Re(?)Considered: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
He never met a dinosaur that he didn't hate.
Hunting is a cruel, barbaric practice that undermines the precarious tightrope of mutual tolerance between man and beast. Turok doesn't care. As far as he's concerned, dinosaurs are fair game. He'll bring down a raptor with a bow and arrow, then throw grenades indiscriminately at a mutant alien. He is a man unchained, choosing to reject the conventions of humanity - for example, don't be titting about with dinosaurs. These jurassic jerks are fierce creatures, you see, and they will gnaw your nips off on sight without so much as a "how do you do". Thankfully, sight is in short supply, egregiously compromised by pea soup fog so thick that it might as well just be a massive pea.
Yes! It's the Nintendo 64's premier first-person shooter (until Goldeneye came out five months later), Turok: Dinosaur Hunter! A game in which you wade through the aforementioned fog and make extinct things extinct-er. Occasionally, unwelcomely, you will face a human being, whose life Turok will unceremoniously snuff without a second thought. Additionally, the Dinosaur Hunter will be made to traverse inordinately difficult "jumping puzzles", if leaping across miniscule pillars to avoid falling to your death can be reasonably considered a puzzle.
Levels are atypically decompressed for such a game, with stages gated behind well-hidden keys that Turok must find. It's entirely possible to get through an entire level and miss them, so stages can be replayed at any time from an extremely concise central hub. It wouldn't be an N64 game without collecting, and blasting mezozoic menaces takes a back seat to key-gathering for the majority of the game. There's also a piece of a special, ultra-powerful weapon called The Chronoscepter well-hidden on each of the seven levels; it's not a mandatory pick-up but it makes the final boss a lot less of a pain.
There's a lot to like about Turok. The shooting feels good, particularly loosing explosive Tek Arrows into a raptor's stupid face. The first-person platforming, while inherently a little finicky, is so unusual and demanding that it commands interest. There's a real lurch to Turok's movements that's full-on mesmerising to me; he slides all over the place precisely on cue in a way that - combined with the player's general destructive prowess - makes him feel like a force of nature. An angel of Dino-murder, inexorably advancing upon you. It's a great feeling for a first-person shooter, if a little bereft of challenge. I have to reiterate though; in this genre you generally want to be dying from enemy attacks, rather than because you slipped off a log suspended 500,000 feet over a void. It's bad enough that instant deaths are the order of the day, but you have limited lives to contend with. I guess they needed to add challenge somehow!
Turok is available in an excellent conversion from Nightdive Studio on PC and XBox One, and it's by some distance the best way to play it. The fog has been removed and plenty of modern quality of life features added without compromising the esoteric appeal of the game. Are you ready Turok? (Note to self: revise closing line – Stu)