Nintendo 64 version. This review will also cover Turok+, a mod which changes up the gameplay in numerous ways. In addition to installing Turok+ for my second playthrough, I also installed the iddqd_textures mod which is basically an HD texture pack, Vinicius Weapons Textures which contains HD versions of the weapons, Vinicius Skies Texture which adds in better looking clouds, and the HD Weapon Sounds mod which overhauls the weapon sound effects. I played the Steam version of the game and installed all of the mods through the Steam Workshop. If you plan to install mods, please read directions on how to get them working. As of this review, the Turok+ page includes links to directions on how to run mods and it also includes instructions on how to bind keys to the new functions added in the mod.

Honestly, I had no idea what the story was about at any point during my initial playthrough. The game does absolutely nothing to convey any sort of narrative. Maybe there’s a backstory or some type of explanation as to what’s going on in the manual for the original game, I don’t know. I actually own the 64 version but not the manual. Maybe the game is just an adaption of the comic book series but I really have no idea, especially because I’ve never read any of the comic books. Being curious and for the sake of this review, I looked up a plot summary. You play as Tal’Set, otherwise known as Turok, a Native American time-traveling warrior. Evidently, the mantle of Turok is provided to the eldest male of each generation and they’re tasked with protecting the barrier between Earth and The Lost Land. An evil overlord known as the Campaigner is searching for a powerful weapon known as the Chronoscepter. It’s so powerful that it was broken up into pieces to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Turok vows to stop the Campaigner and that’s the basis for the game. There’s basically no voice acting besides Turok’s name being shouted when you acquire an extra life. Turok+ adds in a taunt feature where Turok will say random one-liners but these can be turned off. Overall, the story is made up of your typical good versus evil stuff but I do like how the game mixes prehistoric with sci-fi elements, giving it a very unique atmosphere.

As you’re probably aware, many modern shooters are trying to capture the whole retro/nineties thing. If you’re into that, Turok should be right up your alley because it was released in the nineties so it’s actually authentic. And as far as I can tell, this remaster doesn’t change anything about the gameplay. The core gameplay and design is still intact. Turok is definitely a product of its time and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a lot like other classic first-person shooters. You’ve got your silent protagonist, intricate levels, key hunting, and you need to shoot anything that moves. Turok can run, jump, climb, and swim. There’s four difficulty modes – Easy, Normal, Hard, and new to this remaster is Hardcore. In Hardcore, enemies are faster, have better reaction times, and some have increased health. Actually, their movement speed on this difficulty is absolutely nuts. In Turok+, enemies will move even faster on Hard and Hardcore if you have the “enemy speedup” option turned on. Turok+ allows you to enable this feature and others through the Turok+ menu which appears when you first start playing and can also be accessed through a terminal found in the hub world. This is cool because you can toggle and change the mod’s different features as you play. If you don’t like something, you can turn it off. The mod allows you to change how specific weapons function, what types of enemies will respawn, taunt frequency, and even the enemy speed which I mentioned before. I also want to point out that the game comes with a cheat menu with a whole list of cheats that can be activated. They do need to be unlocked first by either meeting specific requirements during gameplay or by entering the cheats manually. After beating the game twice, I decided to mess around with some cheats. I activated God Mode, all weapons, and infinite ammo, mainly so I could try the Hardcore difficulty.

Turok contains eight levels and when you first start playing, you’re immediately thrown into the first level, Hub Ruins, which also doubles as a hub world where you can access the other seven levels – The Jungle, The Ancient City, The Ruins, The Catacombs, The Treetop Village, The Lost Land, and The Final Confrontation. All levels minus The Final Confrontation contain keys to unlock other levels and every level contains a Chronoscepter piece. Whenever you acquire one or multiple keys, you place them in their respective level’s mechanism thing in the hub world and when all the keys are in place, a portal opens granting you access to that respective level. Locating the keys will require some exploration but they’re not really that hard to find as long as you take the time to look around. Now the Chronoscepter pieces are a little harder to find and feel more like traditional hidden collectibles. Finding them all allows you to assemble the Chronoscepter weapon which makes the final boss battle a lot easier. Eight Chronoscepter pieces are needed to assemble the weapon and there’s supposed to be one in each level but there’s actually two pieces in the seventh level, The Lost Land. I believe both are the same piece so you only need to acquire one and I’ve read that this was present in the original PC port as well. You can view what keys and Chronoscepter pieces you’ve collected from the Keys screen, accessed from the pause menu.

