Posted by: KoKroach (Koratte) | January 17, 2008

Turok Demo – First Look

Turok - Dinomauling

The first thing I thought when I started this demo up was: “Oh lord, more Turok, how lame”. The second thing I thought was: “holy hell, ever heard of a menu screen?”. You’re dropped right into the game, with just a few lines of back story, and a controller map to look over while it loads.

Upon taking control or Mr. Turok, you’ll soon begin to despise your ally, Slade. In the first area, a small section of bone-littered caves where the game teaches you that you can crouch, he has 6 lines of dialogue, all of which make me think he is a bit of a girl. Worse still, once you’ve played the demo once and can breeze through this small starting section, he says all 6 in succession, in about 30 seconds, so he’s talking almost non-stop. Here are the last 2 lines of his dialogue:

“It’s dark in here, I don’t like it”
“This place is starting to get me spooked, the only thing I hate more than being underground is when I’m underground and it’s dark”

Well, he may be a pansy, but at least he’s not bad with a shotgun.

As you wander through the first caves, you catch a glimpse of a raptor through a gap in the wall, obscured by what looks like tree roots hanging down across the opening. You then have to crouch through another small tunnel and hit a checkpoint, and you can’t miss the sound of something squishy being torn and some very manly screams. That’s probably the worst thing that can happen in a game, hitting a checkpoint and hearing a guy screaming. Made even worse by the fact that when you round the next corner you see a body flung to the ground, and a scaly tail flick round and disappear. As you approach the body your view moves to the ground a few meters up ahead and you’re treated to a cutscene. Slade spots a shotgun and promptly picks it up. You know what’s coming don’t you.

At that moment a raptor attacks you from behind, knocking you down the small ledge, preventing you from going back. Then you have two of the buggers to take out. Cue dual-wielded SMG’s. Sorry, did you miss that? Turok now has dual wielding, woo! And after you pump both of them full of lead, you notice something else pretty sweet.. they twitch after they die. Occasionally a raptor will even stumble after taking damage, another pretty cool feature. Turok has had quite the overhaul from the totally naff game it was only a few years ago.

While gunning through the next few areas you’re likely to run out of ammo, and that moment is the turning point that moves Turok away from being yet another mediocre shooter. Switching to the bow, you take aim and fire an arrow into an oncoming raptor. The arrow sticks and he falls to the ground. It’s at that point you should probably try the grenades. The slight delay and strange trajectory take a little while to get used to, but mastering it means you can turn a group of dinosaurs into little chunks. The only weapon left to try then, is the knife. Though melee weapons are almost always crap, so don’t even bother, I didn’t. That is, until I experienced the next cool mechanic – a raptor knocked me down and pinned me to the floor, trying to eat my face. Depending on the exact situation, you can stab your way free by either wiggling the left stick, or tapping the left and right triggers. The torn bits of skin on the attacking dino made me want to try the knife, just for a little. And oh happy days, context-sensitive actions! Two of my favourite actions are grabbing a raptor in a headlock and slitting its throat, and stabbing it in the top of head then kicking it to the ground.

But then Turok has always had fun gimmicks when it comes to weapons, but this time around they seem to have real potential in building a fairly solid game. Another thing that should strike you while playing through the demo is the sideways dodge ability. It’s a little useless in the demo, as even facing down a huge dino later you can survive without too much hassle. The real magic comes when you dodge a raptor, dive round the back, jump on his back and get all slash-happy with those context knife actions.

Through the next few cave areas, you acquire a shotgun and with it the unlimited supply of flares on the secondary-fire button. Yet another chance to play with some cool weapons. As you may recall from when Slade got the shotgun earlier, the raptors are attracted to flares. The idea of this is to use dinos to your advantage later in the game, by luring them near other enemies so they fight each other. Sounds like a neat little idea, just how it will work remains to be seen, but as long as it works better than trying to orchestrate a fight between the covenant and the flood I’ll be relatively happy with it. I prefer other ways of using it however. First, the simple one, firing a flare straight at an enemy causes dinos to panic and run around chasing their tails, then get extremely vicious when it goes out. Firing the flare at a more human enemy is a bit less effective, as whatever boot camp they came from teaches the old stop drop and roll malarkey. The other big use for the flare is grouping raptors together, before lobbing a grenade into their midst, very satisfying.

The next much more open area, reintroduces you to the little dinos you may remember from the past Turok games. They wander around, and attack you occasionally, but not always. Still, just to be safe, walk around with the knife, pick the buggers up, and slit their throats. A much larger reptile then decides it doesn’t like you, and you meet up with Slade just in time to double-team this big mutha trucker. After watching the trailer for the game, and stabbing everything else I’d came across so far, I ran up to him with the knife and hoped for some context-sensitive goodness, but alas. Maybe I just couldn’t get a good angle, or maybe you need a good vantage point to jump down on top of the bigger enemies.

After the big dino battle, you meet up with another ally, Reece, the obligatory sniper guy. Walking behind those two while they have a chat, you see a biggish dino that they’re both ignoring and walk right past. Must be a herbivore. So yeah, try stabbing it anyway, it’s always good for moral to kill something much bigger than you, no matter if it was happily eating leaves when you snuck up on it. Moving into the next area some dialogue triggers a relapse of Turok’s training about quiet knife kills. The next area contains plenty of guys to try out the stealthy, and not so stealthy, knife kills. As a general rule, attacking from behind is silent, but attacking from the front treats you to a much more entertaining, and aggressive, action. Switching back to the bow to get some stealthy ranged kills, you might be lucky enough to pin a body to a wall, now that’s cool. It does crop up in the genre from time to time, but sticking a fresh corpse to the wall with an arrow just seems to fit perfectly into a Turok game.

The last weapon you’ll get to try before the end of the demo is the pulse rifle. I do recommend playing with it for as long as possible, although the primary fire is a tad boring for such a weapon-orientated shooter, the secondary grenade launcher is the business. It’s not quite powerful enough to kill a soldier in one blast, but that’s not the beauty of this weapon. It creates a shockwave in a large blast radius, propelling the enemy, powerful enough to send him several meters in the air, and quite a fair distance horizontally. Imagine the fun you could have with this on any level with a large drop, sending groups of soldiers to their doom with a single blast.

I’ve never been much of a Turok man myself, but this demo sure has whet my appetite for some dinosaur-blasting fun. And given the new dynamic for stealth Vs ‘huge firepower’, this game could turn out nothing short of amazing, if they can pull all this off smoothly. Here’s hoping that the release version turns out half as good as the demo.

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