Not to take away from the quality of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, because as expressed in my review, I think it’s a pretty awesome game that doesn’t get enough credit. That being said, I firmly believe that a lot of its success came down to how excellently timed its release was: It came out when there was barely any games on the Nintendo 64 meaning people were more open to trying it, it was the only M-rated game on the console for a few months that was also an original IP, and it happened to be the only first-person shooter on the console at launch. All these factors, as well as being a great game, led it to being one of the earliest success stories on Nintendo’s first 3-D platform.
When it came time to capitalize on the success of Turok in the form of a sequel, Acclaim was not so lucky from a competition standpoint: Its king of FPS crown was stolen away in 1997 thanks to Goldeneye 007 from Rare, and the year Turok’s sequel would arrive, 1998, was arguable one of the biggest ever for video games. Just take a look at some of the amazing titles/hardware that came out:
- Resident Evil 2 (PSOne)
- Pokemon Blue/Red (Game Boy)
- Half-Life (PC)
- Banjo-Kazooie (Nintendo 64)
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (Nintendo 64)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
- Metal Gear Solid (PSOne)
- Game Boy Color (Hardware)
Needless to say for Turok’s follow-up, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, Acclaim had to think BIG, and think big they did. But as the saying goes, bigger doesn’t always equate to better.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil takes place after an unspecified time from the defeat of The Campaigner in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Not wanting the newly formed Chronoscepter to fall into the wrong hands, Tal’Set threw the weapon into an active volcano. Its destruction sets off a wave of energy that awakens an ancient, sealed evil known as The Primagen who amasses an army to destroy the energy totems erected around the Lost Land that are keeping him imprisoned. Should these totems fall, it would spell the eradication of not only the Lost Land, but our world as well. To combat this newly awakened threat, a new Turok named Joshua Fireseed is summoned by Adon of the Lazarus Concordance to The Primagen and stop total annihilation of the cosmos.
From the second you hit start, the player immediately knows that Turok 2 means business. The opening cut-scene, complete with some great looking character models, especially for an N64 game, and really good voice over work set-up a much more epic scope that Turok: Dinosaur Hunter could never hope to achieve. Turok as a character doesn’t receive any development, nor are we told why there’s a new Turok to begin with, but you’re given a much more important task than get pieces of a weapon, fight a bad guy, the end.
Each level is introduced via the same narration as the opening of the game and for every level you’re informed how far the reach of The Primagen has spread across the Lost Land, as well as how dire the situation Turok is being put in. You never see the main villain until the very end of the game, but his presence is felt through every one of his soldiers you dispatch and every step you take. This makes Seeds of Evil a much darker game than its progenitor, really earning that big letter “M” on the front of the box.
One of the big complaints about the first Turok was how the very close draw distance was, a tool that coined the term “distance fog” that would be hidden as a plot point in games like Spider-Man and Silent Hill. Turok 2 does have some of that, but you can see much further out than in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Everything else from the enemy designs, the textures and the levels look much sharper with greater detail and with the 4MB Expansion Pak installed in your console, it makes this game of the best the system has to offer graphically. This comes with a caveat however, for with the increased graphically fidelity comes a drop in performance. Coming off of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and jumping into its sequel, this game feels much slower than the first outing. Movement and jumping have the feeling that the title character is wading in mud up to his knees whereas Tal’Set gracefully moved around the jungles and ruins in his adventure.
Outside of the reduced movement speed, those who played Turok: Dinosaur Hunter will feel right at home with Seeds of Evil. The same move-with-the-C-buttons, aim with the control stick method is still the go-to control scheme and there’s still no option to play non-inverted. Turok has new tricks up his sleeve this go around including the ability to switch between ammo types, thus saving that explosive ammo for when you need it the most, and certain weapons now have sniper capability where you can attack foes at a distance. This sounds good in theory, but it’s a bit cumbersome to turn on-and-off in the heat of battle as you have to move your hands to the left directional pad to activate it and your movement speed is slowed down even more. Dinosaur’s play less of a role here than in the first game, however you do get to ride a triceratops equipped with a machine gun and rocket launcher, and yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
The legacy of the Turok franchise exists within its over-the-top arsenal that really kicked things up to 11 in Turok 2. You get a few carry overs, like the tek box, plasma rifle and your base arsenal, but new additions like the boomerang-esque Razor Wind and a gun that locks onto your enemies skulls then launches screeching drones into their skulls called the Cerebral Bore are of the most fun FPS toys in a game ever. Similar to the original game, you also have a weapon of mass destruction, called the Nuke, that can be assembled by collecting a part in each stage, though it’s not as simple this time around as you have to venture into closed arenas and terminate some powerful foes before you can claim it as your own. You’re going to need every weapon in your arsenal too, as The Primagen’s army is not one to be trifled with.