Not only will you want to explore the levels for keys and Chronoscepter pieces but also to acquire new weapons. Your arsenal will consist of a knife, tek bow, pistol, shotgun, auto shotgun, assault rifle, minigun, grenade launcher, quad rocket launcher, and even sci-fi weapons like the pulse rifle, alien weapon, shockwave weapon, fusion cannon, and, of course, the Chronoscepter. Many of the familiar weapons like the pistol, shotguns, minigun, and grenade launcher function exactly as you would expect and there is no reloading. The assault rifle fires in bursts. The tek bow can fire both standard arrows and tek arrows which explode upon impact. The shotgun and auto shotgun can fire standard shells and even explosive shells. My biggest issue with the ammo types is that you cannot switch between them. The game will always default to the explosive ammo and only after you completely drain the ammo does it switch to the standard ammo type. This seems like a significant oversight and, thankfully, Turok+ rectifies this by allowing you to switch ammo types at will. Now The quad rocket launcher fires four rockets at a time. I think my favorite weapon is the pulse rifle. It’s a rapid firing energy weapon and I just like the way it looks and feels. The alien weapon fires a green beam that explodes shortly after impact. The shockwave weapon unleashes energy that will freeze enemies and cause them to explode. It can be fired by tapping the fire button but if you charge it up first, it’s much deadlier. The fusion cannon fires a giant ball of nuclear energy that causes a massive explosion upon impact, making it one of the most powerful weapons in the game. However, ammo for it is scarce so you’ll want to use it sparingly, like against bosses. The Chronoscepter is considered the most powerful weapon in the game but, unfortunately, you can only use it against the final boss unless you decide to use cheats of course. It needs to be charged up before unleashing a powerful beam that causes a devastating explosion. Turok+ makes several changes to the arsenal and to how the weapons function. For one thing, the mod includes QuickKnife and QuickGrenade functions which need to be set up as keybindings. QuickKnife allows you to quickly attack with your knife at any time, with any weapon equipped, and the QuickGrenade function allows you to throw grenades at any time. The Turok+ options menu lets you to decide if you want the pistol to be upgraded to burst fire or to be dual wielded. Both are good options and make the weapon feel much more satisfying. The assault rifle is changed to be fully automatic but you can switch to semi-fire mode at will. The shotgun can be upgraded to a double-barrel shotgun, the alien weapon doubles as a flamethrower, and the tek bow and pulse rifle are equipped with scopes. Looking through the scopes requires a key binding and it is a cool addition but, unfortunately, you can’t move while looking through the scopes. The pulse rifle also includes a new beam fire mode. In addition to all these changes, Turok+ also changes how the weapons perform, even some of their visual effects. For example, many weapons received adjustments to their damage outputs, the shotgun’s spread has been slightly reduced, the auto shotgun’s spread is slightly increased, the minigun’s fire rate increases as the barrels accelerate, the rocket launcher’s visual effects were toned down so you can see where the rockets are going, the shockwave weapon’s charge rate is doubled, and there’s all other kinds of stuff that makes experimenting with each weapon a lot of fun.

