Matt relived some of his favourite FPS multiplayer maps earlier in the week, and his list contained a lot of the normal movers and shakers on the FPS scene that you would expect. But it got me thinking about FPS titles that often don’t get as much attention, which brings me nicely to this week’s BFTP – Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. Introduced to the gaming world via the Nintendo 64, Turok the character (and original protagonist) actually started out in comics as far back as the 1950s, but didn’t grace the console scene until Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in 1997. That game received positive reviews, and quickly resulted in a sequel appearing a year later – Turok 2: Seeds of Evil.
But what became apparent very quickly, was that this wasn’t just a quick reboot to cash in on an emerging successful franchise. - Turok 2 planned on bringing much more to the party.
The premise of the game is you play as the “Turok” – the one charged with maintaining the balance of the Lost Lands – attempting to overcome the threat of The Primagen, a creature which is sealed inside a space craft by numerous Energy Totems. Turok’s task is to clear out the enemies that the Primagen has sent to destroy the Totems, and then slay the Primagen itself to rid the world of evil. He is helped along this path by a woman named Adon who serves as a guide, and provides an introduction and the objectives required for each of the game’s levels. Adon herself does not affect the gameplay directly but exists in the game’s hub area in between each of the levels, leaving Turok as a lone gun against the hordes of enemies.
One of the key ways in which this game differs from other FPSs of the time is that Turok 2 was based on a few large missions rather than numerous missions that could be completed in 5-10 minutes, in say, Goldeneye 64. When you couple this with restricted save points that were spaced out, it meant that the game presented a different type of challenge for the player. This was a challenge you need to be committed to undertaking, not something you could necessarily just pick up and play for 5 minutes. The level of difficulty was also quite high, and could be unforgiving in sections, which could result in lost progress if you died. It was frustrating but rewarding – in the way games like Dark Souls can be – with the game giving the most back when the player figured out tactics for weapons and enemies alike.
And that brings us nicely to the weapons in the game. The game had a big fat 18 rating stuck on it and for good reason. The weapons were not only varied – from simple bows and pistols right up to plasma cannons and even an area-destroying nuke weapon – but as well as this, the impact they had on the enemies in terms of blood and gore was put in the game, as well as enemies reacting differently depending on where they were shot. The most famous weapon from Turok 2 was undoubtedly the Cerebral Bore. As the name suggests the player would aim it towards an enemy, and then an orb would shoot out and into the enemy’s brain, and then after a couple of seconds, it explodes and decapitates the enemy. There was nothing more satisfying to witness in the late 90s – it almost justified the £70 price tag the game had - and even now it is a bloodthirst-quenching experience that you simply have to see.
Visually, the game was also critically acclaimed at the time and this was something that could be further enhanced by using the N64 Expansion Pak but was not required. It meant that despite the grey distance fog that was inevitable in FPSs of the time was still present, but was allowed for a large field of vision than its predecessor. The Expansion Pak also sharpened up the visuals of the character models in game which added to its visual superiority of the time. Being one of the first games to use the Expansion Pak, it showed what could be achieved through successful implementation, and paved the way for its use in future games.
FPSs in the late 90s tended to focus more on the single campaign than perhaps exists nowadays, and Turok 2 was no different. However there was a multiplayer option in the game that was competent. As well as the usual Free-For-All and Team Deathmatch modes, there was also a new mode bought to the table know as Frag Tag which saw one player become a monkey and their task being to get to a specific part of the map without being killed – which result in failure and having to start again. Success meant that the monkey switched to a new player, with a new target destination. Certainly a random inclusion into the multiplayer options, but with 3 friends around a TV, there’s something quite satisfying about killing the monkey sitting next you or being the victorious simian who has defied the odds of everyone else in the room.
In all honesty, you will probably look to other FPSs of the N64 generation for your multiplayer fix, but as a single-player campaign, the game stood up very well and spurred numerous sequels since then. The series itself has fallen from grace a little in its future iterations – they’ve never quite lived up to the high standards set by Turok 2. But if anything, this fact simply serves to epitomise why you ought to get your hands on this game if you can and give it a blast – it’s the best Turok adventure there ever was and it was an excellent example of FPS single player campaigns of its time.