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volume 1, issue 32

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Off the Shelf:
Turok 2






By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

Title: Turok 2
Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Iguana
Average Price: $40 (PC)


f you’ll recall, back in the early days of the Nintendo 64, there were only so many titles, and one of the ones N64 owners loved to point to as an example of a great game, was the original Turok. And it was a pretty decent game…for a console system, it looked great, it had some cool death animations, it was gratuitously violent, and it had some of the coolest weapons anyone had ever seen. The PC port of Turok was one of the first titles to require a 3D accelerator, and is still used as a D3D benchmark. Remembering back a ways, my review of the PC version criticized its "cut n’ paste" porting job…it felt like the game ran in an emulator, rather than actually taking advantage of the PC hardware at its disposal.

Well, I’ll give Iguana (and Acclaim) some credit where it’s due, as Turok 2 feels a lot more like a real PC game. It still has a clunky front-end, no question about it, but it’s been noticeably de-clunkified (is that a word?) for the sequel. Also, they score some brownie points for having one of those pretty GameSpy Lite programs accessible from the menu system (hit "multiplayer" and it spawns).

Which of course, brings me to the most significant addition to the Turok series…multiplayer. The N64 version had multiplayer DM but even on my 27 inch television four people have a tough time playing in those little windows. So it’s pretty cool that the PC version has full 16 player multiplayer. Finding servers to play on can be a bit of a struggle, as while it’s very easy to set one up, there just don’t seem to be that many listed in GameSpy. At my last server count, there were 20 servers, almost half of which were actually hosted by Acclaim, and of those 20…only two actually had any players in them. Ouch. I played Turok 2 deathmatch a few times, and it’s fun, to be sure, but it’s just not a serious deathmatch game. The weapons, while entertaining as all heck, and certainly suited to the chaotic single-player game (more on this in a sec), just didn’t adapt well to deathmatch. Oh well…I’ve still got Shogo and Starsiege: TRIBES to keep me happy (not to mention Quake 1).

One feature that deserves pointing out is the inclusion of Microsoft’s Text-to-Speech converter. It’s unique, to say the least…basically what this does is convert any text that’s said in multiplayer into spoken words. What’s totally crazy about it, is that the voice sounds something like HAL mixed with the computer in War Games. I’m glad they put it in, as it makes Turok multiplayer stand out in one way, at least.

The single player game is much like the first Turok, focusing on "find the key" style levels, and the occasional jump-puzzle. This was okay for the first one, but I really was hoping for more from the sequel…we’re living in the post Half-Life days now, and I’m afraid standard "find the key" levels simply ain’t cutting it anymore. Turok 2 has some particularly frustrating levels as well…it’s not at all uncommon to have an entire level cleared out of enemies, and still be hunting around for that damn key you missed. Enemies eventually respawn after a time, but how much fun is it to kill the same guys over and over again?

The best feature from the first game has been carried over, I’m happy to report, however. Yep, the weapons, while not the exact same ones from the first Turok, are extremely fun, and like the first game, absolutely over-the-top. The best example of this has got to be the Cerebral Bore, which is so entertaining, I could watch it all day. Here’s the concept: the Cerebral Bore fires a drill (yes, a drill) that hunts down an enemy’s head, and well…bores into it. The screams, combined with the insane amount of blood that splatters everywhere (this game’s almost as gory as Blood 2) make this one of the most entertaining weapons ever conceived.

Other cool weapons include the Nuke and Tek Bow, both of which are beefed up versions of their predecessors in the original Turok. The Tek Bow works the same here as it did before...fire it, wait a few seconds, and watch the bad guys’ heads blow off. Now that’s a good time, if ever I heard one. The Nuke is just as crazy as it was before…only prettier this time around, and more dangerous, as it has a larger blast radius. Of the new weapons, many are forgettable…there’s over 20 weapons here, so this is pretty understandable. They’re all cool to watch, which is pretty much the idea behind them. In multiplayer…well, they’re still cool to watch, but they aren’t especially well balanced.

The Turok 2 engine is slightly better than its predecessor…it’s much more colorful, if nothing else. Fog is still a major issue, which after playing Delta Force and Starsiege: TRIBES really feels awkward. The enemies are all exquisitely animated, and most of the fun in the game comes from watching their deaths (as the levels, as I said above, are pretty ho-hum at best). Turok 2’s best visual feature, however, is its incredible ammounts of gore. If you played the original and couldn’t imagine anything gorier, you’ll be amazed by what they managed to squeeze out.

The bottom line with Turok 2, is really a question of what you want in a game. It’s a solid overall game, but it has some really giant flaws, and a multiplayer DM that’s only mildly entertaining. But, if console-style level design, and you get a kick out of big explosions n’ lots of blood, you’ll dig Turok 2.

- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief of loonygames. It stands to reason, therefore, that this is all his fault.


Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. This edition of Top Shelf is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is a majorly hostile gesture.