You know, there was a time when lag was an amazing thing. Let me give you a scenario. Youíre playing Perfect Dark again, arcade mode with eight ďsimulantsĒ set to normal, the Grid level (you know the one, it had the elevator room from The Matrix) slow motion is set to smart, weapons are set to Dragons and Magsec 4's, of which you are wielding two of. Youíre at the top of the lift, knowing that the base holds most of the guards that are in this level, armed with automatic weapons. Waiting. You enter the lift. One shot kills.
The lift doors open and the speed of the game slows to a snails pace as the eight enemies greet you, all blasting away at their eight assault rifles. And your finger doesnít stop pulling at that trigger. Every second, one...two...three enemies fall back down to the silicon hell they were spawned from as the tiny pistol is pumping away with that satisfying chack on every bullet. Diving behind the nearest pillar - miraculously still alive - you reload your dual pistols with that beautiful little animation, before going all out with the three shot burst, and exposing yourself to take out every other guard in the room.
Did you even notice that the entire gunfight just played out in about three frames per second? Hell no! Youíre still high on the fact youíve managed to clear an entire room dodging all those bullets. And that you re-created that awesome scene you just saw in that amazing film that came out, with all the slow motion in it.
So I apologize for misleading: this isnít about gushing over memories over Perfect Dark, though I wont stop you. It is however, based on one of the aspects that Perfect Dark did absolutely perfectly, that is, creative weapon design.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil has the best arsenal of weapons ever seen in a video game. In my mind, this is fact. From the beginning, youíre given a pistol, a bow, and a flare gun. Just what every aspiring dinosaur hunter needs. By the end, youíve upgraded these into explosive arrows, explosive shotgunís, explosive shotgunís where the shells bounce off walls, bombs which cause monsters heads to explode, giant metal claws, pulsing electrical charges; absolutely far too much awesome to contain in a single paragraph. I think with that list, I may have touched upon about a third of the fantastic, original weapons that Turok 2 contains.
Explodey! I like the neon-greens. Every weapon seems to have a nice neon afterglow!
Which is why its so sad that these days, instead of making the fantastic fun to use weapons we used to see in first person shooters, all that arsenals are made up of are the standard pistol, the shotgun, the assault rifle, the machine gun, the pistol with a laser sight. Oh, and the sniper rifle, which isnít a patch on Turokís Plasma Rifle, which Iím going to have to use the word pulsing to describe again.
The thing is, to get weapons right these days, they have to feel right. I have no idea how they did it, but Turok 2 really gave that sense of power behind each weapon you held, regardless of force feedback. And this is where the misleading allusion to Perfect Dark back there comes in. In Turok 2, every time you fire a weapon, thereís a slight frame delay. More noticeable the more powerful the weapon. So, say, when you have a shotgun, you pull the trigger, the game freezes - just a second - and then comes the satisfying bang with one dead enemy in front. Amazing. Now, replace that regular, bog standard shotgun with a Shredder, the enemy with a room full of enemies, and your boring shotgun shells with the red explosives youíve been meaning to try out. Squeeze that trigger and feel your eyes bulge at the absolute power you hold: explosions are flying everywhere; even in the slideshow that presents itself you can still make out all the action, until all thatís left is a torso writhing on the ground and a pair of legs standing upright, before comically falling to the floor. Now thatís entertainment!
Itís the one game I can think of that practically throws absolute power at you, then asks you to go nuts with it. But with absolute power on one side comes a heck of a lot on the other. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Planting explosives on the flat faces of towering zombies and some of the later enemies, making you feel so weak and helpless in their shadow, just pulling that trigger until it bleeds and eventually they will fall. And then firing at the other ones hobbling up around you. With creative weaponry comes some of the most creative, stubborn enemy designs Iíve also ever seen. Flailing yellow henchmen who can be pulled apart with the Scorpion Launcher, Velociraptors that its satisfying to tear the heads off with the War Blade, and those smaller niggling things that just explode on contact with your blade. See one of those green foot soldiers with the arm cannon; throw your razor boomerang his way and watch the blood fly until he begs for death... literally, see him type in the secret code on his arm and the pieces will fly without the need for your creative input. Or just Cerebral Bore his face 'til his brains are in swimming in a small pool a meter away from him. Turok 2 was all about satisfying the player; it did this in spades.
Each level offered the kind of diversity we donít see anymore: you know the lava levels, the water ones - every game has to have to have these. But of its six massive worlds, players were given gigantic monuments to explore, cemeteries where the dead roamed the earth, death camps for soldiers, marshlands: everywhere which felt true to the games ĎLost Landí lore, with a finale set slumbering down the metallic corridors of an alien lightship. Nothing is as youíd expect it to be: the zombie level for one is set between a beautiful palm-tree imbued temple via a series of portals. It staves around traditional cliches and delivers something truly original, certainly one of the best single player first-person-shooter experiences that this short history of gaming has ever seen. Either start the game and once again begin the quest in trying to stop a tropical paradise from having its life drained from an alien overlord, or boot the game up and type in the big cheat - the one everyone knows, BEWAREOBLIVIONISATHAND, and have the entire weapon set and level select at your disposal from the beginning. Isnít it nice how they alluded to the next game with this cheat!
Why do I bother with images when they never show the game in the light it deserves...
Hell No. Donít even get me started on Turok 3, I still wish it had absolutely nothing to do with the first two games. Okay, so Iíll just say these things. Removing Turok from the mystical paradise from the last two games and putting him to live in an Indian Reserve is possibly the worst thing that could happen to that series. The magic and wonder evaporated with just that. And also, downgrading pretty much all the weapons to pistols and assault rifles, while streamlining the levels to shorter, more linear corridors with human enemies and city settings was simply just out of the spirit of previous entries. The lack of imagination there is testament to why Turok is now a space marine. Oh, and finally, I donít like it when after a loading screen, if I walk backwards where Iíd previously been I can actually fall out of the level into oblivion itself. Now I know why they called it Shadow of Oblivion: youíre always walking in its wake, hoping that the game wont inadvertently kill you.
Okay, thatís not all I hate about the useless non-game that was Turok 3, but I could rant on that forever. And Iím a lover, not a fighter!
A game Iím currently really looking forward to is The Conduit. From the first trailer I thought that it looked just like what Turok used to be about: inventive weaponry and frequent gunplay! The animations of the weapons reloading, the funny things that they do when the trigger is pulled - minor things, but they fall in with the spirit of what these inventive shooters used to be. Killing things in funny ways.
Actually, doing my Google Image search for The Conduit has etched my fatih up, just that little bit more!
To be honest, I am still skeptical about it. Recent trailers and previews have shown that it may just be pretty graphics (still, theyíre not a patch on what Turok 2 was with an expansion pak!) and large, empty rooms with not much to see or do. But I still live in hope of what I felt from that first trailer. Heck, thereís a gun that disintegrates people! If that doesnít sell a person, I donít know what will!