Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion seems like an odd duck for remaster. Like something released because we took to its siblings well — or maybe something that needed a second chance to finally show what it could do. Turok 3 has spent most of its life stuck on the N64, confined to that era of gaming. Was it worth the rescue?
This is usually where I would give a quick recap of a game’s story. But after the first cutscene, Turok 3 doesn’t make a ton of sense. The basic prompt is that the protagonist from the previous game, Joshua Fireseed, has been killed. It’s up to his siblings, Danielle and Joseph, to carry on the Turok line and stop Oblivion.
As much as I love my N64, one of the best things about playing remasters of games from that console is not having to use the original controller. Handling Turok 3 feels excellent. The characters move a bit slower it seems, forcing players to be deliberate, but the gunplay is enjoyable — even if the auto-aim caused some small issues at first. After I got used to L2 being the jump button and how to switch between some of my items, it was just an issue of figuring out where to go.
Turok 3 is a short play if someone just wants to see the credits. But that first run can take a bit, simply due to not knowing where the game wants players to go. There is no real guidance, outside of some broad objective titles. There are, however, a handful of life force icons that act as breadcrumbs for the weary warrior. But even with those general indicators, it’s easy to get lost or miss a simple opening, stranding a player in an area with numerous enemies to take out.
Level design isn’t necessarily impressive, especially with the constant zoning into new sections. The developers did use some of the vertical space well, especially considering that most levels have at least two paths and encourage a bit of exploration while hunting for keys, levers, and secrets. It was also cool to revisit a classic Turok arena and shoot a few dinosaurs after killing so many mutated creatures and aliens. The modern setting was a welcome change, but they were smart to mix it up.
Like many of the FPS games Turok took inspiration from, there are often relentless waves of enemies running at the player. But in this third installment, fewer nameless foes rush toward the slaughter. They’re more spread out, some strategically hidden up high or in bushes. The hordes still happen, but usually due to an event or special location. Nothing ever felt too punishing until the last level, but I also found myself using more strategy, rather than my usual methods of rampaging in guns blazing; spray, pray, rinse, repeat.
A few of the foes can be annoying with their pop-shots or awkward hitboxes, while a couple of the bosses require an extra mechanic to kill. Several of the main enemies are enjoyable to fight, but a couple of them can easily glitch. This includes the last encounter, where I just escaped to safety upstairs and realized he wasn’t going to follow me, doing repeated circles below as I lobbed rockets or pistol ammo to give him a slow, merciless death. This is the final boss, mind you! I was able to recreate this four times and never died in the process.
The game offers some decent weapons, but several are just upgraded or slightly varied versions of previous toys. They can be enticing, but the game doesn’t like to give players much time to experiment with them, such as how the Vampire Gun feels like an afterthought at first. Most people won’t use it unless it is absolutely necessary or they don’t mind some juggling to stay alive. There is an ultimate weapon that players can collect parts for – or just unlock the All Weapons code – that is quite amusing. I truly enjoyed the Cerebral Bore until I realized how slow it was in an actual frantic firefight.
I beat the game twice and then hopped through some levels to look for secrets and play around. There are two characters to choose from initially, Danielle and Joseph, who both have different weapons and items. The siblings also have alternate means of traversing the stages, but this only truly changes the paths in a few parts. For me, Joseph will be my chosen warrior going forward due to his night vision goggles, which are excellent for spotting enemies. I was leaving that enhanced sight on in so many areas. Not only can players unlock two amusing extra characters to play, but they can try their hand at Oblivion difficulty as well.
Visually, Turok 3 had a comfortable feeling, reminding me of my time back on the N64, but it probably won’t impress most people, even though a lot of work went into rebuilding these assets. There’s some great texture work, considering, and some elements had to be re-created by hand. Cutscenes are smooth, but some of the faces definitely cracked me up a bit. The sound effects are sweet, like that satisfying thud of a headshot with the bow. Picking up the life force tokens also me think AOL Instant Messenger was going off — a lingering note of nostalgia from the game’s own vintage.
Finally tackling Turok 3 was somewhat cathartic, and definitely enjoyable. That said, it doesn’t quite match up with what came before it. I’m glad Shadow of Oblivion is here to complete the trilogy, because a lot of people missed it. I’m not sure how many new fans Turok 3 will make, but it felt worth it.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.