Friday, March 2, 2018

Turok 2 Review (XONE)

The 1998 holiday season is one of my fondest gaming memories as a kid. Just on the N64 alone we got Ocarina of Time, Rogue Squadon, South Park, and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, the latter three of which used the newly released Expansion Pak to make their graphics look better. Let’s just say that Turok 2’s “high res” (lol) graphics blew my 15-year old mind back then even as I got frustrated and lost in its maze-like levels. Fast forward to 2018 and Turok 2 has been remastered for Xbox One. The visuals don’t wow quite the same way they did back then, unfortunately, which makes the gigantic and confusing level designs stick out as a negative even more. The remaster itself is impeccable and great, but Turok 2 doesn’t hold up as well as the original Turok. Continue reading our full review of Turok 2 on Xbox One.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Nightdive Studios
  • Developer: Nightdive Studios, Iguana Entertainment
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: FPS
  • Pros: Great feeling gameplay; weapon selection; cheats; graphical options
  • Cons: The levels are too damn big
  • MSRP: $20

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Just like the Turok 1 remaster, this is not a remake of Turok 2. It was designed to retain the N64 experience in terms of feel and visuals, so don’t expect gorgeous modern day graphics. It looks like a chunky, blocky, very polygonal N64 game, which means Nigtdive Studios got it pretty much perfect. The graphics won’t exactly wow you like they did back in 1998, but certain aspects like environmental fire effects and the flamethrower weapon still do look surprisingly good even today.

Turok 2 on Xbox One brings with it plenty of options to play with to adjust everything from camera bob (in case it makes you feel motion sickness), light bloom, motion blur, water reflections, and much more. You can also choose to have the N64 fog at its original distance or pushed out further. The game runs at a silky smooth 60 FPS as well, which is fantastic. I’m also happy to say that all of the original cheat codes still work in this remaster (BEWAREOBLIVIONISATHAND), so you can cheat to your heart’s content as long as you don’t mind not being able to earn achievements.

For the most part this is a very faithful remaster of the classic game that retains the look and feel of the original, but there is one key upgrade – online multiplayer. You can play online deathmatch with up to 16 players in this version of the game, which is pretty crazy. The game is loads of fun in multiplayer, too.

The gameplay in Turok 2 is easily better than the already stellar shooting in Turok 1. The weapons got even wilder this time around with standouts including a saw blade boomerang and the Cerebral Bore – which shoots out a homing projectile that drills into the enemy’s brain – along with all of the expected pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers, and other fun stuff every FPS had to have at the time. Shooting enemies feels really, really great here and headshots resulting in popping heads and gallons of blood spewing everywhere was just awesome. There is no doubt that the core gameplay was a big improvement in Turok 2. And it feels even better on Xbox One thanks to using a modern dual analog control scheme.

Turok 2 is undoubtedly a step up over Turok 1 in just about every objective way. It plays better, it looks better, it has more features, etc., but it failed in one key area, which was map design. The designers at Iguana Entertainment just sort of went nuts with the levels and they ended up being gigantic and sprawling and convoluted to the point that they are, honestly, just too damn big. You also had objectives to complete, too, and if you didn’t thoroughly explore every last inch of every level to find lost kids or activate distress beacons, you had to run through the level all over again which could take a couple of hours. The game also had a terrible checkpoint system back on N64 as well with only a couple of checkpoints within each massive level.

The good news is that the checkpoint system is fixed in this remaster thanks to a new save system that lets you save anywhere you want, but the other issues with the level designs remain. The levels are just too big and complicated and aren’t all that fun to explore. There are a million locked doors and hidden switches everywhere and playing it just feels like a chore. I know this is “oldschool game design”, but even back in 1998 this was considered way too over the top and not very fun. It’s a game you really want to play because the weapons are so cool and it feels so good to shoot stuff, but the levels get in the way. That’s why I always just resorted to using the cheat codes to have fun. There’s no shame in that.

In the end, Turok 2 on Xbox One is a very well executed remaster that adds some much appreciated features (online multiplayer) and quality of life improvements (save anywhere) but the fact remains that Turok 2 was a disappointment compared to the original game and that is still the case here with these remasters. I’ve just never liked Turok 2 as well as the first (or third) one. That doesn’t mean this isn’t worth picking up, though. Turok 2 is still an interesting jaunt through oldschool N64 gaming philosophies and this remaster does a great job of keeping all of that intact. Buy it, but keep in mind Turok 2 is kind of a pain in the butt to play.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.