|Dev: Lukewarm Media|
|Pub: Reverb Publishing|
|Release: October 29, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p|
by Robert VerBruggen
Primal Carnage reminds me a lot of Ravaged, another low-priced, multiplayer-only first-person shooter that was released recently via Reverb Publishing. Like Ravaged, Primal Carnage features a lot of interesting twists to the basic FPS gameplay model—and also like Ravaged, it's missing too many crucial features to be a must-buy just yet. Dinosaur lovers might want to part with their $15 and jump right in, but the rest of us can safely wait until improvements have been made.
It's been far too long since we had a good Turok game, and FPS fans have been hungry for an opportunity to mow down dinosaurs. Further, Primal Rage never got a sequel, so opportunities to control dinosaurs have been lacking of late as well. Primal Carnage aims to fulfill both needs—teams of armed humans face off against teams of melee-attacking dinosaurs. After each round the players switch sides, with the hunters becoming the hunted.
Then again, it's probably not fair to call the dinosaurs “the hunted." They may lack the various gun loadouts the humans have access to, but they have plenty of options for attacking. Especially if they catch a human off guard, dinosaurs will have no trouble biting, clawing, and stomping a person to death.
The five human classes are basically what you would expect—there is a guy who shoots dinosaur nets, which is interesting, but the others are a guy with an assault rifle, a girl with a sniper rifle, a guy with a shotgun, and a guy with a flamethower. The dinosaurs have a bit more variety, ranging from a T-Rex that can destroy humans in seconds (but also provides a big target), to the small, quick Novaraptor, to the flying Pteranodon. Each dino has a roar he can use to activate buffs (for example, the Pteranodon's roar lets other dinosaurs see humans through walls).
The developers also did a tremendous job, on an indie budget, of making Primal Carnage competitive on a technical level. The graphics aren't quite top-of-the-line, but they're definitely up to par, with detailed textures and art that brings out the feel of a dinosaur-infested jungle. Unfortunately, I did encounter a serious glitch—whenever I turned on anti-aliasing, the screen went black.
The sound effects are superb as well—saying "welcome to Jurassic Park" in almost as many words. (The game's story is that scientific advances have brought dinosaurs back to life, and the dinosaurs have gotten out of control. Sound familiar?)
So far, so good. The biggest problem, unfortunately, is that there's not a whole lot to the game yet. Unlike Ravaged, Primal Carnage does have a Quick Match option (and it works quite well), but like Ravaged it lacks any kind of leveling system whatsoever. As you play, you earn points, but these points serve no functional purpose after the round ends, and you will not make a character more powerful by using it a lot.
Likewise, you can't unlock new guns for your humans or new abilities for your dinosaurs; the attack options you have at the beginning are the options you'll have forever. So, the game quickly becomes an FPS routine: Get control of your character, attack the opposing team until you get killed, respawn, repeat. There's no real incentive to invest time after you've gotten a feel for the various classes, as nothing you do will make the experience change. The dinosaurs' roar/buff system lets you help out your teammates, and humans need to stick together if they want to win, but none of that ever transforms the game into anything more than a basic deathmatch.
Primal Carnage also shares Ravaged's lack of game modes. So far, all that's available is human-vs.-dinosaurs team deathmatch—there isn't even a regular every-man-for-himself mode, to say nothing of more elaborate and unique modes. This game’s theme provides plenty of opportunity for creativity, so it’s disappointing that this is all we have at launch.