Consoles are often defined by the standout titles that are released over their lifespan. We all know about Mario and Zelda, but there was something else that stood out for me on the Nintendo 64: A certain dinosaur-hunting series known as Turok. The first two titles have seen rereleases and remasterers, but Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion has been left forgotten… until now. Nightdive Studios have done something Acclaim should have done all of those years ago and released the “lost” Turok title to gamers of all formats with Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered.
What Is A Turok?
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered starts with Joshua Fireseed the current wearer of the Turok moniker having a foreboding dream about a child. He predicts that this is the arrival of long-hinted antagonist Oblivion. Soon after, Joshua is attacked and killed in his home with his sister Dani and younger brother Joseph. After the intervention of a powerful being, they return to live as the new Turoks, venturing out to close an interdimensional breach and stop Oblivion.
The story is mostly told through cutscenes at the start and end of each level. It does require knowledge of the previous games to understand what is going on and while by Nintendo 64 standards this had quite a big narrative, it was still long before games such as Call of Duty had in-depth tightly written narratives. Ultimately, this is a shallow but passable story which isn’t unusual for games of its time. It doesn’t quite put an end to the trilogy sadly, ending on a cliffhanger that has never been resolved by a fourth installment in the series.
Two Man Band
Much like the previous two titles, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered is a first-person shooter. The game is set across 5 large stages.
Unlike the previous games, the levels lack much of the complexity the series was known for and follow a more linear path with frequent set-pieces. Several sections seem directly inspired by popular FPS games of the time such as an area midway through the game that screams Black Mesa from Half-Life.
Unfortunately, despite a few standout areas and a very strong first level, this does feel like the weakest of the trilogy. Some areas feel empty causing pacing issues and due to the original console limitations, the levels are split up into sections rather than being giant hubs like the previous two games. The linearity of the stages while pushing you through the story quicker feels like there is less incentive or chance to explore and weakens what initially drew so many people to the franchise with Turok 2: Seeds of Evil.
There are 2 immediately playable characters, each with their own routes and weapons. A third character is unlockable later on.
Dani is the older of the two playable siblings and gains a grappling hook as well as explosive “Tek Arrows” whereas young Joseph is smaller so can crawl through gaps and gets access to Night Vision Goggles and a silenced pistol for stealth sections. Despite different paths, stages remain mostly the same with only minor deviations and every level ends with a boss fight.
I’m A Baus!
The boss fights in Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered start relatively simple and then amp it up. Several bosses have unique gimmicks such as having to cool lava off to expose your prey. Sadly, the titular baddie has one of the weakest boss fights and makes you wonder what the big deal was with this apparent universe eater.
Stages are littered with human, monster, and dinosaur variety foes. That said, it isn’t until later in the game when you take a trip to the iconic Lost Land from Turok 1 that the dinosaur lineage of the series comes into play. As you slaughter your way through enemies, you can find health pickups, parts of a special weapon, and cleverly hidden secret areas with a variety of ammo and other goodies.
The weapons are a mostly pedestrian selection and certainly nothing new to the franchise: pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers, and the famous Cerebral Bore all make an appearance but it’s the secret weapon that makes the best impression with its area-warping destruction. The combat is just as punchy and brutal as you would expect and headshots are just as satisfying as they have always been leaving foes with a fountain of blood instead of a cranium.
Hold Onto Your Kex
Nightdive Studios have put their Kex Engine into overdrive to present gamers with the best version of Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion. The game was originally Nintendo 64 exclusive (not counting the top-down Game Boy Color version) and with no source code or PC port to work with this at one point was seen as impossible. Fortunately, Nightdive are masters of their craft, and Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered stands as a testament to this.
The frame rate was a consistent 60fps, something the initial release could have only dreamed of. It feels like it was designed with modern gaming in mind with intuitive and smooth controls. The fog has been removed. The only thing missing in this re-release of the game is the multiplayer and while it had a cult following at the time, I can’t imagine there is a raft of people still itching to play it.
64-Bit Processing Power!
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered is still very much a Nintendo 64 game in terms of visuals. Yes, it was quite advanced for an N64 game being one of the few with lip-syncing in cutscenes and ahem jiggle physics for Dani and Adon, which as random as it is, classes as an innovative act. But it still shows its age.
That said, Nightdive has done a fantastic job of tidying up the textures throughout and at making Turok 3 look great, albeit slightly exposing how devoid of charm some of the areas can be. Character model animations look fantastic and the destructible areas of scenery once again show just how ahead of the game Turok 3 was back in the day. Yes, it isn’t exactly Perfect Dark but it hits in the areas it counts and visually is the strongest of the Turok trilogy.
Motion blur is a new addition to Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered. This is something I usually turn off, but I found that keeping on improved my playthroughs of this game. It’s useful to soften some of the textures and doesn’t feel as egregious as it does in other games.
The soundtrack is fantastic, mixing industry sounds with native Indian soundbites. The songs masterfully fuse both worlds of Turok and were something I found myself enjoying a lot more than expected. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for the voice acting which was the wrong side of cheesy B-movie acting of the time. On top of that, some of the voices sounded a little too compressed, likely due to not being able to re-record the lines. The story isn’t exactly gangbusters so it’s easy enough to overlook, especially with this banger of a soundtrack.
While Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered is technically the weakest of the original trilogy. But now that Nightdive Studios has put in the work and made this title available to players of all modern consoles, you can see that even at its weakest moments Turok was a series that had more than enough charm and gore to carry it through the generation.
It’s the end of the original Turok trilogy and it is amazing to see how much love and care Nightdive has put into all three of the titles. Bravo to Nightdive for their work here and making this easily the most playable Turok 3: Shadow Of Oblivion has ever been to the point I couldn’t put the game down. You truly are the new Turok!
TUROK 3: SHADOW OF OBLIVION REMASTERED IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Nightdive Studios for a PC review code for Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered.
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