The Turok series of videogames has a long pedigree of excellence, reaching right back to the original Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Praised for its inventive weapons, unique protagonist and varied enemies, the game spawned a number of sequels, and now, its first next generation incarnation in Turok on PlayStation 3.
You control Joseph Turok, the newest member of Whiskey Company, a team that has been assembled to apprehend a man named Roland Kane and bring him back to Earth. However, the military spaceship that Turok and his team are travelling in is shot down over a desolate planet, where mutant dinosaurs still roam free.
Gameplay is in the form of a first person shooter, with an emphasis on survival and elements of stealth. Turok is descended from a Native American warrior tribe, and as such uses a bow and arrow and hunting knife alongside the more traditional first person shooter armoury of pistols, shotguns, assault rifles and futuristic energy weapons. Each weapon has a secondary fire and you can use explosive arrows, as well as dual-wielding most of the weapons found throughout the game, giving you the chance to mix up your offensive arsenal.
As you make your way across the planet you'll be fighting a mixture of human opponents and dinosaurs, giving a nice variety to the combat. You'll recognise a lot of the dinosaurs that you come across, from Utahraptors to the colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex, and there are some brand new creatures created by developer Propaganda, such as the Lurkers, giant wall-crawling Komodo dragons that can cling to walls, hide in long grass and leap towards you incredibly quickly on powerful hind legs.
Let a dinosaur get too close and the view will switch to the third person as Turok fights off the attack with a reaction-based mini-game that sees you hitting different button combinations to fend them off while the screen starts to turn red as your health drains away. These sequences give you a real sense of urgency and danger as Turok fights for his life, and make the firefights even more visceral.
Dinosaurs act as a neutral force too, meaning that with the right amount of manipulation you can make enemy soldiers and dinosaurs fight amongst themselves leaving you free to pick off any weakened survivors. Early on in the game you also acquire a shotgun with the secondary ability to fire flares. Dinosaurs are instinctively drawn to these flares; attach one to a person or other dinosaur and they'll attack it viciously, lending a nice tactical edge to your approach to combat. You can also utilise Turok's hunting knife to perform instant stealth kills. Sneak up behind an opponent and press the R2 button to trigger a third person attack animation that kills enemies with one blow without alerting anyone nearby to your presence.
The environments are one of the standout features of Turok. The alien planet you land on is filled with huge, expansive fields, lush, dense jungles and deep, forbidding ravines, and you're always aware of danger at every turn. Dinosaurs lurk in the long grass and in treetops, ambush you from hidden caves and roam the plains in packs, while military installations and converted caves provide variety to keep things interesting. Walking through the jungle knowing you could be attacked at any time is a genuinely unnerving experience, and turning a corner to find you've wandered into a dinosaur nest complete with eggs should strike fear into even the hardest of hearts.
Turok also boasts a 16 player multiplayer mode with Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, Wargames, and Assault Capture The Flag modes, as well as four player Co-operative play on three missions. A unique feature of Turok's multiplayer mode is the randomly spawning computer-controlled dinosaurs and insects that appear in various locations throughout the levels. You'll have to focus on these deadly threats as well as your opponents if you're to survive, a feature that has not appeared in a first person shooter game since Doom.
Turok offers a breath of fresh air to the first person genre, combining tactical shooting action with stealth, hand-to-claw combat and an impressive arsenal of weapons to deal out the necessary damage. Chances are, this is one series that won't be becoming extinct any time soon.