Primal Carnage Review

Kevin Mitchell on December 10, 2012

If the current gaming trend switches from zombies to dinosaurs, I would be overcome with joy – not that I haven’t enjoyed fighting countless hordes of zombies, but dinosaurs are simply awesome. I’ll try and keep the amount of Jurassic Park quotes to a bare minimum for this review, but I make no promises, hold onto your butts.

When the miracles of modern science have brought dinosaurs back to life, a ragtag group of humans have been sent to “The Island” in order to reclaim it after the prehistoric beasts have broken loose. Sound familiar? With no indication on where the island is located, it might as well be called Isla Nublar.

Developed by Lukewarm Media, Primal Carnage provides fast team-based competitive online multiplayer action across a single game mode: Team Deathmatch. Each side – humans or dinosaurs – features five distinct classes, that when used in unison provide the best chance at winning the match.

The humans are played in first-person with each class equipped with a unique primary weapon – along with a secondary ability. The Pathfinder wields a shotgun, but also comes equipped with flares that can blind any nearby dinosaurs. The Trapper focuses on shooting nets, immobilizing the smaller dinos, while the Scientist can deplete the stamina of the larger dinos by firing tranquilizer darts. The Pyromaniac focuses on being a problem to any dinosaur that wants to get up close with a combination flamethrower and chainsaw. Meanwhile, the Commando comes equipped with a heavy machine gun and a grenade launcher – best used to take out the larger dinosaurs.

On the other side, the dinosaurs focus on getting up close and personal with their claws and teeth to rip the humans to shreds.This is in stark contrast to the humans play style of using ranged weapons to their advantage. While the game implies a first-person perspective for the humans, the dinosaurs feature a third person perspective. Feeling more versatile and nimble than the human counterparts, they are able to set traps and ambushes by peering around corners with ease. Novaraptors are at their deadliest when working in packs, ambushing their prey and leaping on their foes back while biting them to death. The Dilophosaurus is a support class, blinding it’s prey with a tar like spit that can also poison, while the Pteranodon can spot enemies for teammates, as well as carry and drop them over the nearest cliff. The two largest dinosaurs in the game – the Carnotaurs – uses it’s unbreakable head as a battering ram that sends humans flying through the air, while the mighty Tyrannosaurus can swallow people whole as well as crush everything beneath their massive feet. Each one also comes with a secondary roar ability, which provide buffs to nearby dinosaurs or like in the case of the raptor, it increases attack speed at the cost of stamina.

As you can see, both sides have unique play styles, yet both sides feel balanced. The class structure was set up so each side has a class better suited against a class on the other side. While Commandos can provide a steady stream of gunfire, the high recoil provides limited accuracy, making them a poor choice at taking down anything but the larger two species of dinos. On the other hand, the Trapper is best suited for trapping the smaller dinosaurs, while the Scientist and her sniper rifle can take down any Pteranodon circling in the air. Don’t expect to survive a one on one with a dinosaur, especially since you never know if one is waiting right around the corner. Clever girl.

Playing as a human, other humans are highlighted on the map allowing you to easily reach them upon respawn in order to have a better chance at survival. Some of the most intense moments I’ve had revolved around trying to reach the safety of inside a complex while trying to outrun a T-Rex. Moral of the story, if the T-Rex spots you, and you are all alone, be prepared to a prehistoric dinner.

Much like myself, everyone wants to play as the dinosaurs. Given everyone an equal chance, each round will flip the sides so everyone will get the chance at playing the hunter and the hunted. While only containing five maps, each one provides detailed landscapes full of lush vegetation, trees, tall grass, bushes and all manners of flora that sway with the breeze – as well when a mighty beast moves through them. Sunlight filters through tall tree branches and leaves, while buildings and other objects provide various levels of vertical terrain, all with impressive looking textures. The night time raining map in the thick jungle provides the most intense time you will have with the game, if you are playing on the human side. The thick foliage and lack of light keeps the tension high and keeps you guessing where the next raptor will jump out from. The dinosaur models and animation in particular stand out as a testament of what a dedicated team can achieve.

None of the visuals would mean a thing, if the game didn’t play well, but the old-school arcade style fits the game beautifully. When servers start to fill out, the action become chaotic with humans trying to stay together in order to survive with the threat of dinosaurs that cane come from any direction.

Verdict

With no progression system, stat-tracking or leaderboards – as of yet – Primal Carnage lacks features that many modern day games include from the get-go. Primal Carnage is light on features and content, but addicting gameplay provides hours of entertainment and most importantly fun, even if the game only currently has a single game mode. And with Lukewarm Media planning updates that will feature new game modes, maps, skins and more, Primal Carnage has brought dinosaur games back from extinction. Releasing for only $15 on Steam, you won’t have to spare no expense, like our dear friend John Hammond.

Note: The Primal Carnage review was written based on the PC version of the game provided by the publisher.

Primal Carnage

Primal Carnage 8
Enjoyable and (importantly) balanced online multiplayer dinosaur combat
Barely escaping the jaws of a mighty T-Rex just in time, only to have a raptor flank you
No progression or stat-tracking system
Joining a server that shows players, but is actually empty