Turok: Rage Wars is following in the footsteps of the current PC first-person shooting trend. Rather than have separate single-player and multiplayer games, the single-player mode in Turok: Rage Wars plays more like a training session for your multiplayer games. To be effective as a training scenario, the single-player missions need artificial intelligence that looks, acts, and plays as a human would. But unless the humans you play against are trying to play without looking at the screen, you'll notice that the AI-controlled bots in Turok: Rage Wars can't put up a fight, even on the game's most difficult setting.
The multiplayer mode will hold up to four players, be they human or computer-controlled. You can fight free-for-all battles, team battles, tag battles (where one player turns into a monkey and must change himself back at a switching station before he gets smoked by one of the other players), and capture the flag. Unlike most versions of capture the flag, this one features only one flag and one capture point. You'll pick a character (only a few are available at first - the rest must be unlocked in the trial mode), select which five weapons you want to carry, and then get dumped into one of the game's many arenas. There are a lot of different levels for each type of game. Most of them get the job done, but there are a few levels in there that are just plain bad. The single-player mode is meant mostly to facilitate the unlocking of secret skins and hidden characters. It puts you through all the game's modes on a variety of maps, challenging you to complete tasks like scoring ten kills before you have died ten times, capturing the flag five times, or tagging the monkey three times.
The game has a ton of weapons, each with a secondary firing mode, but only a few of the weapons are truly useful. Many of them, like the inflator, emaciator, and freeze gun, are neat ideas, but they don't really perform too well in actual use. Thankfully, you can configure each of your character's five weapon slots, so you won't be stuck with any weapons that you may find lame. Since you'll be choosing weapons before the match actually starts, there aren't any guns lying around the arenas. Instead, you'll be grabbing ammo, which respawns rather quickly. This causes a bit of a camping problem in some levels, since you can just sit near the explosive rounds and shoot rockets at anyone who comes near you. You'll also score some limited-use weapons, like bear claw traps, turrets, and mines. Finally, there are power-ups that deliver random effects, like invulnerability, invisibility, vampire, speed burst, and many, many more.Speaking of the speed burst, that's what this entire game needs. The combatants just move way too slowly, yet they turn fast enough to keep any running character in their sights. So dodging shots isn't as useful as it could be, and the result is four characters, standing around, shooting at each other until someone dies. Tossing bots into the mix doesn't really help things. Even on the most difficult setting, the bot AI can't stand up to any steady-handed human player. The bots will do all sorts of dumb things, like run right past you without firing, wander past ammo and power-ups without picking them up, and, in team games, run into one of its AI-controlled teammates while walking through a door and getting stuck on each other until you get them loose with a shot or two.
Rage Wars supports the 4MB expansion pak, which enables a hi-res mode and a hi-res letterboxed mode. The standard lo-res mode looks mushy and really quite ugly, but it runs at a tolerable frame rate. The hi-res modes look pretty good, with crisp, clean textures and well-defined models, but the frame rate takes a nosedive, and this only adds to the overall sluggish feeling the game already has. Also, it should be noted that the game's sound is an extremely annoying composition of grunts, yelps, and explosions. If you didn't occasionally need to hear where things were coming from, you'd really want to just turn the sound all the way down and try to forget about it.
There is some fun to be had with Turok: Rage Wars. It has plenty of maps, lots of modes, and enough hidden stuff to keep you playing for quite some time, provided you can stay interested in the game for more than three days. But given the game's slow speed and the general lack of intelligent computer opponents, you're really better off sticking with another first-person shooter. GoldenEye 007 comes to mind, of course, as does Quake II. Both are still very good at putting together an enjoyable four-player experience, as well as providing a meaningful single-player mode.