Primal Carnage Review
“Damn it, even Nedry knew better than to mess with the Raptor fences.”
I’m sure there are some out there, but I’ve never played a competitive multiplayer game where I was controlling a Dinosaur before, so when I first read about Primal Carnage and learned that I would be doing just that, it caught me off guard a little bit. Here we are, in a time when Military Shooters own the market, and to see a developer take a chance on a new type of shooter like this was both bold and exciting. Now that the game has been released, is it as good as it sounds? Yes, and no.
As I said, Primal Carnage is an online, competitive multiplayer game, so there are no single player modes to talk about and the background story is pretty brief. Basically, there is an island where some Scientists were able to bring Dinosaurs back to life, only to have them escape, kill everyone on the island and take it as their home. Now it’s up to a small group of humans to clean up the mess and take the island back. No, I’m not getting it confused with Jurassic Park, that is the actual background to the game, as eerily similar as it is.
There is only one game mode in Primal Carnage currently and it’s Team Deathmatch. It supports up to 24 players with one team of Humans played in a First-Person view and one team of Dinosaurs played from a Third-Person view. Each side has five different classes to pick from, each with unique weapons and gear.
On the Human side you have The Scientist who comes with a Sniper Rifle, Cattle Prod and a Tranquilizer Gun, the Pathfinder who comes with a Shotgun and some dino-blinding Flares, the Pyro who has a Flame-Thrower with a mounted Chainsaw and some Frag Grenades, the Commando who has a Machine Gun with a Grenade Launcher attachment and finally the Trapper who has a Net Gun to trap the Dinosaurs and then can dual-wield a Magnum and a 9mm. Each character also has a quick melee attack that is either used with their primary weapon or a secondary blade like a Knife or Machete.
The Dinosaurs include the air-based Pteranodon who can pick up humans and drop them to their death and also use a shout ability which will reveal the human locations to the other Dinosaurs for a short period of time, the Dilophosaurus who has a spit attack that blinds your enemy, the Carnotaurus who can heal themselves and have vicious charging and head attacks, the NovaRaptor’s are the fastest of the bunch and can pounce on enemies and last but certainly not least is the T-Rex. Although they are the slowest Dinosaur, the T-Rex has the most hit points and can eat a human in one bite, making them both the most vulnerable and most powerful at the same time.
Playing as a Human is fine, until you play as a Dinosaur. After my first taste of Human flesh, I didn’t want to go back. I’ve never played anything like it and had a great time hunting, chasing and devouring any Human that I could find. The Humans may have some powerful weaponry and catching a Dinosaur with the Net Gun is great fun, they are merely the appetizer for the fun you will have when it’s your turn to be a Dinosaur.
Running on the Unreal Engine, Primal Carnage looks really nice, although the Human character models could use a little bit of work. On the other hand, the Dinosaurs look as awesome as they feel and I haven’t enjoyed them in a video game this much since Dino Crisis 2. It’s obvious that a lot of the development time went into making sure that the Dinosaurs looked great and that it was actually fun to play as them. This is a crucial aspect of the gameplay that Lukewarm had to get right and in my opinion they nailed it.
Lukewarm also created some really nice environments, which span across five well designed maps. Since this is a multiplayer only game, the maps are another aspect that they had to get right. The map locations include the Docks, an overrun Utility Base, a vast Jungle area, an abandoned Air Base and a massive Bio-Dome. All of the maps are a good size, with some of them like the Air Base and the Jungle being quite large, and they all feature ammo boxes and health pick-ups for both teams. Normally I would complain when a shooter doesn’t have a mini-map or some sort of radar but part of what makes Primal Carnage so great is the tension caused by not knowing when a Dinosaur may pop out at you and a constant mini-map or radar would spoil that.
There are a few small things that I don’t like about Primal Carnage though, like the fact that you can’t zoom in with any gun, even to iron sights, except with the Sniper Rifle, there are no vechicles to drive and that there is no progression system for your characters, but the main problem is definitely the lack of content. Lukewarm are releasing it as an in-progress game with lots of “free DLC” (new maps and modes) planned to expand the game as they go. While I love free DLC, when your customers pay upfront for an in-progress game, it’s not free DLC that you’re releasing, it’s just the rest of the game that they already paid for. I really don’t like this approach and would much rather just get the full game on the day I paid for it.
This is becoming a new trend in PC Gaming, especially with First-Person Shooters it seems, with recent games like Ravaged and another Dinosaur game, Orion: Dino Beatdown (you fight against, not as Dino’s in that one though), releasing with limited content at launch as well. The bright side for Primal Carnage is that out of all of the games that I’ve played that were released this way, it’s the one with the most potential and the one that I had the most fun with. Hopefully we don’t have to wait very long for the rest of it.
If you’re looking for a fresh First-Person Shooter experience then you don’t have to look any further than Primal Carnage. It lacks content in the worst way, but the amount of fun I’ve been having with it helps make up for it. Playing as the Dinosaurs is a unique experience that shouldn’t be thought of as a gimmick or overlooked. The price of $14.99 may seem like a bit much for one game mode, but if you don’t mind paying for the game now and waiting for the rest of it, Primal Carnage is the one I would recommend taking a chance on.