If you’ve just been aching to get your hands on Propaganda Game’s upcoming Turok title, the wait is finally over. Even though the game doesn’t ship until February 5th, a demo of the game is available in the latest issue of the Official Xbox Magazine. This game is not necessarily a sequel but rather a reboot of a franchise that was desperately in need of some fresh innovation, and hopefully Propaganda games will end up delivering. In the game you play as Joseph Turok, a member of the FNG military unit that has been sent to another planet in search of a war criminal. As luck would have it, the planet happens to be infested with dinosaurs.
The demo begins with you and your fellow squad mate Slade as you traverse your way through a dark system of caves, and it doesn’t take very long for a multitude of beautifully animated Raptors hurl themselves upon you. One of the things that the game’s developer Propaganda, has stressed is their focus on the more primal side of Turok. This involves taking down dinosaurs with your bare hands, and it actually proves to be more effective than using weapons. You equip the knife by pressing down on the directional pad, and pulling the right trigger will allow Turok to wrestle and stab the beasts into submission. If things go awry and you end up getting thrown on your back, a fierce mini game ensues where you will have to mash away on the triggers in order to overpower the massive jaws locked around your throat.
Taking down dinosaurs in this manner is definitely fun to watch, but the mechanic could be a bit more in depth since it doesn’t involve much more than pulling the right trigger and watching Turok’s knife go to town. Eventually, after fighting off a few more raptors, you and Slade will make your way out of the caves and into the jungle. This environment really shows off the graphics of Turok, and since it’s an Unreal 3 powered game we should expect them to look good right? The game features a very lush and detailed environment with long blades of grass that move with the wind. Everything here feels and looks very much alive.
This is the only way to kill a dinosaur if you’re a real man!
However, you won’t be able to stare at the pretty flowers for long. A cut scene points out that the area ahead of you is littered with enemy troops, and Slade tasks you with taking out as many as you can using stealth. It’s time to equip the knife again and go to work. Players must use those tall blades of grass as cover to get close to a soldier and unleash a stealth kill sequence that shows Turok bury his blade into their chest and kicking the body to the ground (not all that subtle for a stealth kill). At this point, we took out the bow (pressing up on the D pad) thinking it could score us some long distance stealth kills, but ended up tripping the alarm and causing lead to fly.
Equipping your other weapons is also done through the D-pad by either pressing left or right to bring up a menu that makes it easy to select what you want. Players also have the option to dual wield. Each weapon has a secondary function, which can be used with the right bumper. Grenades on the left, and if you’re not dual wielding, the left trigger allows you to sight in. In the demo you are given the shotgun with flairs as a secondary function and an SMG with attachable silencer.
The reloading function is mapped to the X button, and the A button acts as the jump button that and can also enables you to dive left or right. Unfortunately, it’s within Turok’s aiming system that we found things getting a little uncomfortable, as the sensitivity appeared a little too high, making it easy to pan past an enemy we were trying to get a bead on. Hopefully, in the final version the aiming system will be tightened up.
Unfortunately this flame thrower is not in the demo
The enemy AI, on the other hand, has no trouble at all getting a bead on you, and they are pretty good shots. To make things even more intense, some more raptors decided to stop by and join the fun. We were able to keep them focused on our enemies by deploying flares which attracts the raptors, and occupy the enemy soldiers with the deadly beasts allowing us to swoop in for the kill. While the enemy AI was effective at a distance, things definitely got worse up close. They didn’t really do much to avoid our fire, and basically just stood there waiting for death.
The demo did offer some exciting moments when taking down your first dinosaur with only a knife, and the jungle level offered a good deal of freedom in deciding how to approach your enemies. However, the final game is going to have to show a bit more incentive to consider itself above the rest of the FPS crowd. The aiming system definitely felt off, but this is nothing that can’t be adjusted in the settings menu. However, an overall tighter feel would be better. Also, when it came to fighting the raptors by the time we had taken down our eighth one, watching the attack animations became a little less magical. It remains to be seen if Turok will be able to hold itself up as a full game and break the curse of poor quality that the series has only known for so many years. Hunting season opens February 5, 2008.