Seeds of Evil has its fair share of cannon fodder whose main tactic is too run straight at you, but for a seventeen year old game on one of the first-ever true 3-D consoles, it has some pretty intelligent A.I. As early as the first stage you’ll encounter lumbering Dinosoids (dinosaur/human hybrids) who will actively seek cover or otherwise avoid being shot at all costs. It’s something that we take for granted in today’s day and age, but given that this is a Nintendo 64 game published in 1998, it’s pretty damn impressive stuff.
What was so great about the first Turok game was its big open worlds which make a return here with a lot more variety. As opposed to just being in jungles and villages you’ll travel through water fronts, ancient cities, swamps, an underground cave system and even a futuristic space ship. The variety makes every level a lot more memorable than the original, though I will admit I enjoyed the outdoor vistas of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter over what’s found here. The first game had its own unique identity that made it stand out from other games in the genre, and I didn’t get the same sense of awe or thrill exploring Seeds of Evil’s uninteresting stages, though they are well designed and good looking nonetheless.
The stages in Turok 2: Seeds of Evil are also too big for their own good, and present my biggest issue with this game: it was in desperate need of any editor. In order to complete the first level of this game it took upwards of an hour and a half and each progressive level only gets longer. There’s only six stages in this game but they all feel longer than what they actually are, and I swear there was instances where I thought to myself that I’ve finished entire games in less time than it took to beat a level in Turok 2.
What’s also a problem, not just with this game but for a lot of N64 games, is that there’s too much content put into each level. Not only do you have to seek out stage keys that give you access to the later levels, but also Primagen keys that let you get into the final level. To get those special keys, you need to gain access to special abilities obtained by sacrificing eagle feathers, another collectible you have to hunt down, at portals that you have to find the switch to open, which also bodes for the Nuke weapon chambers. On top of all of that, you also have to complete several missions objectives that are given to you before the start of every level.
This is made all the worse by the fact that you’re forced to go back through levels to get things you couldn’t before, say for example if you unlocked a special ability in level two that allows you to get a key in the opening level. If you missed something in a level like a key or a Chronoscepter you had to replay a level, but by carefully exploring your environment, you could avoid all of this completely, a luxury you don’t have in Turok 2.
Compounding all of these issues and further making playing this game a chore is the poor save placement of save points. It’s common to wander around for hours without even catching a glimpse of a save point, so if you’re going to tackle this game, you better make sure you have a few hours set aside. Frankly I don’t really have that kind of time now, and heck, I probably didn’t have that time when I rented this game back in my junior high years. One Turok 2 save file also takes up a whopping 90 pages out of a regular N64 memory card that has 123 pages for saving, eliminating the ability to create multiple save files. In playing Turok: Dinosaur Hunter I often found myself going back to an old save to save myself from having to replay levels and I wished that was an option I had here as well. I found myself putting down this game for days at a time because I didn’t want to replay entire sections of a level.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil introduced multiplayer for the first time in the franchise, a standard for all games of this type past Goldeneye 007, but I’m not able to comment on it here because I didn’t have anyone that I could convince to play it with, so whether or not it stands the test of time or if the performance is slow like the singe-player game, I can’t say.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is a bigger game in every way than the first title in the series: larger levels, better production battles, more weapons, more things to collect, but even with these improvements, it just simply isn’t as fun a game to play as Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I feel that this game is the one that cemented Turok as a franchise and also the one that people who played these games back in the day remember most fondly. When I started this series I was very excited to play this game again but to my dismay, I found it hasn’t aged very well in the areas where it matters most.