When Turok dropped on the Switch a few months ago, it was a pleasant reminder and a loving tribute to a curious piece of late nineties software that was worth going back to. Nightdive Studios did a phenomenal job of polishing the rough edges and removing the copious amounts of fog while leaving the game otherwise intact. Playing Turok in 2019 was an enjoyable history lesson, the main point of which was showing you how first-person shooters transitioned from the corridor-driven stylings of Doom to the more open nature of Halo. While perhaps not held in as high regard as, say, GoldenEye 007 or System Shock, Turok still has its place in the pantheon.
That being said, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is a further refinement of the original in terms of scope, accessibility and weaponry that also introduces the delight of shooting drills into the skulls of your enemies. Which is a good thing.
The game also has a cannier AI system. Whereas in the prequel most raptors and mercenaries would charge at you with reckless abandon, your foes in Turok 2 are a little more reactive to the situation at hand. They’re more apt to take cover and more ballsy when in groups, but they’ll also bail if they see the situation at hand is hopeless. It doesn’t seem like a lot today, but at the time it was revolutionary – and something Bungie evolved in their Halo games. The canny AI leads to a less mindless game than the first one, which in turn makes it more engaging.
Turok 2 also expands what it wants players to do beyond the “fetch the key” scenarios found in the original. You’ll have a multitude of tasks at hand, such as freeing prisoners, destroying gates or defending totems in what is very clearly an early rendition of horde mode. It’s nothing mind blowing, but it is helpful in immersing you in the world because these quests feel much more organic. And while were on the subject, it’s worth noting that the level design is leaps and bounds more interesting than before, with very distinct visual styles for each new area, as well as a more cohesive design that makes the necessary backtracking feel more fundamental to the experience at hand. You’re less likely to lose your bearings and be unable to find your way back, in other words. I enjoyed the jungles of the first game, but will admit to often getting lost – as well as being underwhelmed by a cavalcade of mostly similar-looking levels.
The only downer to this port for me is the lack of multiplayer. The Nintendo 64 fills me with fond memories of four-player battles in Mario Kart 64, GoldenEye and Diddy Kong Racing, and Turok 2 was part of the pantheon of games my friend, brother and I would bust out while waiting for the school bus to come. By today’s standards the Turok deathmatches may be nothing to shout about, but they had their merits and were a fun little frag fest. Even more puzzling is that the remastered version on PC does include multiplayer, replete with split-screen mode! This fact doesn’t deter me from recommending Turok 2: Seeds of Evil on Switch, but it’s definitely a downer.
I’m down for Nightdive’s MO of restoring and re-releasing lost classics: not just from a nostalgia standpoint, but because most of the games they’ve released thus far are still more than playable today. Turok 2 shows its years, and although it hasn’t aged quite as gracefully as fine wine, it’s still worth trying out because of its pedigree and because of the contributions it made to first-person shooters – and, perhaps, to gaming as a whole.
Turok 2 was developed by Nightdive Studios and is available on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One and Switch. We reviewed the Switch version.
Disclosure statement: review code for Turok 2 was provided by Nightdive Studios. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.
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