(Nintendo 64)

Turok: Rage Wars (Nintendo 64)

Game Review

Turok: Rage Wars Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mark Reece

Rage against the machine (gun)

Multiplayer has been a mainstay in first person shooters since only a few years after the genre's formal debut. Nonetheless, PC gamers had been shooting each other either in LAN setups or online for many years before console FPSes got in on the act. It wasn't until GoldenEye 007 hit the N64 that the idea of getting some friends together to sit around your console and participate in some deathmatch fun started to skyrocket in popularity, thus ensuring that developers and publishers began to take notice. One such publisher was Acclaim, which had garnered a substantial following by the late 90's, something that was in no minor way thanks to the Turok series. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil had dabbled in multiplayer in 1998, however after the grand spectacle of the campaign it felt as if it'd been an afterthought and tacked on at the last minute.

It wasn't until the following year that Acclaim unleashed Turok: Rage Wars and established the series as a major player in the multiplayer FPS scene — on the N64, at least. Acclaim's dedication to delivering a comprehensive, fully-featured multiplayer game was so thorough, in fact, that the game features no traditional single player mode as such. In the same vein as games like Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament, everything you do in Rage Wars is centered around multiplayer, whether you're playing solo or have up to three friends in tow.

Should you find yourself playing on your lonesome, Trials mode presents players with a sprawling map of increasingly challenging matches in which to participate and drive the "story" forward. Truth be told, this isn't where Rage Wars shines: AI-controlled combatants put up a good fight depending on how you've tweaked their difficulty, but they're no substitute for actual human opponents. Unfortunately — cheating aside — the only way to unlock every playable character for use in multiplayer is by completing Trials mode, so slogging through is a necessary evil, depending on your scruples.

There's no doubting that the only way to play Rage Wars is with some friends huddled around the TV, all endeavouring to blow each other to bits with some over-the-top weaponry, which Rage Wars delivers in spades. Even without the Rumble Pak inserted, the sensation of pulling the trigger of most weapons — even the Mag 60, the game's pistol — is an exhilarating one. Despite not being quite as bombastic as the collection of village-flattening firearms seen in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Seeds of Evil, the weapons are interesting if nothing else. The more run-of-the-mill shotgun, assault rifle, minigun and grenade launcher are accompanied by such outlandish tools of destruction as a missile launcher, freeze gun, inflator and naplam launcher, among many others.

You can't just run around and pick up whichever weapons you choose, however. Before a match, everyone picks the guns they'll be taking into the game and each arena is littered with three types of ammunition: bullets, energy and explosives. Every weapon falls into one of these three categories, so players are able to customise their loadouts and make strategic choices to suit their tastes while not having to worry about a shortage of ammo. Each weapon also has a secondary firing mode, which adds strategic depth to proceedings. For example, the grenade launcher can fire rounds that either detonate on impact with anything solid or bounce erratically until they make contact with an opponent; the minigun spews a hail of bullets that cut through opponents, but can also provide the player with a personal shield at the expense of their energy ammo supplies.

Besides ammo and health, one-use pick-ups are also available. Items like the iron claw, mines and sentry gun offer up great opportunities for players to lay devious traps, although the ever-popular cerebral bore steals the show. Incidentally, Rage Wars is filled to the brim with opportunities for creatively getting one up on your friends — the hallmark of any good multiplayer game. There are few greater pleasures to be had in a multiplayer FPS than firing off a bore and watching its imminent victim zig-zagging around in a futile attempt to stop his brains from becoming wallpaper paste. Although, perhaps those who favour playing as the Raptor — which is unable to use weapons and must rely on its extreme agility and slashing claws to prevail — might have a different opinion, there.

"Oh snap!" moments and big guns aside, another major aspect of a multiplayer deathmatch game is the arenas on offer. The maps in Rage Wars are for the most part well thought-out — even if they do tend to lean towards relatively simple symmetrical design somewhat — and are all aesthetically distinctive, easy to memorise and balanced for nearly all play styles. Balancing is an area in which Rage Wars seems to have more than ample attention lavished upon it: very few weapons feel useless or underpowered compared to the rest, and a shotgun will have its uses in some areas whereas the scoped plasma rifle will prove more useful in others. Well designed maps, custom weapon loadouts and an assortment of different control schemes catering extensively to both left- and right-handed players all mesh together and ensure that, barring any ham-fistedness, no player is left behind in terms of skill. No one likes playing multiplayer with unevenly matched opponents, after all.

While Rage Wars falters in very few areas, there are some shortcomings to take note of. Longevity for lone players is, as mentioned above, an issue. Likewise, while the areas are laid out skilfully, the game wasn't much of a looker back in 1999 and obviously doesn't fare any better today, while the framerate also takes a hit during heated firefights a little too often.