Scattered throughout the levels are life force pieces, health pickups, tek armor, and the Spiritual Invincibility power-up which, when acquired, provides you with temporary invincibility and slows down enemy movements. Basically, all enemies are moving in slow motion which enables you to easily blast them away. One gold life force piece is worth one point and a purple life force piece is worth ten. Acquire one hundred points and you earn an extra life. On Normal, health pickups and ammo are everywhere and shooting the innocent animals that roam the land will cause them to drop health. You should always be on the lookout for backpacks, especially when you respawn after death because they will increase the amount of ammunition you can carry. Tek armor basically acts as a second layer of health. When your armor is drained, you’ll revert back to draining health upon taking damage. The levels are populated with enemies and there’s a decent variety consisting of human-types like poachers, ancient warriors, and high priests along with others like dinosaurs, aliens, cyborgs, and even mechs, among other types. The more challenging enemies are encountered late in the game and my favorites have to be the Mech Raptors equipped with plasma cannons and the Triceratops equipped with rocket launchers and miniguns. I also like the Alien Infantry enemies because when you shoot them, there’s a chance they’re equipment will start beeping before they frantically try to stop themselves from inevitably exploding. Some enemies shoot at you, others throw grenades, and the basic dinosaurs and other creatures will rush you and utilize melee attacks. You need to watch out for some enemies like the high priests and demon lords because they can teleport around and fire magical attacks. The tougher enemy types appear in the later levels and dodging projectiles becomes a lot more common. The only real enemy I have problem with is the cyborg sergeants. They fire these red energy bolts with almost pin point accuracy. But the biggest problem with them is that they’re often placed around corners or in alcoves and they always get a shot off the moment you’re in view and when you’re close to them, they don’t miss. The game implements this enemy respawn system where specific enemy types will respawn after being killed. And the higher the difficulty, the faster they will respawn so if playing on Hard or Hardcore, it’s wise to always be alert to your surroundings. Turok+ allows you to disable enemy respawning or decide the type of enemies that will respawn like the weaker types, mid-tier enemies, or even all of the enemies if you so desire. There are several boss battles throughout the campaign and this game includes one of the greatest bosses to ever grace video games and that boss is known as Thunder. Thunder is cybernetic T-Rex with a skull piece that covers part of its head. It can fire a laser beam from it’s eye, breathe fire, unleash shockwaves when it stomps, and even bite you. It’s awesome. In all honesty, all of the bosses are bullet sponges and are not very difficult to defeat on the Normal difficulty mode. It’s just that Thunder is so cool and memorable. I’ve beaten this remastered version once before and this battle is the one thing that always stands out to me when I think of the game.

I acquired the Nintendo 64 version of Turok several years ago, sometime after I got my 64 in 2010. I played it briefly but was turned off by the control scheme. Back when Turok first released, I would say there was no real standard control scheme for console first-person shooters, so I guess people just got used to it as I would have had I been able to play this back then. Regardless, playing this remastered version of Turok with modern PC controls is a godsend, and possibly makes the game a little easier. The levels include a lot of platforming. In fact, I think Turok could also double as a platformer. I know I played through the training mode in the 64 version and just like its iteration here, there’s a sequence where you’re told to jump and the game recommends looking down as you jump so you can better position yourself for landing. With modern PC controls, this really isn’t necessary. I never felt like I had to look down to confirm my landing unless I was jumping from an extremely high point like in The Treetop Village level for example. I was basically speeding through levels without a problem. The levels contain these blue portals that seemingly appear and disappear at random. Running through them normally takes you to a small area where you can acquire life force pieces, health, and even ammo but I don’t really understand the point of these areas. I just assume it’s to acquire the extra resources. These areas seem to offer a lot of health pickups, at least on Normal, but also what I’ll call “platforming challenges” which aren’t that difficult to overcome in this version so acquiring everything in these areas is a piece of cake. Movement is fast and fluid and I never struggled with the controls like I did with the 64 game. I’m sure those that played the 64 game religiously mastered the controls over time but I’m still going to assume controlling Tal’Set here is a lot easier. With that said, you can move at an extreme pace and on Normal, the game is basically a breeze so you may want to ramp up the difficulty. It may be wise to play on Hard on your first run through the game and if you get stuck, you can always lower the difficulty from the pause menu at any time. The final few levels offer the most resistance but there’s always plenty of health and ammo lying around in addition to the enemies that drop health and ammo upon getting killed on the lower difficulty modes. Add in the fact that aiming with the mouse is a lot easier than aiming with the Nintendo 64 controller’s joystick, and enemies will be the least of your worries, at least in the early levels. The levels are fairly large and intricate and you may have to backtrack to acquire something you missed like keys or Chronoscepter pieces. Sometimes you’ll come across blocked off areas that normally require you to press a button or kills specific enemies to unblock. The levels are filled with numerous areas, rooms, branching paths, teleporters, there’s some labyrinths here and there, even secret areas. And to exit a level you run back through the entrance portal or find the exit portal. You’ll have to watch out for environmental hazards like gaps, spikes, blades, lava, falling rocks, and other stuff but these things really aren’t that hard to avoid. Scattered throughout each level are checkpoints and save stations which allow you to manually save the game. If you die, you’ll respawn at the last checkpoint or save station. I think it’s important to mention that the levels in the PC port and this remastered version are slightly different than the levels in the 64 original. I do know there’s a mod on the Steam Workshop that includes the original levels.

