Review: 'Turok' Fun but Nothing New on Dino Planet

You've got a knife in your pocket, a high-powered bow slung across your back and an automatic weapon clutched in each hand as you face off against a ruthless military force and a horde of hungry dinosaurs.

Whew! That's just the first level of "Turok," (Touchstone, for Xbox 360 and Sony PS3, $59.99) an M-rated (Mature) frenetic-paced shooter where the action rarely stops for a breather and danger lurks around each prehistoric frond.

The Turok character first materialized in a video game with "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" back in the late 1990s.

I tackled the PC version back then, replete with clunky landscapes that disappeared into the badly pixelated distance — er, I mean creepy fog.

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Now, Joseph Turok is back and looking for more prehistoric blood.

He's on a mission with some covert ops buddies to capture and bring back Roland Kane from a mysterious planet full of dinos. But no sooner than Turok's Wolf Pack squad approaches the planet, they are blasted from the sky and crash.

The surviving team members, including Turok, must trudge to Kane on foot, avoiding peril at every turn.

I played the Xbox 360 version of "Turok," which I can safely say doesn't break any new ground in gaming. Tried-and-true weapon and mobility techniques remain in play.

I found better weapons along my journey while playing as Turok, and increased my ability to bring down bigger beasts with fewer shots and take out opposing military foes from a distance.

Once the dinosaurs spotted me, there really was no way to escape them. They're too quick. I had to engage quickly or be killed.

Some of them knocked me down to stun me, while others clawed at me mercilessly until the edges of the screen turned red, indicating I needed to find cover to rest and heal or die.

The healing takes about 5 seconds, and it was pretty easy to avoid further punishment while mending in the early levels.

In the early going, I hiked to a military compound with a squad member named Slade in search of Kane.

The back story is that Slade and I don't trust each other, based on some previous operation that went haywire and resulted in the death of Slade's brother. He blames Turok, and Turok's memory about the dustup is fuzzy.

Also to be explained later in the game is the weird science that got dinosaurs on the mystery planet in the first place. Extinction is a state of mind.

There's tall green foliage everywhere and not much map intelligence as far as a guide. I had to look up in the sky and search for smoke to find smoke from wreckage to inspect or military installation building tops to attack. Getting around involved a bit too much guesswork for my taste.

I quickly found out that running out of ammo was a bad thing. I was left with a small knife and the controls didn't really allow for me to whip it around as freely as I'd liked.

I needed to get close enough to small dinosaurs for them to engage me in a quasi prerecorded fighting sequence with button icons flashing at the bottom of the screen to guide the movements I'd need to win the battle.

I'm not a big fan of those stilted hand-to-hand engagements, as they can dumb down the otherwise fluid and free-moving FPS game experience.

"Turok" is a solid enough shooter because the double threat of paramilitary foes and dinosaurs is foreboding.

This would have been better if the game designers had come up with something, anything, that I hadn't seen before.

They didn't.

Two stars.