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Turok 3 Shadow of Oblivion - Retro: N64 Retro

Translated by naums on 12.03.2017

Turok 3, which was only released on N64, is the fourth part of the well-known Turok-series, which is basically dead of today. The game was developed by Acclaim Austin, who were also responsible for the prequel Seeds of Evil. Contrary to Turok 2 you will not be playing Joshua Fireseed, but Danielle or Joseph, whichever you choose. Both are somehow related to Joshua. Gameplay-wise they do not differ much. Sometimes their way will split up, for example the smaller Joseph can fit in smaller spaces, whereas Danielle can use her grappling hook to hook herself onto blue floating orbs in some levels. Joseph will find night vision goggles, where Danielle finds her grappling hook, so he can see in darker places. But how can Danielle manage to get through mandatory darker places? The developers where quite clever as they lit darker places a bit more in Danielles version, so the player can move through these areas without much of a problem. That's basically it with the differences between the two characters, except the weapon choices.

The weapons come in a standard version, which both characters have in common. Then there are improvements, like for the pistol there is the Mag60, which also existed in the previous game. Joseph has a noise-reduced pistol instead of the Mag60. On the long run (especially looking at the boss fights) it makes more sense to play with Danielle, as she gets the RPG (also known as rocket launcher), whereas Joseph won't. Joseph is more of a sniper guy with loads of bullet-weapons, and Danielle is more of an explosive expert. There are many weapons, which are really great. In spite of the mighty weapons, the game will become frustrating at parts, especially when you are nearly on the point to the next level, and an enemy take your last ten health points from you with a few shots. And this is the easiest difficulty level. The developers seem to have forgotten to fill the levels with health-packs. Ammunition will not be a problem, as that is normally handed out to you like nothing, but the health packs are quite rare and well hidden throughout the game.

The Turok of the previous Turok game, Joshua Fireseed, has a vision at the start of the game. He dreams of a small child, who is imprisoned by the helpers of a dark power, known as the Oblivion. He goes to rescue the child, activates a door, he thinks he can escape through. But the Oblivion already awaited him there and kill Joshua, after he finished of two of the goons. He wakes up. On the next day, he explains his dream to the twenty-seven year old Danielle. "The child, the child is the key". In the next night - well, at least the game makes it seem like the next night - a troop of enemies attacks the house through a portal. Joshua has already anticipated that and kills some of them, with a well aimed shot of a pistol. Joseph and Danielle hear the noise and look after Joshua. The latter has already armed a grenade and commands the two to leave the house immediately. They take the car and are surprised by a bigger monster, which knocks over the car in a graphically excellent looking sequence (oh, the irony). The car explodes, but both character manage to get out in time. Adon saves them and guides them to an oracle, which consists of robot-heads. I don't really know what to say about the oracle. I played the game to the end, and don't really know what these guys do. Well, you decide for one of the two characters and get onto your journey through the five levels. You will be joined by the other one in video sequences in the middle of the game, but you are on your own when playing the game.

The game is divided into five big levels, which in turn contain smaller load-areas - and I really mean small, as in only a few hundred metres. Saving somewhere in a level you will be placed back at the start of a loading-area when loading the game from that save. But you can save freely in the levels, but you will be reset to match loading-area borders. I don't find that a bad idea at all. Every loading point symbolises a check point and loading does not take long on the Nintendo 64. When you die before reaching the next area, you will be placed back at the start of this one. If you had less then 50 health points starting here, you will at least have 50 of them when you got reset. You will probably have trouble reaching the next check point with these limited health points, though. That is a result from the stupid spawn-system of the enemies. There are loads of places in the game, where there is an infinite amount of enemies. As soon as you kill one, the next one basically already stands in front of you. The biggest mistake you can do in the game is turn around - turn back and you will find another enemy who is attacking you. Reaching a specific point in an area there will not be more enemies spawning. Well, okay, the game is old. Give it a pass on this one. But even an old game will not get a free pass on spawning enemies in my face. The enemies will hit you nearly all the time, whereas you are fighting both the enemies and the awkward control scheme and in turn will not manage to hit anything at first. Lucky us, there is some limited sort of auto aim so you will hit sometimes.

In addition to that the N64 is quite visibly not able to handle the game. It drops frames, sometime the game slows down to a crawl. This was quite rare, but it really messes up your playing, doesn't it? You cannot expect more than 20 frames per second at any point in time. If an enemy comes closer, or if you shoot a boss, who then lights up, the game really starts dropping frames. When shooting rockets, which fly quite fast, then they might fly through the floor, as the N64 does not check collision in the moment when the rocket would hit the ground, so it just flies though. That's really unsettling, when you would have killed several enemies with one rocket. Sometimes grenades don't appear from the grenade launcher or the sound is missing. I had a buzzing sound in one level, which only went silent when I entered the pause screen and unpaused the game again. The game crashed two time while playing, once in the Multiplayer, which I will address later on, and once while fighting the boss enemy. I had to replay the whole boss-sequence again. I suspect the game to be released a bit to early without testing the game enough.

A special part of the N64 is the Memory Expansion Pack, which allowed for better graphics in some game, like Turok 3. Gamers without the Expansion Pack had only the option to play the game in a low resolution. This will result in a quite blurry experience for everything that is not right in front of your face. Textures and environments are a bit uglier. So I recommend getting the Expansion Pack to play Turok 3 in a higher resolution, even if the pack was only the desperate try of Nintendo to extent the life of the Nintendo 64 a bit. We talk about the year 2000, the Sega Dreamcast was already out. So the game was basically overlooked by many, which is a pity. It could not quite live up to the high expectations of many gamers of the time and it came in a different and more linear style than the previous games in the series, but is was not a bad game at all. They would have done well with another month of testing and bugfixing.

The multiplayer part of the game, which can be played with up to four players or you and up to three bots, is quite fun, for about five minutes. Well, that's being unfair. But the AI is really stupid here. They basically do not fight each other, but only you. Pity. There are loads of game modes, for example the 'Monkey Tag'-mode known from the previous game, or the 'Color Tag'-mode. The latter involves killing an enemy, who will then respawn in you team. You will score points for the amount of enemies killed for the winning team. The maps are small and about as exciting as the ones from Rage Wars. That's nothing too bad, but the maps are not really good here. Playing alone with three bots you will not have much enjoyment, even with the rich options you have before starting the multiplayer party. You can control the handicap of a character - pity there is no control for the bot-intelligence. You also can set the length of a match, the amount of points for winning, allowed weapons and starting weapons and the map. You can even set gravity levels and the amount of health points of each player, and the maximal amount of ammunition you can carry - which makes the game really special. If Acclaim had worked a few more months on the multiplayer it could have become really great, but the stupid AI ruins everything.
Rating:
Mixed Bag
Mixed Bag
Text written on 26.02.2014
Fazit von naums:
There is only one thing left for me to say: everyone who liked Turok should give the game a try. The solo-campaign is about four hours long, quite well designed, if a bit unfair at times, but you can beat it. In comparison to modern shooters like Battlefield 3 Turok 3 has gotten the short straw. But gameplay-wise and fun-wise it kicks Battlefield out of the water. You fight you way through many new levels, which are designed great and you will even revisit the beginning area from Turok Dinosaur Hunter - I like. Pity, that the game never received ports to other systems. So: get a Nintendo 64, the Expansion Pack and play the game. I really liked playing the game - after a short period of time working out the control scheme I managed to beat enemies. Give the game a try and do not expect to much from the game. It's the first game in the Turok series which is not cut in Germany, but there is also no German translation. But if you are reading this text, this will not matter to you, will it?

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