By Sam Coles:
If you know me personally or on Twitter you would know I’m a big critic of the N64, that’s because in my opinion not many games from that system have aged well. I own the system and I criticise it because I love it, but I’m not blinded by nostalgia, as most games on the N64 have framerate and control issues. What if I told a studio are going out of their way to bring some N64 classics to modern hardware? Then stop what you’re doing because that is exactly what Nightdive Studios have done with Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil and it is amazing how they have modernised a game just by improving the controls, framerate, resolution and draw distance. I’m glad I got a chance to revisit these games because the last time we heard anything from Turok was a decade ago with the reboot back in 2008.
The stories of Turok generally revolve around a Native American that takes on the Monika of Turok killing dinosaurs and aliens, the first game didn’t really worry itself with a plot unlike the second game. Turok 2 sees you travelling through time to protect energy totems from humanoid dinosaurs that want nothing more than the extinction of the human race. Again it’s not the most in-depth plot, but this was a first person shooter from the 90’s which had simple set ups like Doom where it was merely here are some demons kill them all until the credits roll.
Gameplay is like most shooters from the era, you go around collecting weapons, keys and shoot anything that moves. However the levels in Turok 1 and 2 are large in scale especially the sequel, in Turok 2 there are not many levels however they are large in scale with new items to pick up when you obtain new abilities which add replay value. In the original N64 versions the way forward could be obtuse, fortunately in the second game they added a hint system which I know can be seen as cheating but they don’t show up until you’re somewhat close to the objective. My biggest gripe with the original games is that you could be at the end of the level and you’ve missed an objective far back in the level, where you would have to backtrack.
Let’s talk about controls, and I have to say they are fantastic as I’ve said the controls on the N64 are abysmal the addition of dual analogue controls are a welcome change to these games because you can play them like actually shooters. I found myself darting around levels, blowing chunks out of my foes, instead of playing it slow and methodically like a survival horror game due to the twitchy camera movements of the N64. Aiming is very smooth and I found that I was consistently getting headshots even at long distances; the controls in these versions of games make the original obsolete.
They have improved graphical assets, such as smoothing out textures, water detail, added bloom, framerate and draw distance. Let’s talk about the framerate, Turok 1 and 2 are finally playable the original versions of the games suffered with performance issues especially the Turok 2 as it was stretching what the N64 could do, which made it worse with the high detail mode. The games now run at beautifully smooth 60 frames per second and I can never go back to the originals, they are just glorified collector’s items in my game collection now as this is the best way to play the games. Draw distance has been improved so you can now see more than five feet in front of you which was a huge issue in the first game, and you have a better understanding of your environment in The Death Marshes in Turok 2 which was a big black void on the N64.
Overall these remasters left me with a constant grin on my face; it reminded me of a time where games could be about the absurd rather than anything grounded or serious. If you’re looking for a good and ridiculous shooter for your Xbox One, you can’t go wrong with these games especially Turok 2. I would highly recommend grabbing these games!