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Acclaim Studios Austin

Turok: Evolution

1997. The most "mature" experience enjoyed by Nintendo 64 owners had been Mario's come-hither butt-stomp. Enter Acclaim's Turok. Created by the company's subsidiary in Austin, Texas, the original Turok registered a violent, bloody shakeup in the N64's kid-friendly library, and raised the bar for technological achievement in console First Person Shooters.

Five years and 2.5 sequels later, Acclaim is ready to deliver its beastly Turok: Evolution to the GameCube and other present-generation consoles. Acclaim promises more blood, more bones, and naturally, more dinos.

Turok: Evolution is an ambitious first person shooter featuring interactive environments, a wide assortment of weapons, and objective-based levels. Tal'Set, the protagonist returning from Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, mounts a Pteranodon for new third-person flight levels. Evolution, described to Nintendojo as a "Turok: Episode I," is a prequel set shortly before the events of the original Turok game.


Acclaim's E3 demo opened with a full motion video clip of an armored dinosaur warrior taking an ax to the head. It represents Evolution well: beauty, whimsy, and abrupt gory violence.

If for nothing else, Turok is infamous for putting the most obscene and incendiary weapons into the hands of players. Each weapon has at least a second function: the blunt end of Tal'Set's traditional ax can be used as a club; he can fire both normal and explosive arrows from his bow. The weapons range in firepower from the ax to the brand new 18 barrel mini gun, and on to the obligatory thermal nuclear device -- complete with an awesome fifty-foot mushroom cloud. In our interview with him, lead designer David Dienstbier revealed two other still-unofficial weapons, both of which we'll refrain from identifying here out of respect to the developers. They both sound intimidating.

Perhaps inheriting too much from its predecessors, Evolution pays a price for its technical wizardry: an often painfully slow framerate. Acquire a new weapon; the game stutters. Fire a weapon; the game stutters. Jump, take a hit, or confront more than one or two enemies, and the game stutters. Sixty-five percent of the game, including the flying levels, will be in exterior environments. This is both a concern -- the exterior levels weigh heavily on the hardware; and a reassurance -- that they'd commit so much of the game to the exterior exhibits their confidence.

At E3 2002, Turok was playable on all three major systems; it was perhaps least glitchy on the Xbox. However, we were assured that the GameCube version will be "particle for particle, polygon for polygon" identical to the Xbox release. The framerate issues should be resolved by then.

Word on the Street

Since its debut in a hushed and darkened private booth at E3 2001, Turok: Evolution has gathered momentum as one of the most anticipated first person shooters on the console release lists. This year's unbalanced showing probably won't affect that hype negatively: the good far outweighs the bad, and the bad will likely be remedied between now and the global release this September.

From the Horse's Mouth

  • Ground-breaking Squad Dynamics System (S.D.S.) creates incredibly realistic enemy and allied squad AI.
  • Entirely new game engine built to take full advantage of the next-generation hardware platforms.
  • All-new weapons including Variable Payload Cruise Missiles, Gravity Disrupter Beams, and the Swarm Bore each with unique traits and damage.
  • Advanced FPS artificial intelligence.
  • Flight sequences enable players to soar through the skies on a winged Pteranodon.
  • Scripted event sequences that bring the world to life with stunning detail.
  • 32 different types of prehistoric and indigenous life with frightening realism.
  • Destructible objects and environments: shoot down trees onto enemies and collapse massive rock spires onto dinosaurs.
  • Stealth and action based gameplay directed by context-sensitive, mission-based sequences.
  • Fantastic multiplayer fun developed by a dedicated team of designers, programmers and artists.
  • Lush, living jungle environments: plants move as dinosaurs brush against them and trees sway in the wind.


Turok: Evolution is perhaps the most audacious and visceral of upcoming action titles. But it still has a way to go. Standing still, the game is beautiful; but unless the engine -- running mostly at a clunky chug on all three demoed systems -- can be tweaked to a more playable framerate, the pretty textures and detailed models will be for naught. A beautiful, grotesque action title too technologically ambitious to be playable is, in the final analysis, unplayable.

Due to the confidence of the development team and their track record, it's a good bet that Turok: Evolution's shortcomings will be sufficiently remedied by release. It's improved in every way over its predecessors, incorporating ideas unused from the original game and set in that game's more organic (and popular) dino-hunt ambiance.



word on the street

press release notes


Staff Avatar Gordon Distin
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"In the room, the women come and go, talking of Miyamoto."

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