Touchstone – Turok review

dinosaur and human blood-bath
Photo of Touchstone – Turok

It seems like a hundred years ago that the dino-hunting game Turok appeared on the N64, and now it’s returned with a complete makeover to try to attract the first-person shooter crowd who want something a little more challenging. What Touchstone has produced is a curious hybrid that attempts to cross-breed Jurassic Park and Unreal Tournament.

Using the Unreal engine, the developers have created a promising storyline about a mercenary with Native American Indian ancestry leaving a ruthless black ops troop known as the Wolfpack, after he questioned their ethics and their leader (and Turok’s former mentor) Roland Kane.

Turok’s now joined a new squad of tough guys known as Whiskey Company, dispatched to arrest Kane, who’s now holed up on a distant planet. After their spaceship is shot down approaching landing, the survivors’ focus changes to mere survival, as they not only have to take on Kane’s army but hordes of dinosaurs and mutated insects.

It’s at this point that the storyline effectively disappears – apart from the occasional flashbacks to Turok’s time with Wolfpack – and the action settles down into a fairly conventional shooter. Aside from a relatively standard collection of weaponry (shotgun, SMG, sniper rifle) there are three weapons that have more interesting functions. The first is the knife, which functions both as a stealth attack on human foes and also as the primary defence against most smaller dinos (both accompanied by some bloody FMV).

You also pick up, quite early on, a bow: this is extremely useful for taking out enemies quietly from a distance. And finally there’s the flare gun, which can be used to distract dinos by diverting their hunger towards enemy soldiers.

Fortunately, virtually all the guns can be dual-wielded and have secondary uses, while sticky bombs are handy for spreading lethal minefields. There’s usually plenty of weapons and ammo to be collected from enemy HQs and dead bodies and, although there are no health packs, you simply have to duck behind shelter for a few seconds to recharge your health.

Despite the Unreal engine, the graphics are nothing exceptional (certainly compared with the startling authenticity of, say, Crysis) with mostly the same lush vegetation throughout and a few steel industrial complexes. The dinosaurs are extremely detailed, however, and roar and thrash about in a convincing manner.

They at least seem to have some native cunning, attacking you sneakily from high grass or from trees, yet the AI of the human foes is pathetic; frequently standing in the open even after their compatriots have just been gunned down. The other striking omission is the lack of a ‘run’ ability, so if you’ve caught the eye of the T-Rex, then praying is your best option.

Company: Touchstone

Not the conventional dino-hunting game of yore, but the dinosaur combat is the more exciting part of this testosterone-fuelled shoot-‘em-up, that only just manages to rise above the conventional FPS.