After events in both San Francisco and London, we've seen a fair bit of Turok in recent weeks. Said events focused on Turok's multiplayer and single-player content, respectively, so when we were invited to visit Propaganda Games in Vancouver earlier this month, we weren't entirely sure what there was left to see. There was plenty, as it turns out. Not only did we get to see a lot more of the single-player campaign and to play on previously unseen multiplayer maps, but we were also afforded our first look at the game's co-op and "wargames" modes. We should also mention that this was our first opportunity to see Turok running on the PlayStation 3, and we're pleased to report that it's practically indistinguishable from the Xbox 360 version.
First up was a guided tour that took in levels and locales from all over the single-player campaign. Without wishing to give too much away about Turok's plot, it's clear that Joseph Turok (that's you) and a number of his colleagues from the Whiskey Company elite commando team have become separated after crash-landing on a planet where they're supposed to be going after a guy named Roland Kane. Funded by the Mendel-Gruman Corporation, Kane has established a number of bases and research facilities on the planet and also commands the sizeable military force tasked with protecting them. Turok and his colleagues become separated as a result of the aforementioned crash and so, as you progress through the game, you'll be reunited with (and maybe even lose) some of them.
You won't be able to control your colleagues in Turok, but having played through a couple of levels in which we were accompanied by up to three of them, we can report that their behavior wasn't problematic in the slightest. Our colleagues stayed back and out of sight when we were moving quietly through tall grass en route to a stealthy knife kill, for example, but were quick to rush to our defense anytime we came under attack from a Mendel-Gruman operative or a dinosaur. We also noticed that our colleagues were pretty useful when, in a level taken from relatively early in the campaign, we assaulted a small Mendel-Gruman equipment area. Our guys certainly weren't so effective that we had nothing to do, but they performed well in their support roles and, for the most part, looked to be taking cover quite intelligently when they came under fire. The artificial intelligence of the Mendel-Gruman forces appears comparable to that of the friendly characters, and we were particularly impressed by the believable way in which they reacted after stumbling upon the body of one of their comrades that we'd silently taken out with a knife just a few minutes earlier--almost looking panicked as they alerted each other and set about searching for the killer.
Turok wouldn't be Turok without plenty of dinosaurs, of course, and while checking out single-player content we had plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with a number of different species. We won't pretend that we remember even half of the dinos' names, but their varied behaviors made a lasting impression, and you might be surprised to learn that the huge Tyrannosaurus rex in the aptly titled "Mother Superior" level isn't necessarily the one that we're most worried about. No, that honor goes to the small "lurker" dinosaurs that we were introduced to toward the end of our demo. The lurkers like to hang out on vertical rock surfaces and on trees, where they wait to leap at unsuspecting passersby. Fortunately, the lurkers aren't too difficult to spot from a distance if you know where to look, and can be picked off with a sniper rifle or the bow before they even know that you're in the area. Get too close, though, and you'll find that they're a formidable foe, largely because they're extremely fast and aren't shy about attacking in numbers.
Other dinosaurs that we encountered during our time with the single-player portion of Turok included raptors, who roam in packs and are extremely protective of their nests, and a number of different herbivore species that have no interest in getting into a fight unless they're provoked. Predictably, the most memorable encounter was with the aforementioned T. rex, which we had tracked back to her nest after she made off with a colleague. The ensuing battle took place in a forest clearing that served as an arena of sorts and in which there were very few places for us to take cover. Rocks and large exposed tree roots afforded temporary respite from the T. rex's relentless attacks, but no area offered complete protection; and while simply standing still might've worked in Jurassic Park, we didn't feel inclined to try it in Turok. The T. rex is the closest thing we've seen to a boss enemy in Turok, incidentally, and we're told that there are at least three or four such encounters in the campaign.
After checking out several different single-player levels we were afforded our first look at Turok's cooperative mode, which supports up to four players online. Rather than simply tasking you and your friends with playing through levels lifted straight from the campaign, Turok's co-op mode presents you with challenges and locales that are based on, but not the same as, those in the single-player game. For example, we're told that co-op maps will typically be bigger than their campaign counterparts and will be designed to facilitate squad tactics via new paths and areas that simply aren't available when playing solo. Co-op levels will typically task your team with completing multiple objectives and, although there won't be multiple difficulty levels available, we can confirm after watching testers and other Propaganda staff play that they're designed to challenge even full teams of four skilled players.
The level that we watched the testers attempting was titled "Breaking the Sword," and was set almost exclusively inside a large futuristic-looking structure that, among other things, housed a nuclear reactor. The goal of the mission was to instigate a reactor core meltdown, but there were plenty of other objectives that had to be completed before that could happen. There were enemy forces to eliminate (of course), there were control panels to hack, and there were blast doors to open, to name but a few. Hacking, at least in the version of Turok that we were playing, required just a single button press rather than a minigame of any kind. Turok types at a rate of only around four words a minute, though, so it's a lengthy process and one that you'll only be able to complete if you have teammates watching your back. Another noteworthy feature of the co-op mode is the fact that your team will share a single pool of lives, so just one lackluster player could potentially ruin it for everyone. Checkpoints scattered throughout each co-op level will replenish a number of lives and bring dead players back into the game as necessary, but we get the impression that these will be few and far between.
After watching the testers almost beat the aforementioned co-op level we were invited to join them for some multiplayer games. We've already covered most of Turok's multiplayer content in some detail, but this was the first time that we'd had an opportunity to check out the team-based "wargames" mode. It's not clear how many wargames levels will feature in Turok, but each of them will be quite different--tasking two opposing teams with being the first to complete an objective or series of objectives. For example, the "power struggle" map that we played on featured three large communication towers that teams could claim as their own by hacking computers at the base of each one. The winning team in this particular wargame is the first to control all three towers simultaneously, which isn't easy given the demands of defending two locations while attacking a third.
While it's still too early for us to formulate any strong opinions on Turok, we're certainly looking forward to doing just that once we get our hands on a more complete version of the game that we can play through at our own pace. Expect more information on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Turok, which is also headed to the PC sometime in the spring, early next year.