While the first Turok held a special place in my heart, I never really got to play the second game all that much. I always rented it from my local Blockbuster Video store, intimidated by that glossy black cartridge, but never got that far without the use of cheats. It’s now twenty years later and while Blockbuster Video is no more, I’m lucky enough to have spent almost too much time with Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. Nightdive Studios have remastered the game fantastically, and I’ve come to realise that Turok 2 is an entirely different beast when compared to it’s predecessor. Thankfully, in this case, different most definitely means better (for the most part).
Turok 2 takes place some time after the events of the first game. Tal’Set has reassembled the Chronoscepter and thrown it into a volcano to ensure nobody can use it again. In doing so, he triggered a cataclysmic earthquake, awakening the Primagen, an ancient alien being that was imprisoned years ago. You play as Joshua Fireseed, a native American warrior who has inherited the title of Turok from his predecessors. It’s a basic story but it’s remarkable how much of a step up it is from the original game with fully voiced cutscenes that give the story of Seeds of Evil a much more cinematic feel.Drawing from its predecessor, Seeds of Evil is semi-open in its design. There’s less levels than in the original game but each is larger with more nooks and crannies to explore. The original game encouraged exploration too, but Seeds of Evil builds on this in almost every aspect. As you’d expect it’s also near impossible to collect everything on your first run through each level, as some are cordoned off behind certain pick-ups that are only found in later levels. Don’t worry, you can jump between levels as you wish.
As I mentioned in my review for the first game, this non-linear design has aged particularly well. You’ll come across things that you’ll remember to backtrack to after finding a new ability in a later level. And it makes sense too, given that a core selection of the team who originally worked on Turok 2 would eventually go on to work at Retro Studios and Metroid Prime. While not perfect in its execution, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil feels like a grittier homage to games like Metroid and it’s interesting to see how this non-linear design would eventually be refined and translated to games like Metroid Prime and its contemporaries.Thankfully the major issues I had with the original Turok are largely absent from Seeds of Evil. While Seeds of Evil features a greater emphasis on exploration and open level designs, it also features a lot less platforming segments than the original game. Thankfully, this means that most of the frustrating deaths I experienced in the original game weren’t as numerous in Seeds of Evil. The remaster has also added a few great features that help platforming and traversal feel smoother than ever – include a handy ledge grab.
When you’re shooting up a room filled with dinosaurs, you’ll most probably notice that the gunplay feels much more involved too. Playing on a higher difficulty especially, every shot counts, and a well-aimed headshot is going to be more useful to you than several body shots. Enemies naturally are designed to zip around your location a bit more, though some stay stationary at times too. The flow of battle generally feels much more dynamic in Turok 2. It is admittedly a little bit slower feeling than the first Turok, which just threw enemies at you and had you spraying and praying a whole lot more.Such a design choice is backed up by a new arsenal of weapons, including a surprisingly flexible Tek Bow that performs admirably at close quarters and long range. For most players, the Tek Bow will be a huge crux to most players on their journey through the Lost Lands. Even more impressively, arrows can be retrieved from wherever they land, including from the bodies of enemies (living or dead) too. Other high tech, abstract weapons round out the varied weapons roster. Without a doubt, the Cerebral Bore is now most infamous. As revolting as it sounds, it’s a weapon that locks onto an enemy’s brain, drills until their skull leaks and then explodes. Yeah, in case I didn’t mention, Turok 2 is deliciously violent.
Twenty years on, Turok 2 isn’t without its issues. While I love that you can backtrack to older locales to find collectibles you might have missed, some might find this type of design to be nothing more than unnecessary padding. To the games credit, the levels become a little bit less overwhelming and more linear later on, but the ability to quick travel (absent from the Nintendo 64 version) makes backtracking more manageable. The maps themselves are also a bit repetitious at times – making it easy to get lost.Owing to the multiplayer gaming craze that Goldeneye and Perfect Dark ushered in, Seeds of Evil also featured a multiplayer mode that was surprisingly fun. Thankfully, this mode has been translated across and given the remaster treatment as well, with full online functionality to boot. Split screen runs like a dream, having the increased power of a PC or an Xbox powering it means little to no slowdown. When I’d find an online match the performance was ok, though it’ll never replace a split screen match with friends sharing your couch. Thankfully, multiplayer remains fun, owing largely to the frenetic chaos the varied arsenal brings to the table.
In terms of presentation, Seeds of Evil tries it’s best to be faithful to the original game but in the process of introducing all the modern bells and whistles something has been lost. The game itself looks fine and runs immaculately with minimal drops in the frame rate. It’s the lighting that’s been slightly messed up – I remember using the flare gun constantly in the original game to light up dark areas, but the new lighting in this remaster renders it almost useless as everything is already bright or well lit. Similarly, most of the lighting just seems off; some areas seem too bright while some areas look flat. It’s not a deal breaker by any means but it does alter the mood of some scenes. This is a bit of a subjective issue though, and the remaster performs admirably.The soundtrack is fantastic and helps set the mood on each of the games stages. Like the remaster of the original game, both the Nintendo 64 and PC versions of the soundtrack are selectable on the fly. Both are great, but with subtle differences to their composition. Disappointingly, the voice work is absolutely dreadful though, whether it’s the absolutely robotic Adon or the annoyingly raspy Oblivion, there’s rarely any characters who delivered their lines believably.
THE XBOX ONE VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
There is no denying that Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is a more refined game than its predecessor. That much is certain. With Nightdives efforts, Seeds of Evil plays better than it did twenty years ago. There are some things players will have to overlook – particularly the dated visuals and some samey looking level designs – but Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is still a blast to play.