Bearing in mind that Turok: Rage Wars is, from a design standpoint at least, the purest form of a first-person shooter, it should be no surprise the gameplay is rather frantic. Rather than seeking out items and solving puzzles as in the past, you’ll be seeking out opponents and solving their troubles by using a cerebral bore or warhammer to put them out of their misery. In single-player mode, you’ll find your objective varies from mission to mission, but in general one could say that it is always to achieve a certain number of kills given a limited number of lives, even if this does take the form of tag matches or the like. Boss encounters are thrown in for good measure, and prove to be a good challenge, but by and large while questing to earn more skins, characters, weapons, and powerups, you’re liable to get rather tired of the game due to its depressing lack of mission variety.
Troubles in this regard are only compounded when one takes into account the limited size of the arenas and the somewhat brain dead bots. While there may be something to be said for close-quarters battles, as they quickly degenerate into frag fests extraordinaire, you’re going to find the thrill of hunting an opponent through a winding maze of corridors to be virtually nonexistent. Even when you do stumble upon the other characters, as you must surely do, the brief exchanges of gunplay that follow offer limited thrills. This results primarily due to the fact that you can usually snipe away at juicy target points on the AI-controlled characters using heavy weaponry with little fear of seeing much return fire. Occasionally, you will see brief bursts of inspiration strike the various creatures you’re up against, as they give chase and relentlessly pump shots into your back, but turn a corner or two and they’ve totally lost the scent.
What it lacks in single-player mode, however, Turok: Rage Wars more than makes up for the multiplayer portion of the game. Having chosen a style of match to enjoy, and a character and skin to play with, it’s off to the preliminary setup. Prior to play, you’ll actually get to choose the weapons in your arsenal, although you’re limited to five choices, requiring you to become proficient in the use of a small arsenal each time you play. When it’s time to enter the arena, you’ll find that matches generally consist of mad scrambles to get a hold of ammunition, which takes the form of bullet rounds, explosive rounds, and energy rounds, and, in an enjoyable twist, isn’t as plentiful as one might expect. Having obtained the items that power your weapons, you’ll be looking for people to frag, and given the generally limited space in which you’ll operate, this won’t be a hard task. Rapid, messy kills are the order of the day, and if you can stay alive for even two minutes without getting ripped to shreds by a hailstorm of bullets, then congratulations are in order.
Like the latest batch of PC shooters proved, there is some merit to this style of play, which incorporates a surprising amount of strategy and tactical flair into the game. Turok: Rage Wars actually forces you to change your style given the selection of weapons available to you from the onset and the surroundings in which battles take place. For instance, you’ll encounter arenas filled with lava, where one shot could push someone over a cliff and into a molten bath, and elegant cathedrals filled with pillars and winding corridors that can be used as shields and quick escape routes. Despite the variety of possibilities for battle plans this feature opens up, you’ll find the environment is also conducive to “camping” by opponents, but all’s fair in love and war, as they say. In all fairness, though, ups and downs pretty much characterize the entire title, so, eventually, you’ll get used to an interesting variety of finely balanced and somewhat unbalanced features.