Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Review
Nightdive Studios has developed an excellent track record as Remaster Masters and Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion is their latest one. It is another feather in their cap or an arrow in their quiver, if you prefer. Especially so, since Turok 3 was a Nintendo 64 release whereas the previous two games had PC releases.
Turok 3 was released in 2000 on the N64 console. The game completed the trilogy, though it takes a markedly distinct path from the first two installments. For starters, you don’t play as the same Turok as the previous game. An elaborate and lengthy prologue, especially if you consider the time they created the game, sets up the game. Joshua Fireseed, the Turok from Turok 2, dies saving his siblings from an Oblivion Spawn attack.
Danielle and Joseph flee in their car, but an Oblivion monster attacks them. Just when it seems they are to share their brother’s fate, a female character appears and saves them. She is Adon, a female alien who helped Joshua in Turok 2. She teleports them to the Council of Voices. They hold a meeting on how to deal with the ongoing threat of the Oblivion. The only way to accomplish this is to choose the next Turok. It is here where the player chooses whether to play Turok as Danielle or Joseph.
Each character has their strengths. Danielle is older and larger and has a grappling hook to get around while Joseph is younger and smaller and can squeeze through tight places. Weapons between the two are also slightly different. These differences are marginal, so the bulk of gameplay remains the same. Danielle allows for a more direct approach versus the stealth style of Joseph.
Change of Scenery
The game also differs from the previous two in location. While the first two games took place in the Lost Lands, Turok 3 mostly takes place on Earth. This location change was driven by a different level design philosophy. While the first two games were driven by the level design of the Doom games, Turok 3’s game design was driven by Half-Life. So the first two games had pre-designed levels, whereas the levels for this game were created as required by the designers.
Another new addition to the game is world events that take place outside the player’s sphere of influence. Police activity can be seen when they enter buildings and engage the enemy. They scripted some events while some depended on the player’s actions. The other big difference is the game length. While the first two games take between four to eight hours to complete, Turok 3 will take about two to three. The use of two characters is transparently apparent.
As to the remaster itself, Turok 3 benefits the most. Now released from the shackles of the N64 console, and that includes the upgrade the expansion pack provided, the remaster rocks. Of course, the game looks so much better visually but the biggest benefit of the remaster is a consistent frame rate.
The N64 version may have been one of the better-looking games, especially with the expansion pack, but those visuals came with a cost. They gave visuals priority and the frame rate was secondary. Ironically, the improved visuals with the expansion pack acerbated the frame rate issue. The remaster fixes the frame rate issue and Turok 3 now runs with a smooth and consistent frame rate.
Frame Rate Fixed
Couple the smooth frame rate with the improved visuals and Nightdive once again showcases their technical prowess. Not only did they up the texture resolutions, but they also added dynamic lighting and shadows. These changes make the levels look much more realistic. They even touched up the character models within the confines of honoring the game’s original look.
Nightdive includes a host of options that allow the player to tailor the game to run as best as possible on the platform of their choice. You can change Display options such as Antialising, Motion Blur, Depth of Field, etc. You can also change the FOV and for purists, there are CRT Emulation Settings. One odd omission is the exclusion of a hotkey to switch between the original and remastered versions.
One area of sound they could not do much with is the voices. They still keep some of that tinny tone from the source files. Fortunately, the rest of the game’s sounds and music are reworked to bring them up to modern standards.
Nightdive remains incredibly faithful to the original, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t take the opportunity to tweak and correct some of the original game’s deficiencies. The updates are mostly nips and tucks to improve gameplay by a better distribution of weapons, ammo, and health. They also included some extra levels like the Lost Lands. A nice bonus and the Lost Lands look great.
If you are hoping for an improved multiplayer mode, prepare for disappointment. Multiplayer in Turok games was never a big selling point. The levels were small and the frame rate issue made them a miserable experience. These factors probably guided Nightdive into deciding not to include them. A lot of work would have been necessary to bring them up to stuff. Still, it’s a bit of a disappointment when you consider they had done so for other remaster projects.
Nightdive Studio continues their excellent remaster work and for that we are thankful. The care and attention they bring to each new remaster is always on display.
Turok 3 is the weirdest and least liked of the Turok games. Killing off a main character from the previous installment in the early going is never an easy sell. Think Alien 3 and The Last of Us 2. That hindrance aside, this is easily the best version of Turok 3 we will probably ever see.
Nightdive’s excellent work aside, this is a remaster of an OK game. If you’ve played the previous two installments, remember that going into this one. The deficiencies of the original game in terms of storytelling and overall design are still present. If you keep that in mind, be prepared to enjoy the best version of Turok 3 possible.
***Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion code provided by the publisher***
- Excellent remaster of a N64 game
- Dynamic lighting improves visuals
- Smooth frame rate enhances gameplay
- Multiplayer not included
- Some new textures seem too real
- Voice sound effects sound dated