When it comes to reviewing classic games, it’s quite interesting to look at these titles through the lens of hindsight. At this point, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion is more than 23 years old, and in that time, first-person shooters have changed in ways that we just hadn’t foreseen at the time, especially on consoles. In the years since, we’ve seen several console shooters come out and basically revolutionize the genre multiple times.
It’s still interesting to think that Turok 3 that came out more than two decades ago can still hold up this well when it comes to gameplay, and this is in no small part thanks to how Nightdive Studios managed to reimagine the game’s entire control scheme for modern systems. Gone are the days when we had to rely on lock-ons and a toggle between aiming and moving while playing shooters on controllers; we have two analogue sticks now, after all.
Back when it came out, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion was considered by many to be something of a misfit within the franchise. While its predecessors were generally fun games about killing dinosaurs and other monsters with unique weapons, Turok 3 placed its emphasis on its story, and even went as far as featuring two distinctly playable characters. However, at the time, the game was criticized for, among other things, numerous bugs and terrible voice acting. Despite all of this, however, it was still looked upon quite fondly by many players.
"Back when it came out, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion was considered by many to be something of a misfit within the franchise."
Looking at it through a more modern lens, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion is still an incredibly fun shooter. While there are some interesting choices when it comes to translating a classic control scheme for modern controllers—L2 for jump comes to mind—the game still feels incredibly intuitive to play just like any other shooter would, despite its age. The gameplay doesn’t really get more complicated than running around and shooting things. Levels are fairly linear, and there aren’t a lot of unique mechanics introduced in the game. Much like other shooters of the era, what makes Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion special is its arsenal.
Sure, it has the weapons you would expect in a standard shooter, like a pistol, an assault rifle and a shotgun. It wouldn’t be Turok if there weren’t some strange weapons and Turok 3 certainly doesn’t disappoint on that end. Among other things, you eventually start getting access to heavier weaponry, ranging from the standard grenade launcher, the iconic Cerebral Bore, and even a weapon with a name as incredible as Personal Singularity Generator. The fun thing about that last one is that you don’t just get it in the usual course of play; you have to assemble the weapon with parts hidden throughout the game’s five chapters.
For those that may not know about some of the more exotic weapons you get to play around with in Turok games, the Cerebral Bore lets you shoot bores that latch on to an enemy’s head and drill into its skull until the enemy explodes. Sure, you may not be able to use it on bosses, but it’s still one of the coolest weapons out there. There’s also the Vampire Gun, which drains enemy health but doesn’t use any ammo. The most powerful weapon in the game, the Personal Singularity Generator, is essentially a weapon of mass destruction that, while incredibly powerful, has a long cooldown before you can use it again.
"It wouldn’t be Turok if there weren’t some strange weapons and Turok 3 certainly doesn’t disappoint on that end."
The creativity that went into these weapons is one of the things that makes Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion an incredibly fun shooter even today. Of course, its standard weapons are also a lot of fun to use, especially if you can get your hands on character-specific upgrades. Turok 3 has you pick a character that you’ll play as for the rest of the campaign—Danielle and Joseph. While Danielle focuses on explosive firepower, Joseph instead opts for stealth and precision kills. Each weapon has an upgrade for one of the characters. For example, the Shotgun can be upgraded by Danielle into the Fireswarm, which sets enemies on fire with its shots. Joseph, on the other hand, can upgrade it to the Shredder, which stuns enemies with its bouncy ammo.
While the story is ostensibly the weakest part of the entire Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion package, it’s still quite charming thanks to its age. The plot isn’t really more complicated than: “They killed your father. Go and get revenge.” This simple premise is wrapped up in an overarching narrative extending all the way from the original Turok release, revolving around a chosen Turok that is tasked with keeping the balance between dimensions by making sure monsters don’t cross into different worlds. There’s even a mysterious council that’s possibly linked to a greater conspiracy. Turok 3’s story is incredibly dumb, and true to its era, doesn’t waste too much time on exposition between its levels.
Along with the core gameplay, Nightdive Studios has also done an incredible job in making the game look visually great. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still an incredibly old game with dated visuals. The studio, however, has touched things up in a subtle ways, improving the its clarity and the general quality of its models and environments, while still maintaining the classic look. You won’t be confusing the Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion remaster for a modern game by any stretch, but you also don’t have to worry about it looking like a bare bones port, since things look much sharper and clearer.
"You won’t be confusing the Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion remaster for a modern game by any stretch."
The biggest problem with the remaster is the fact that it doesn’t include the original’s multiplayer. Sure, maybe adding an entire online multiplayer mode, complete with matchmaking infrastructure would have been well out of scope for what was meant to be a remaster of a classic shooter, but at least including the local multiplayer options would have been a great way to spend some time with friends. The original had the option for 4-player split-screen multiplayer, after all.
In conclusion, Nightdive’s work on the remaster has been excellent; not only does the game play incredibly well thanks to a modern control scheme, it also has a few neat options, like the ability to increase your field of view, and even support for higher frame rates. Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion still features all of the things you might expect if you’ve played the original, and for new players, the remaster is essentially the definitive way to experience the game. The only real drawback is the lack of local multiplayer—a feature that was present in the original—and the game’s story. It’s goofy, campy and fun, but you’re better off just skipping the cutscenes to get right into the gameplay. At least that way you won’t have to tolerate the terrible voice acting.
On the other hand, fans of single-player shooters will find plenty to love here, since the game offers a host of secrets and unlockable cheats, as well as the ability to play as two distinct characters, each with their own choice in weapon upgrades.
This PS4 version of this game was reviewed on the PS5 through backwards compatibility.
Incredibly fun gameplay; Inventive weapons; High replay value thanks to multiple protagonists.
No local multiplayer; Bland story; Terrible voice acting.