Most notably, Rage Wars doesn't boast a set of gameplay options nearly as robust as Rare's multiplayer efforts. Modes are limited to deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and frag tag; the latter sees one player transform into a monkey while points are awarded to whoever kills them. This relatively small selection of game types shouldn't result in boredom by any means, but Acclaim had an opportunity to really spice things and explore new areas and sadly didn't capitalise on that. A real shame, considering the imaginative arsenal of guns on show.

Conclusion

While Rage Wars' selection of gameplay modes might seem a little sparse in comparison to the likes of GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, its tight controls, well designed arenas, array of fantastical weaponry and scope for first person mischief all add up to a N64 multiplayer game that can proudly hold its head high alongside those titles. Unlike Rare's titles however, you won't get a lot out of it unless you're able to make playing with friends a regular event. If you have three like-minded, equally matched peers willing to join you, then Turok: Rage Wars is multiplayer heaven and worth digging out or purchasing an N64 for.

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User Comments (20)

AcidFox

#1

AcidFox said:

Even though I always wanted to, I never bought Rage Wars, but Frag Tag was included in Turok 2, and boy did we have fun with that mode. Me, my brother and a couple of friends played it for hours, and we could barely stop laughing. And thank you for reminding me of the Raptor in Turok 2, it was my favourite character!

JimLad

#3

JimLad said:

Love Rage Wars. Not nearly as good as Perfect Dark or Quake III which were released around the same time, but it was different enough to be worth playing. You could play as a raptor and a swarm of flesh eating mites. Monkey tag was such a great game mode, and the Boomerang was my favourite weapon. Plus you could do other crazy stuff like swim under water on the ceiling, and I think there was a zero gravity level too.
The only thing that stops me playing it with friends now are the controls. Reverse dual anologue(?) is a tricky thing to teach.

Mr_Reece

#4

Mr_Reece said:

@JimLad Yeah, while the controls feel tight and responsive and Rage Wars is still very much worth playing, the N64 pad does present a little bit of a hurdle nowadays. If you can get past that though, it really is a cracking multiplayer game

Ben_Rage_V2

#5

Ben_Rage_V2 said:

I literally had a blast playing this with my friends. The cerebral bore! I had completely forgotten about that weapon. Oh the memories . . .

Mr_Reece

#6

Mr_Reece said:

It's my first review for NLife and I wanted to start with what was a personal favourite of mine during the N64 days

Shiryu

#7

Shiryu said:

Still have this. It was tons of fun, even if not better then Goldeneye or Perfect Dark, it got played a heck of a lot. Internet killed of local multiplayer, sadly... I do miss those days.

Nintex

#8

Nintex said:

ah great game. i still play it from time to time. n64 had some of my fav games. waverace, castlevania, blast corps, hybrid heaven. the system had it covered. great times indeed.

Doma

#9

Doma said:

A decent game for sure. I remember you could make characters explode into a few bits of flesh upon death (depending on the weapon used), that was fun. My fave weapon was that inflator one.

Adamant

#11

Adamant said:

I had this, but it never saw all that much play. Goldeneye was just so much better in every way it seemed so pointless to pop this game in. Absolutely not a bad effort, but not enough to pull Rare off the throne.

RantingThespian

#12

RantingThespian said:

I loved the weapons and campaign in Turok (sadly no multi-player), and I really loved Turok 2! what was so great about Turok 2 was 3 things; 1- you could swap the textures in the multiplayer levels, I loved running around in what looked like a kid's room; 2 - the Cerebral Bore, what an AWESOME weapon; 3 - the Monkeys . . . haven't you always wanted a monkey?

For Rage Wars just felt like an Unreal Tournament or Quake III wannabe. It's not bad, but it didn't feel unique or new. I got bored with it very quickly.

Ren

#14

Ren said:

I think I only played the first Turok, and I wanted to like it despite the annoying controls, so I never got to the others. What a cheesy premise, too. I like dinosaurs, but jeez, the whole cave man, dino, natives thing kind pushes it a little over the edge for me. Not nearly as easy to swallow as 007 or 'babes-in-future-kicking-ass' themed shooters that I preferred then.

NeoShinobi

#15

NeoShinobi said:

The Turok games on the N64 were just awesome. Never got to try out this one though, unfortunately.

NeoShinobi

#17

NeoShinobi said:

Well, I didn't think Turok 3 was all that bad. It was certainly a lot better than the Turok games that followed.

Mr_Reece

#18

Mr_Reece said:

Personally I'd say that Turok Evokution was better than Turok 3. However, the PS3/360 Turok reboot was one of the most disappointing games I've ever played. What Disney and Propoganda were thinking while developing that God-awful mess truly escapes me.

MakeMyBiscuit

#20

MakeMyBiscuit said:

@Mr_Reece

I totally agree about Turok on the 360/PS3. How epic would it have been to re-imagine the environments and weapons of the first Turok game with the power of the Xbox 360 and PS3. It was such a wasted opportunity :(

As far as Rage Wars, I never really appreciated this game for what it was when it first came out. I'm glad I gave it another chance and just recently bought it. Another great game in a great series.

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