I'll begin by stating the blindingly obvious. The PC first person shooter market is crowded, competitive and close to saturated. You know this. I know this. Acclaim must know this! For an FPS game to be successful it's not enough to simply be good, chances are it will need luck and a fair wind behind it. Acclaim's PC release of last years console version of Turok Evolution doesn't need luck. Turok Evolution needs a miracle. It is dire.
Most gamers have probably heard of the Turok series, thanks to its strong debut back on the N64. Nowadays though I don't think it is unfair to say that it is not held in the highest of regard, particularly among PC gamers. Turok Evolution is probably, and hopefully, the final nail in the coffin of this franchise. Were it simply a mediocre shooter to be forgotten amidst the jungle of others it might not be so bad. But no, they've released a clearly out of date buggy mess. From the very moment the game loads up it was bug, followed by bug, followed by a hopping dinosaur, then more bugs.
And how long did it take for me to find the first bug? About twenty seconds. I loaded up the game and entered the first level and what do I find? My mouse is reversed, so pushing up causes the cursor to move down and vice versa. Not a bug I grant you, but c'mon, how many FPS's have their default controls set up that way? This tells me then that I'm not just dealing with a console port, but probably a rushed bad one. Little did I know how bad.
I press 'Esc' to get to the menu. Nothing. Huh? Let's try a function key. Nope. The little 'tilde' sign that normally brings up a console. Keep fishing Richard. So after twenty seconds of slapping the keyboard I find it, and silly old me, it was of course the 'Enter' key. Yes the 'Enter' key brings up the menu like in, oh that's right, no other game ever. Anyway so I click on 'Options', then 'Control Setup' and bingo, the first bug. Wooohoo! The result of selecting 'control setup' was that it took me to a black screen of which the only way out was the old faithful 'three fingered salute' (Ctrl-Alt-Del).
"Could have just been my settings." I thought. Hmmm, let's see, change resolution, turn off antistrophic filtering, already have latest drivers, okay let's try again... excellent, a repeatable game breaking bug. Awesome. Luckily the inverting the mouse option was in the advanced options menu (?) which strangely did work so I could play.
Back into the game then, and there was a little path to follow through a narrow part of the jungle. Heaven forbid I stray off that path as the grass is so tall you are effectively blinded. I hack a couple of baby dinosaurs to death. That cheers me up... a little. I come across a rather solid looking pool and waterfall and remembering the original's fondness for hiding stuff behind the falls I jump in. Second bug! Yeehaaaw. Swimming beneath the water causes a brilliant graphics glitch whereby the screen flashes violently and you can't see anything. (This came in particularly handy when I had to stumble my way through an underwater path by pushing forward and slowly rotating my mouse).
I was on a roll and I wanted more. The game didn't let me down once. I'd been hoping that those really unimaginative arbitrary switch puzzles made a come back. You know the kind where the message "you have found switch one of two, you lucky dog" appears on the screen leaving you to search around aimlessly to open arbitrary boulder door A. There was a welcome return of those really great platform sections, too. The ones that when you fall from a reasonably small height you actually lose all your energy. Also present is the female character that has the breasts and arse of a five-hundred pound gorilla with the waist of a chip. Not sexy - scary. Yes, it was all here.
But I've saved the very best for last. This was the icing in the cake. In the game you have absolutely pinpoint accuracy. Pinpoint! Want to shoot the wings off a fly at a hundred yards? No problem, even with a bow and arrow. That is except, of course, when you use the sniper scope. Yes, when you zoom in on the sniper scope you don't actually want to aim using the centre of the crosshairs. That would be stupid. In fact your shot will always be wide about half a screen to the right and a little bit down. Ingenious!
Seriously, how do you score a game like this? Ignoring the commentary above there is an almost decent game buried here, granted buried very deeply, but it's here none the less. A few elements show that there was some talent behind it. The dinosaur models and animations look quite nice, and parts of the architecture are quite interesting. The chapters where you fly on a pterodactyl are mildly exciting, though obviously meant for a controller not a mouse. There are even some decent FMV sequences. But to what end? The story is absurd. The graphics engine third rate. The sound effects are functional but unimpressive. But it is the complete lack of even the barest resemblance of quality assurance that makes this game completely un-endorsable in any way. If they actually released a finished version of this game I'd be happy to play through it, but sadly all this in one game just isn't done.
No mark. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Come back to me when it's finished...
"Is this gonna be a stand up fight Sir, or another bug hunt?" - Aliens.
Editor's Note: It seems that Acclaim are so keen to pretend that this disaster never happened that they're actually not mentioning it at all on any official sites - indeed, I had to check with online retailers to confirm that it could indeed be purchased. Therefore, the screenshots that adorn this page are from the console version, as no PC shots could be found. Sorry about that.
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