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GAME REVIEW: Famed dinosaur hunter returns in 'Turok'

It's been several years since we last had a visit from the famed dinosaur hunter Joseph Turok, but that wait is nearing an end with the looming arrival of Propaganda's reinvention of "Turok." A lot has happened with the title since we visited the development studio last year, so we pulled studio general manager Josh Holmes away from his game long enough to ask him how the title is progressing.

"What we've really been focusing on is tuning and polishing the core experience, and making sure we're really paying off the combat and shooting experience with dinosaurs and humans - being able to use the dinosaurs as weapons and all the luring that we had put out there as our big key features," Holmes said.

This new, darker "Turok" plays as a first-person action title with strong ties to everything from survival/horror to stealth games. As Joseph Turok, you'll explore unfamiliar territory on an alien planet, forced to juggle the assaulting armies of a dangerous former comrade and the prehistoric threats native to the landscape. As a central aspect of gameplay, Propaganda is integrating a complex luring mechanic into the mix, whereby players can attract the life-threatening attentions of a dinosaur and send it headlong into a group of human foes. With the combination of these dangerous creatures and an array of gritty futuristic weaponry, Turok is offered a chance to survive the otherwise impossible odds stacked against him.

While giant guns, explosions and roaring T-Rexes certainly form a big part of the action, the team is also spending a lot of time trying to give players some options for those who prefer subtlety. Holmes explains that every level is being built with the idea of including stealth areas where players can best use their knife or bow and arrow combo to silently drop the enemy.

"With the quiet kill system, we want to make sure you've got those strategic choices in gameplay," Holmes said. "There's a lot of work that's gone into the stealth system on the AI side, making sure the AI has dynamic and intelligent responses to all the things you're doing in the world."

In addition to stealth actions, Propaganda wants to assure that when the bullets are gone and the fight is down to hand versus claw, the player still has options.

"One of the things we're really trying to do is make it so that not only can the dinosaurs initiate mauling and melee attacks with you, but that you're actually able to engage them in a similar fashion to finish them off."

This newly announced approach seems to imply some up-close and personal final kills, no doubt involving cool techniques like mounting dinosaurs to get close enough for a killing strike.

The multiplayer component also continues to progress. The game will include, at the very least, 16-player matches. Unlike a standard death match, the online competitions in "Turok" will include a new element: furious dinosaurs that will randomly move through multiplayer stages. Just as in single-player, gamers will be able to draw those giant reptiles out to tear their opponents to pieces.

"You get these fundamental choices - you might have an area that you can move through quickly on the ground, but it's infested with dinosaurs. Then you've got these raised ledges that are elevated from the ground and therefore safe from the dinosaurs, but of course they're exposing you to enemy fire," Holmes said.

It's innovative approaches to gameplay like this that may elevate "Turok" from the standard fare of shooters coming our way in the upcoming months. Of course, only time will tell if the dino hunter is ready for the big leagues once again.

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"Turok"

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Style: 1-Player Action (up to 16-Player via Xbox Live or PlayStation Network)

Publisher: Touchstone Games

Developer: Propaganda Games

Release: Fall

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