Turok originally released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997 and its visuals haven’t exactly aged well. This remastered version allows for widescreen resolutions but doesn’t really enhance the textures, character models, or anything like that, at least not to a significant degree. The textures are blurry, character models are blocky, and the draw distance is extremely short. There is an option in the vanilla game which extends the draw distance but it’s still noticeably short. On a positive note, the character animations are pretty good, at least for a 1997 game, and I particularly enjoy the enemy death animations since some of them are actually humorous. The iddqd_textures mod replaces most of the environmental textures with new crisp HD textures that look incredible. But even with the new textures, many areas still feel empty with little detail, and I assume that’s mainly due to performance reasons in the 64 version. You will come across different structures, buildings, and there’s trees scattered around which make the areas feel somewhat organic but many areas just feel empty. I’ll let it go because I do think this is related more to the game’s age and the hardware it was originally designed for than anything else. There are neat little details here and there like skulls and corpses lying around, even animals roaming around the outdoor environments.  The HD weapon textures and Skies texture compliment the iddqd_textures nicely and I would highly recommend installing all three if you’re looking to give the game a slight facelift. The audio work in Turok is good overall. The music is definitely unique and it’s not the type of music I often hear in games. It’s very tribal-sounding which matches the theme of the game perfectly. However, none of the tracks were really that memorable to me and they all kind of blended together after a while. The weapon sound effects are okay at best but the enemy and environmental sound effects are worth noting. Enemies will scream, screech, groan, and roar upon getting killed. You’ll even hear some enemies choking and gargling as they die. As you navigate through caves you’ll hear water dripping and you’ll frequently hear animal noises as you navigate the outdoor environments. I do not like the sound effect for acquiring life force pieces and health. It’s just becomes grating after a while. Turok+ adds in sound effects for your footsteps which is a nice touch and the HD Weapon Sounds mod replaces many of the weapons fire sound effects with higher quality ones that are a noticeable improvement over the vanilla sounds. As for the performance, I did not experience any major issues during either playthrough. The game runs fast and smooth. The only bug I noticed is texture clipping in numerous areas but nothing serious.

I played this Turok remaster once before back when it originally released. I also played the Turok 2 remaster when that released. And I seem to bounce between which of the two games I like the best. I think the arsenal, combat, and presentation in Turok 2 is superior but I remember the crazy maze-like levels being more tedious than fun. I like this game’s more straightforward style. The levels are large, there’s plenty of secrets to find, and there’s plenty of shit to shoot but getting lost is never really a problem here. Thanks to the modern PC controls, navigating the environments is a flawless process but also kind of makes the game lean more towards the easy side, at least if playing on Normal. I think the game is a lot of fun but I would recommend turning up the difficulty on your first run through it. Some of the enemies on display here are really cool. Cybernetic dinosaurs, aliens, mechs, and one of the coolest boss battles I’ve ever experienced. Besides the visuals aging rather poorly, there’s not a lot of negative things I can say about the game. The gameplay is solid and still holds up. I do kind of wish more enemies were added into the game, at least in this remastered version, because I don’t think the difficulty is really balanced for speeding through levels and quickly blowing away enemies with super precise aim. You can easily clear out an area in a matter of seconds if you’re quick enough. Regardless, higher difficulty modes should increase the challenge and make the game less of a cakewalk. If you’ve already played this and want to jump back in, I would suggest installing the Turok+ mod which does enhance the gameplay in positive ways and with all of the new options available, it gives the game even more replay value. The new weapon adjustments are really cool and may change up how you approach situations. I would also suggest installing the texture mods and HD Weapon Sounds mod because they do make the presentation a bit more appealing.

Turok is a nineties shooter and it shows both visually and in its gameplay. However, its unique blend of pre-historic and science fiction make it stand out, even today. It’s a shame the series hasn’t progressed all that much in recent years. I actually played the 2008 reboot, or whatever you want to call it, when it released and thought it was okay but not great. After playing this and even the second game, I do think these are the better entries. Turok is a game I would highly recommend to fans of first-person shooters and action games. In fact, if you’re big into dinosaurs and are looking for a game that will scratch that itch, Turok is still a viable option. I would love to see more games with this kind of theme but until then, we have to live with what we have. And what we have here is a classic game with fun gameplay. Definitely check it out.

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