I should love Turok: Rage Wars. The first two Turok games on the Nintendo 64 are among my favorite games on that console. I know some people will think this is crazy, but I honestly believe that Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is the best multiplayer shooter on the 64, even better than GoldenEye and Perfect Dark. So, a multiplayer focused spin-off seems right up my alley. I even like games that use multiplayer matches against bots as their single player content, like Unreal Tournament. Why then, do I not like this game?
Turok: Rage Wars is a clunky, shallow, game. Moving around feels terrible. The game uses a fairly strange control method, that actually was kind of ahead of its time. You use the C buttons to move forward and strafe left and right, and the control stick to look around. This is actually very similar to modern first-person shooters. Unfortunately, aiming is so swimmy that most of the time I just fired randomly, hoping to hit my targets. This isn’t a very good method, as you can hold an embarrassingly low amount of ammo per weapon. As a result, every fight boiled down to me mashing the Z button about six times or so, running out of ammo, and then swinging wildly with my hammer until my enemy dies.
Progression in the single player game is pretty simplistic. There’s a map screen, with each mission represented as a spot on the map. Every mission tasks you with completing an objective. For example, the first mission had me fighting a raptor. I had to kill him twice before I was killed three times. And that’s about it. The second mission was the same thing, except that I was up against an enemy with a gun. The third mission was kind of a boss fight, and I was not able to get past it.
The boss was someone named Bastille. I have no idea who this is. To my knowledge, he was not in any of the previous games. Maybe he was in the comics? I’m not going to look it up. Anyway, you have three lives to kill Bastille. Unfortunately, Bastille has a shield that you have to take down before you can do any real damage to him. Once it’s down, he’ll kneel, giving you about five seconds to hurt him before he gets back up and his shield regenerates. You simply don’t have enough time to do anything before he’s back up and killing you.
One of the most important aspects of multiplayer shooters is the map design. Unfortunately, at least in these early missions, Turok: Rage Wars fails miserably in this regard. Every map I’ve seen is just a series of dimly lit hallways. There’s nothing interesting to interact with, or unique spots to hide. It’s just bland hallways that you run around in circles in until you accidentally bump into your opponent, mash the Z button, and hope that you’re the one that came out on top.
Visually, the game doesn’t fare much better. Everything is dark, which makes actually seeing your opponents pretty tricky. I especially had problems with this during the fight with Bastille. It was so bad, I actually unplugged my N64 from my capture device and plugged it into my TV just to make sure that it wasn’t just an issue with my device. It wasn’t . But even if you could see, there isn’t much to look at. Turok is a series known for its outdoor settings, like jungles and ancient ruins. This game is just a bunch of caves. It’s boring.
I had such a bad time playing this game, that I actually started to doubt that the Turok series was ever good. So, even though it kind of goes against the spirit of Random Game Wednesdays, I grabbed my copy of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil and played a few minutes of it. Although the controls did not age very well, feeling pretty much the same as Rage Wars’, everything about Turok 2 was immediately better. It had a much more interesting setting, taking place in a port town, the colors were much brighter despite the game’s dark tones and there were instantly interesting things to do. You had to activate a beacon by finding a power cell and plugging it in. That’s cool. There was a pistol you could completely miss finding if you didn’t do a little platforming. That’s really neat.
It really is a shame about Rage Wars. The game could have been something really cool. Maybe I would have found more to like if I had played the multiplayer, but based on the map designs, I kind of doubt it. Turok: Rage Wars is a massive missed opportunity and stands as the biggest blemish in the series. Well, at least until the next generation of consoles.