The Best Video games to Play in Fall 2002

by Matt Morain

In the stresses of classes, extracurriculars and social calendars one must carefully consider how to spend the ever-so-precious downtime sporadically found throughout the day. Do I nap? Do I chat? Do I clean my room or car? Or do I do that which I know deep within my soul I yearn to do: play video games.

“But Matt,” you complain, “there are so many to choose from. How do I know which ones are worth my time and money?”

Ah, to limit angst I will review, in three parts, the best games to play for three different game consoles: Nintendo GameCube, Playstation 2 and the PC.

Part I: The Game Cube

Turok: Evolution

Game console – Nintendo GameCube

Genre – First-person shooter

Maker – Acclaim

Price – $49.95

Welcome the latest installment in a long line of Turoks, as it comes to be a prequel dating back to the genesis of the series. The plot is a storyline reminiscent of early Marvel Comics. The game opens with a gorgeously detailed animated cinematic of the unfolding battle in which Native American hero Tal’Set is battling his arch-nemesis Captain Tobias Bruckner in 1886 Texas. A rift opens suddenly between their world and the Lost Lands, sucking Tal’Set into its chasm. Near the brink of perishing, Tal’Set is resuscitated by the kindly inhabitants of the River Village, a cowering colony in hiding from the Lost Land’s greatest threat – the Lord Tyrannus and his reptilian hordes.

In Hitler-like fashion, Lord Tyrannus is intent on purification of the land through slaughter and misery, and appoints Bruckner (also pulled into the Lost Lands) as new head general to his armies, much to Tal’Set’s horror. Tal’Set gradually ascertains his destiny to become Turok and free the land from Tyrannical oppression.

Turok’s game play is based on double axis controls with dual analogs directing movement and head orientation, pioneered by Microsoft X-Box’s Halo. This might frustrate novices, but seasoned video veterans will appreciate the slow-to-master but ultimately superior controls that the programmers at Acclaim(r) Entertainment had the ingenuity to install.

A fire was lit under the A.I. in Turok, as the varied and myriad enemies and beasties respond with combat aptitude and efficiency. Using the same attack technique repeatedly will warrant sure death, as your bi-pedal Triassic adversaries will regroup and change battle tactics to ensure your demise. Use the interactive environments at your disposal to hide behind and otherwise manipulate, for those that hunt you will indubitably do the same.

Try new weapons such as vomit-inducing poison arrows, the slow dismemberment induced by the swarm bore, or a heat-sensitive plasma gun complete with tracking lens.

The multiplayer layout is reminiscent of N64’s Goldeneye, with traditional quarter-split screens. Deathmatches and last-man-standing round robins are a treat, as are the other formats in which you can square off against up to three other friends.

Negatives? The controller setup is all but non-negotiable, offering “default” or “alternate,” which simply reverts back to the action scheme from the N64 titles. The inability to jump and shoot at the same time can be a drawback in close-quarters combat, as it requires lifting the thumb from one button to another. The lack of mid-level saves is especially chagrining due to the extreme difficulty and complexity of several levels. Some creatures are too easily confused, perhaps stemming from a hurried production timetable that all too often leads to glitches that can be an inkblot on an otherwise stunningly masterful canvas.

Other than that, play on with assured confidence in the quality of your purchase. With 15 chapters made up of four or more levels each of incredibly detailed and interactive environments, Turok: Evolution will keep you happily occupied for months on end.

Reviewer’s grade: A (93%).