So, now with the dreadful 007: Nightfire put out of its misery, the next game that came up on the Decision Wheel (name not final) was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. This was one chosen by me because I wanted to pad the Wheel with options until there were enough people requesting stuff that it wasn’t necessary. I also was itching to try this game for a while, so now felt like a good time as any.

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The version I played is the recent remaster on Steam, co-developed and published by Nightdive Studios. Nightdive’s been hard at work re-releasing older DOS and Windows 95-era games and making them work in modern machines (or at least putting a DOSBox wrapper with it). Most notably is reviving the long-dormant System Shock franchise, and even trying their best to bring No One Lives Forever back from the dead, among other notable revivals. Naturally it makes sense to bring back Turok.

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Of course there would be a literal maze in a game like this…

The Turok game franchise is mostly known as a console series, where the main games were on Nintendo 64. However, the first Turok as well as its sequel Seeds of Evil did get PC releases, but rather than reverse engineer the game to work on modern machines like System Shock 2 or Aliens vs. Predator Classic 2000, the game’s assets — models, maps, sounds, and music — were ported to a proprietary engine known as the “KEX” engine. The engine is the same engine that handled the Doom 64 source port known as Doom 64 EX and even stuff like Powerslave EX. Basically this game is a mix of old and new: It’s like the console game, but not an exact port of the PC game. This might piss off some purists, but not me.

This game is also significant because around 1997-98, there still wasn’t a first-person shooter that console-focused gamers could call their own. There have been attempts (Zero Tolerance on the Genesis, Disruptor on the PlayStation, even the famed Powerslave/Exhumed  for the Sega Saturn), but none of them were big hits, forcing people to settle with Yet Another Port of Doom to satiate their shooter urges.

But Turok, along with GoldenEye 007 released in the same year, were the one-two punch that showed to the console gaming audience that YES, you can have your own first-person shooter and have them be GOOD!

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I never thought I’d be fighting a robotic praying mantis, but Turok scratched that itch.

It’s interesting to realize that Turok is actually based on a licensed property going back to the 1960s. The only reason the games exist is because Acclaim (the original publisher of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter) bought Valiant Comics in the mid ’90s, who had their own run of Turok around that time. It’s also why it’s $20 on Steam, because Turok is still owned by an existing company. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it was a headache for Nightdive to get this released, much like their other efforts.

So the two games that redefined how first-person shooters were handled on home consoles? Both of them were based on licensed properties. Granted, it really wasn’t until Halo and later, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did the modern console FPS become what it is now, but we have to give credit to Turok and GoldenEye for jump-starting it.

Notice I haven’t talked about the story. If there is one, it’s one of those “relegated to the manual” kind of stories. What I can figure out is Turok shoots dinosaurs, finds keys, and stops evil people with Hummers and laser weapons from taking over his land. This was before we started getting more story-driven action games like Half-Life, so I can forgive it for its bare-bones plot to hunt dinosaurs.

The game itself is nothing super special. Enemies are fairly dumb, boss fights are goofy if not particularly outstanding, and having to make constant leaps of faith are a bit of an annoyance. Even having random points in the levels where you save rather than a dedicated “save anywhere” option may seem baffling for some shooter veterans.

It does have a Hexen-esque exploration system, which lead to fairly confusing areas (especially when finding keys to make progress), which is probably the most interesting thing about it. A fair share of the elements of this game are a good indication of ’90s shooter tropes, and I can tolerate it because of its nostalgia; but it’s definitely harder to go back to unless you remember it fondly. I bet this version is more enjoyable than the N64 original.

The first part was recorded shortly after bailing out of 007: Nightfire. Later streams were done after the holidays, and were the first ones I did completely solo as opposed to having a co-host. Watch as I babble on about inane junk, sometimes the same thing more than once! 😛

PART ONE (originally streamed on December 23, 2016):

PART TWO (originally streamed on January 7, 2017):

PART THREE (originally streamed on January 14, 2017):

Budget Shooter Theater is a stream series where I intend to play (and finish) as many first person shooters, third person shooters, and light gun rail shooters as I can. Occasionally joining me will be guests. Watch as I show off my amazing skills and shooting dudes and monsters in the face.

This happens at http://twitch.tv/tonicbh (almost) weekly. If you wanna request a game for a future Budget Shooter Theater stream, feel free to leave a comment on this post or contact me on Twitter (@TonicBH). The master list is here, though you can request any game not on the list. Though doing this may mean your request may not be played immediately. 😛

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007: Nightfire (PC version)

The Master List!

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Christopher Brookmyre’s Bedlam: The Game

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