So, that's the aiming, the screen blur, knife attacks and knock downs - four things that combine to really damage a solid game - but there's another, even more damaging flaw: the checkpoint system. It still baffles me how game designers can't implement fair checkpoints and how game after game we're forced to play through the same sections over and over again just because one section towards the end proves to be difficult. Turok has these in spades. Early on you're forced to replay a complete elevator section (including a part where you get off to shoot out an electrical hatch operation console) over and over again unless you make it to the top without dying. Even on standard Normal difficulty this is hard, but on anything trickier it's infuriating. And these moments keep on appearing throughout the game.
What's sad is how good Turok could have been. The environments are large and allow for a range of approaches, the dinosaur-on-man action is excellent and the range of weapons on offer is pretty good (although not nearly as impressive as Turok games of old). Despite its problems it's still an exciting game to play, often invoking memories of classic PC FPS Alien VS Predator, with the rushing dinosaurs and swaying grass making for some truly heart stopping moments. While the storyline relies on there being other humans on the planet, had the game been simply about your squad surviving against dinosaurs the end result could have been far better.
There are genuinely great moments, like your first fight with a big dino in an arena-like area. Moments like this make you think the game is going to improve from then on, but it just doesn't. You'll encounter the above problems over and over again, and so much darkness that you'll laugh when one of your team mates states quite seriously that "It's starting to get dark". The fact that you've been fighting through dinos in near pitch black lighting for the past 15 minutes seems to have passed him by.
Multiplayer game modes are of course included, with up to 16 players able to take part in competitive matches for solo and team play. What's on offer is solid, but the fiddly aiming and some considerable lag make Turok's online modes something you're unlikely to play all that often. The co-op missions carry the most enjoyment, offering you unique levels not found in the single-player campaign. While the gameplay isn't suddenly transformed during these levels, playing with three other real players does elevate a few of the problems, simply because you're able to tackle groups of enemies more successfully.
Built on the Unreal Engine 3 you'd expect Turok to look great, and it does... in parts. When you're looking out over a large landscape, the light hitting the trees beautifully and dinosaurs running amok in the valley below, it's a great looking game. Other than the odd moment where the dinos animate a little strangely the beasts look great too, but too much of the game is bland. All the indoor sections are awfully generic and at times the lighting is so subdued it's almost impossible to see what's going on. Still, seeing all the sights is one of the main reasons to play through the game, and it's only really some fairly regular slowdown mars the overall presentation. Audio work is a bit patchy, with some excellent surround sound but not so great voice work.
So, Turok isn't an awful game, it's just an unbelievably frustrating one. Try as I might to like it, the game almost insisted that I didn't. Every good moment is countered by at least a handful of near soul destroying problems and every stunning piece of scenery is blighted by too much darkness and an erratic frame rate. A selection of solid multiplayer game modes aren't enough to make up for a poorly put together game, relegating the latest Turok to a league it simply shouldn't have found itself in. It's definitely better than Evolution, but as reinventions go we wanted a whole lot more.