I walked into Buena Vista's booth with exceedingly high hopes. You see, I'm a bit of a Turok nut. I've read through the comics, thoroughly played through the first three games, and begrudgingly the fourth - a game whose existence I refuse to acknowledge.
Eventually I was lead into a room secluded from the rest where two cheery fellas from Propaganda, Turok's developer, greeted me. We exchanged small talk, and spoke a bit about the Turok series as a whole. They told me they wanted to bring the series back to its roots. This was good news. Turok for N64 was a genre defining game, not to mention loads of fun to play. On the other hand, Turok Evolution, was, well, not so good.
I liked what I heard, but I had to see it for myself. The next few minutes were spent discussing the story and other mechanics before the demo was shown. Players take on the role of Jospeh Turok, a former Black-Ops agent, who is now a member of an elite Special Forces team whose sole mission is to take out Kane, a rogue Turok, while surviving the dangers of a genetically altered planet. To make matters worse, Joseph's ship is shot down, forcing the team to proceed on foot while taking out Kane's henchmen and avoiding the ferocious creatures that lurk behind the dense foliage of the jungle.
I wasn't exactly blown away by the story. I think the whole 'Marine' thing and 'Ex Black-Ops' angle has been done to death, but whatever, I wanted to see the game. And as if Propaganda read my mind, the presentation began.
After a brief loading screen, the game switched to the first-person perspective of Joseph who was in the middle of a scolding from his Sergeant, voiced by Ron Perlman, who appears to be in every videogame these days, which is definitely not a bad thing. After exchanging a few more words, the scene ends and the game begins as Joseph's pistol is equipped. The two head down a mountain top, blasting enemies along the way, who duck for cover, react to their surroundings, and generally do their best to take you out. The animations were fluid, and the graphics were surprisingly good for a demo in such an early state.
After turning a few more corners, Joseph took out his knife, snuck up on an unsuspecting guard and took him out with ease. Once you're within range of the target, Joseph will actually bring his arm back in preparation for the attack, signifying that a stealth kill is indeed possible. But Propaganda was quick to point out the fact that stealth is an option, and not a necessity. Good, because stealth's not exactly my forte.
Moving on, Joseph and the Serge bust into an open area surrounded by the dense jungle. Unfortunately for them, the area is filled with ruthless henchmen hell-bent on putting a stop to the team's efforts. Quickly, the pistol was replaced by a machine gun, which was perfect for mowing down some of the enemies located on higher ledges throughout the area. I noticed at this point that there were no squad tactics; the team instead ducked around cover by themselves, which was just fine by me. Squad tactics don't belong in a Turok game. Turok games are about kicking ass with big weapons, not about telling soldiers where to go next. But anyway, where the hell were the dinosaurs? I asked myself. And again, it was as if Propaganda had read my mind.
A raptor leapt out of the foliage landing directly on an enemy. The result was brutal. The henchman screamed for his life as the raptor tore away at his face. The animation was unbelievably fluid and the screams from the downed soldier actually gave me chills. The raptor, complete with realistic muscle movement and detailed skin, took out another solider and then turned its attention to Joseph. As the raptor attacked, the screen pulled away showing Joseph from a 3rd person view. By mashing the buttons together, Joseph managed to stab the raptor, push it aside and blow it away with his submachine gun - very, very cool. By this time I was giddy with joy. The game looked great, had some neat ideas, solid animations and was a generally pleasing sight to behold.
As I continued to frantically jot down notes, a loud roar emanated from the dense jungle. A tyrannosaur was chasing a smaller dinosaur - a chase the ended up right in the middle of the playing field. Nice. Joseph ran back and around a bend while taking out a few enemies along the way. The Tyrannosaur then began picking off enemy soldiers one by one, sometimes chewing a bit first, other times swallowing whole.
The dinosaurs this time around aren't enemies per se, or at least not in the way they were in the first games. Instead the creatures act as neutral characters, going after both enemies and friends. It's a mechanic that works, and makes a whole lot of sense at the same time. In the first game you'd see dinosaurs and soldiers trying to stop you together, but dinosaurs act on instinct alone, and seeing the Tyrannosaur plough through a few baddies before even glancing at Joseph is something you've got to see.
Though the individual weapons are being kept secret for the time being, I did get a chance to see a few of the vehicles Joseph will be able to drive, including helicopter, tank and jeep-like vehicles, all equipped with their respective weaponry. Whether or not there will be vehicle-specific missions like in Evolution, is yet to be determined.
I walked into Buena Vista's booth with high hopes, and walked out with a sigh of relief. The game was obviously still in its early stages, with some details completely missing (the knife looked like a piece of pointed paper for example), but that's to be expected in a game this early. It looks like the Turok series is finally getting the makeover it deserves, and 2007 could not come any sooner. Turok is scheduled to be released for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles next year.