If you were an early adopter of the Nintendo 64 in the mid-to-late nineties, you might remember a little game called Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. First-person shooters up to this point, on consoles at least, had never been this ambitious before and it was way ahead of its time. It is easy to forget just how important Turok was, it progressed the genre more than you probably think or remember. Turok came before all of the big FPS games on N64 that we all know and love. GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Duke Nukem and Quake 2, to name a few. Turok got there first and did a darn good job too.
I think one reason why Turok does not get the acclaim (no pun intended) it should do, is because the legendary GoldenEye bettered it so quickly after, as did its vastly superior sequel, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, a couple of years later. I was a bit too young when Turok first came out, but that never stopped me from playing it regardless. Although I never made it passed the first few levels, I still remember enjoying it a lot. So when it was announced that the game would be making its way to the Switch, I knew this would be a great opportunity for myself and others to either remember the game or to experience this piece of history for the first time and get the Turok name back out there.
Turok plays similar to many of the older FPS games, and its fast, run-and-gun gameplay still holds up relatively well today. This was not an era where you were supposed to hide behind walls and wait for your health to regenerate, it wants you to push forward, find some health yourself and then kill some more enemies. Its original design intended for this to happen too, which is why the enemies in the game endlessly respawn, meaning you are required to keep going forward, which again, is something you would never see in games of today.
It still plays decently well too, which is surprising considering the FPS genre has come a long way in the past 22 years. The shooting mechanics still feel fine, the guns themselves, while they don’t compare to Turok 2, are a blast to use. Even the platforming sections, which I remember being pretty awful back on the N64, actually feel half-decent here because it is much easier to move around now that we have a second analogue stick to work with, which allows us to line up jumps easier and much quicker.
Your goal in each level isn’t to simply make it to the end. Instead, you are required to find keys, which are then used to access later levels in a hub area that you get to enter whenever you finish a level. Again, with this being an older game, do not expect to be directed exactly to where each one of keys is, instead, you need to do the exploring yourself. If you explore well enough, you shouldn’t miss any, as they are not exactly in the most difficult of places, but as soon as you miss one, then you have to retrace your steps and search the whole level again, which can be slightly irritating.
With it being 22 years since Turok first released, it is natural that it looks dated. This isn’t a straight port, however, and some efforts have been made to polish the game up a bit. The most obvious being the infamous fog, which was originally in place due to technical limitations and to avoid constant background pop-ins. This has now been taken out and allows you to see the levels in the way it was intended to back in the day. You can even add the fog back in if for whatever reason you want to. As a side note to the lack of fog, it is actually easier to kill enemies, as you can now shoot them from much further away, thus not allowing them the chance to get close to you.
There are a plethora of other settings you can flick on and off, too. Blood options, controller bindings, bloom effects, and four difficulty settings, among others. So you can see that the developer Nightdive Studios has not just given us a bog-standard port, they have done a fair bit of work on this. You can even change the music from the original N64 version to the PC version, which sounds a bit cleaner, although it doesn’t quite hold the same nostalgic factor for me personally.
The Switch version also includes motion control, which at first felt like it had been tacked on at the last minute. However, with a little perseverance, it actually proves to be a decent way of controlling the smaller movements in the game. In a way, it is similar to how Splatoon 2 handles its motion control, finer movements with motion and the larger movements with the right analogue stick. It works pretty well.
Turok has aged quite a bit, which is natural. Therefore, it’s not going to be for everyone. A 22-year-old FPS never will, because it’s a genre that has moved on massively over time. However, for those that want a blast from the past, you will still love it just as much as you did back then. If you have never played Turok before and you want to experience a game that genuinely advanced the shooter genre when it first released, while you are obviously not going to feel the same love for it, you will still have tons of fun as it is still a very enjoyable shooter.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Nightdive Studios