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Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered Review - Prehistoric Mayhem!


Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered

PC/XBOX/PS/SWITCH

11/30/23



Nightdive Studios have more than proven themselves when it comes to remastering games of the past while preserving their integrity. Having previously restored classics such as Shadow Man, and Doom 64 to name a few, they've also freshened up the previous two entries in the Turok franchise with great success. The work they've done up to this point is honestly a bit mindblowing when you consider the fact that these games were originally being powered by a console with 4 megs of ram, or 8 if you were lucky enough to have an expansion pack. Yes, the Turok series was ambitious for its time, but it's also pretty damn hard to go back to now if you wish to experience it on original hardware. The janky framerates, signature N64 muddy textures, and compressed audio will undoubtedly have players asking themselves how they persevered as we are now so accustomed to blazing fast performance and cutting edge visuals in our games. Alot of us just didn't know better at the time, and so we were satisfied, even impressed with what we had.


Knowing that father time is undefeated, Nightdive have once again waved their magic wand, creating a seemingly impossible restoration of perhaps the most polarizing entry in the Turok franchise from the original trilogy. Gone are the nearly unplayable frame rates of the year 2000, replaced with a blazing fast 120fps in full 4k. Many of the laughable textures have been reworked as best they can, polished up like a pair of beaten down shoes. Auto aiming is now an option, allowing players who are in it for the nostalgia which, let's be real, is likely to be most of us, to experience the game in its entirety without much of the aggravation found within the original. Perhaps for some this will be the first time they ever experience Turok 3, as the game itself was a bit of a hail mary launched towards the end zone near the end of the N64's lifecycle.



Whatever reason you have for diving back into this lost relic of the past, it's shockingly playable and doesn't feel nearly as out of place in 2023 as one might think. Nightdive has shined a bright light on some of the great level design that was always here, only held back by technology. But no more! Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion feels great while preserving the look of the original title. I know that sounds insane, but you do truly feel like you are playing the original on some sort of souped up emulator that has taken steroids, with modern control refinements implemented to boot.


If you haven't played the first two Turok games, I'd highly advise doing so before diving into 3 as the story takes place directly after Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. This time you'll have two characters to choose between, Joseph and Danielle Fireseed as opposed to Joshua, who are on a quest to defeat The Oblivion. Am I ok to spoil a game from 2000? I better play it safe. I've always found the storylines within the Turok games to be fairly entertaining, and that's no different in Shadow of Oblivion. Obviously the cutscenes won't be up to modern standards, and the voice performances while surprisingly decent, sound like they were recorded in a bathroom stall, but there's nothing here that's worse than a lot of more recently released FPS campaigns, which one could argue makes Turok 3 feel a bit ahead of its time in terms of offering a halfway compelling story that makes you care enough to press forward. Don't confuse my words, there is no literary brilliance here, but the narrative is also not as laughably bad as I envisioned in my mind.



As I alluded to, there are two characters to select between and they both play differently from one another. Sure, it may have been a device to add replay value in the end, but I love that the option even existed in a now nearly 24 year old game. Danielle has a few more weapons at her disposal along with gadgets like a grappling hook, and Joshua takes a bit more of a stealthy approach with tools of his own. Yes, the campaigns still play out relatively the same, but there are certain areas only accessible depending on which character you use. Factoring everything, Turok 3's campaign is worth going through twice. It's a bit of a shame that co-op was ultimately never implemented, as the developers had a golden opportunity by already having created two characters who are unique from one another. My understanding is that co-op was originally intended, but budgets and time ended up leading to its cancellation.


Turok 3 does take a bit more of a linear approach when compared to the previous two entries. While it's possible to miss a switch here or there or bumble around the surprisingly open areas a bit at times, for the most part I never found myself all that lost, nor needing any sort of map or navigation system. This was a shock to me given the age of the game. I remember loving Turok 3 as a 15 year old teen, but as I stated earlier, father time isn't always so kind in the world of videogames.


We have also seen campaigns in the last many years feature insane cinematics in real time, and yet Turok 3 was doing it over two decades ago. Planes soar in real time, massive explosions, and impressive enemy AI for the time make Turok 3 feel like an action movie brought to life. Obviously the visual effects aren't quite as convincing when compared to modern standards, but Nightdive Studios have poured a lot of love into this remaster with some brilliant new lighting and graphical effects. Where their work really shines however is in the ways they've tightened up the gameplay. Turok 3 feels nearly as good as a modern FPS release with precise controls now implemented that simply weren't possible before. The KEX engine blazes along beautifully, and with Turok 3 being more of a run and gun experience as opposed to an aim down the sights affair, the original gameplay has transitioned relatively seamlessly into modern times. Even playing on a controller, a cardinal sin for most PC players, was an absolute joy.



One of my favorite aspects of Turok 3 was and still is the weapon variety. It is a game that features over 20 different weapon types that are an absolute blast to use. From the Cerebral Bore which can suck out your enemies brains, to a grenade launcher or even the fireswarm to set enemies ablaze, the artillery available gives the game somewhat of an arcade feel and has always been a strength of the series. And for as much as there is to love and celebrate with this remaster, it is still ultimately a very old game with a fresh coat of paint. Even with all the freshening up in the world, retro games simply aren't going to appeal to everyone. One might say, "this is nice and all, but I can just go back to Call of Duty'' or whatever other more modern FPS is popular these days. This is a remaster for fans of the series who grew up with these games and really, not anyone else. Is what Nightdive Studios have achieved admirable and even mind blowing to a degree when you consider what they had to work with? Absolutely. But will Turok 3 or any of the Turok games peel more modern FPS fans away from Call of Duty deathmatch? Absolutely not.


On the topic of Deathmatch, perhaps the biggest disappointment with this remastering of Turok 3 is the lack of multiplayer found in the original release. I specifically have very fond memories of playing 4 player splitscreen, but at the time of this review the mode is a complete no-show. This is a massive shame as I feel like there was still a great deal of fun to be had here, especially when you consider all of the fun weapons Turok 3 offers. I hope that Nightdive adds this feature soon, making this section of my review age like milk, but that's not a guarantee. Outside of the lack of multiplayer I only encountered one glitch where my character was hung up in thin air and I couldn't progress, but a simple reload of my last checkpoint did the trick.


All told, Nightdive Studios have done a brilliant job restoring a game that perhaps not many of you ever got to experience. For those of you who grew up with an N64 and love gaming history, you'll find much to love here. For me, this was a lovely trip down memory lane and Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion still stands out as a unique piece of gaming history. The graphics and controls have been modernized in a way that makes it playable all these years later, and that should be celebrated. Let's hope multiplayer gets added down the road but if not, I still recommend checking this one out if you love retro games and preservation of the past. I am awarding Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion the silver genie lamp of approval.




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