Turok: PSU Interview with Studio VP Josh Holmes

Back in the day, one of the best first person shooters to grace the N64 was known as Turok. Based on a fictional comic book character, Turok saw four instalments, the last of which being Turok: Evolution, which hit all consoles including the PC.

Since 2002, the Turok franchise has sit in the shadows collecting dust, waiting for resurrection. Then in 2005, Buena Vista Games announced it had acquired the rights to the Turok franchise and Propaganda Games would develop the first new title using the acclaimed Unreal Engine 3. Not quite the extinct species it was once perceived as, Turok now makes a triumphant to its past glory, releasing on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Our interview is with Josh Holmes, co-founder and Vice President of Propaganda Games. Covering everything from storyline to multiplayer, this interview provides all new juicy details on the long awaited revival of Turok, so sit back and enjoy!

PSU: What is the general storyline behind Turok: Rebirth?

Josh Holmes: Well first of all, we’re releasing the game simply as Turok. At one point early in development we were referring to the game as Rebirth internally, but ultimately we decided to go with just Turok, since we were pressing restart on the franchise.

The game takes place roughly two hundred years in the future and centers around a military mission gone wrong. You play as Joseph Turok, a former black ops commando now part of a special forces team that travels to a distant planet to track down an escaped war criminal – your former mentor, Roland Kane. As your ship nears the planet, you are shot down and you find yourself stranded on a prehistoric planet filled with dinosaurs and vicious creatures.

PSU: What happened to the Native American with the feather and tomahawks? From what we’ve seen the main characters are now more cliché soldier types. What’s the reason behind this move to change the protagonist?

Holmes: Turok is a modern hero who happens to be Native American. So while Turok’s Native American heritage plays a part in the story of the game, we didn’t want this to be his sole defining characteristic. We made the deliberate decision to stay away from stereotypical representations of Native Americans, so you won’t see Turok running around in a loin cloth and bone vest, wearing a head dress. We’ve kind of evolved beyond that, you know?

PSU: Will Turok have story ties with past Turok games and if so, can you give us a few details on what?

Holmes: This is a re-imagining of Turok and a reboot to the franchise. While there are aspects of the story that are inspired by the comics and past games, there is no direct link.

PSU: What would you say sets Turok apart from other First Person Shooters?

Holmes: Oh I don’t know, maybe… dinosaurs! Turok puts you in a prehistoric jungle environment and challenges you to survive. The dinosaurs are really terrifying, particularly when they jump on top of you and try to rip your throat out. We’ve incorporated third person elements into these mauling sequences to really bring the action to life. Players can turn dinosaurs into the ultimate weapon using the luring system – tricking creatures into attacking enemies.

PSU: Will Turok feature a linear or sandbox-style gameplay experience?

Holmes: It’s a combination of open, sandbox style play and linear storytelling. Throughout the game we have designed our levels to be playable using a variety of different tactics and approaches. Wherever possible we have crafted multiple paths through each area to create a more open field of play. All of the AI in the game is dynamic for both humans and creatures. Enemies make decisions on the fly, reacting based on behavioural patterns and advanced tactics. What this means for the player is that each encounter unfolds differently depending on the approach you take.

PSU: What weapons and items will be available? Any oldies making a return? Perhaps the Cerebra Bore?

Holmes: We have a wide variety of different weapons in the game, ranging from conventional weapons like the shotgun and sniper rifle to more exotic weapons like the sticky bomb gun. We also have signature Turok weapons like the bow, and arguably the coolest knife ever featured in a shooter.

PSU: What kind of features/modes will be available in multiplayer? How many players online and will there be Co-op?

Holmes: Turok’s online component supports up to 16 players in competitive play and up to 4 players in Co-op. We have 10 maps in total, including seven competitive maps and three Co-op specific missions. Competitive multiplayer modes include Capture the Flag, Assault-style Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and War Games, a special objective-based game mode.

PSU: Will dinosaurs make an appearance in multiplayer?

Holmes: Dinosaurs are a big part of Turok’s multiplayer and appear in all modes of play. Being able to sick hungry dinos on your enemies is one of the most satisfying parts of our multiplayer experience.

PSU: How many different species of dinosaurs are in the game?

Holmes: There are a wide variety of dinosaurs in the game including ferocious carnivores to more docile plant eaters. Some you may recognize and some are Turok-only creations.

PSU: Are there any differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions? Which s your lead development platform?

Holmes: Turok is built on a heavily modified version of the Unreal 3.0 engine. The game has been in development for almost three years and we began work when the engine was primarily focused on Xbox 360 development. So the 360 has been our lead platform although the bulk of our attention has been on the PS3 through the later stages of development. Both versions will be the same when they release in February.

PSU: Will Turok support Dualshock 3 rumble and SIXAXIS?

Holmes: The game may support the DualShock 3 but not the SIXAXIS.

PSU: Will there be a demo for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network before the game ships? If so, have you any idea on when the demo might be available?

Holmes: There will be a 360 demo available starting in early November through GameStop stores as a pre-order item for a $5 deposit and will include a Turok T-shirt. We are considering releasing online through Live and PSN prior to our launch in February, but right now we are focused on polishing the game itself.

PSU: Is there an official release date yet for Turok?

Holmes: The release date is currently scheduled for February 5, 2008.

PSU: What is the planned framerate and max resolution for Turok?

Holmes: The game runs at 30 fps and supports resolutions up to 720p.

PSU would like to thank Josh for the interview and be sure to check back in for all updates on Turok for PlayStation 3.