Turok 3 Hands-On

The version of Turok 3 we played was said to be 80 percent complete, so the developers still have a chance to improve the frame rate and add any other final touches.

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The fourth game in the Turok line has a slightly different feel from that of the previous games in the series. While the deathmatch focus of the previous edition in the line, Turok: Rage Wars, was clearly inspired by PC first-person shooters such as Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion is an extended continuous shoot-'em-up experience broken into short episodes - much like Half-Life.

In fact, Turok 3 is similar to Half-Life in several ways. Many of the game's sound effects, monster designs, weapons, and scripted events seem derivative of Valve's PC classic. The first time you see a title of an episode appear on the screen as you enter a new area or hear enemy soldiers call out after you, you'll have a distinct feeling of déjà vu.

Unlike in Half-Life, you're given the choice between two characters: Joseph and Danielle. Joseph excels at sniping and uses night-vision goggles, while Danielle jumps higher and uses a grappling hook to access hard to reach places. Each level possesses areas that only one of the two characters can enter. Though these sections are not very long, they at least offer a slightly different experience from one another.

Without the use of the N64 Expansion Pak, Turok 3's graphics appear bland and its environments appear sparse. But when the Pak is used to bump the visuals into the hi-res or letterbox modes, the game looks fairly impressive. The graphics don't appear quite as lush as those found in Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, but the frame rate is much more consistent. Though not very fast, it at least chugs along at a regular pace. The frame rate runs slower in the multiplayer matches, where the heat of competition makes it much more vexing. This sort of problem was present in Turok: Rage Wars and appears here as well, but so do some of the positive aspects, such as the ability to add computer controlled bots into the fray and choose from a nice variety of different modes.

One of the most welcome additions to the Turok series is the ability to save at the start of each stage's many subsections. Also, life tokens are now placed in such a way as to provide hints to where you should go next, which does away with the aimless feeling found in Turok 2. Between these two features, you won't be cursing about how large the stages are. They're big, but they no longer feel too big.

The version of Turok 3 we played was said to be 80 percent complete, so the developers still have a chance to improve the frame rate and add any other final touches. We'll have a full review in time for the game's release at the end of August.

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