Review: Primal Carnage (PC)

Primal Carnage
Publisher: Reverb Publishing
Developer: Lukewarm Media
Genre: First Person Shooter/Action
Release Date: 10/29/2012

Take a PVP shooter with five classes for each side. Remove Human characters from one side and replace with Dinosaur counterparts that act as classes, then drop them in a PVP game with five different maps and watch chaos ensue. This is the formula used to create an interesting new PVP game that I’ve fallen in love with, despite it being rather simple, mainly because it is Dinosaurs versus Humans. Is it all it’s cracked up to be for the price? Let’s take a look.

There’s not much as far as a storyline goes. Dinosaurs are rampaging around Human installations that look vaguely like something you might see in the Jurassic Park films, only much more spread out and, dare I say it, bigger. Humans mobilize to counter-attack using various methods, including flamethrowers, nets, explosive and sniper rifles. Dinosaurs start working together as military units to take out the Humans who are supposed to be smarter. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Right now, the game only has one mode, and that is kill the other team, so it’s always going to be Dino on Human action here. There is talk of another game mode being added and a few other things which I will cover a bit later, but right now, picking this game up as is, you’re looking at five rotating maps and a team-based play mode, which includes wholesale slaughter of the opposing team. Simple.

Since this game is so much about the gameplay, we’ll tackle that next. Each team has five classes that work well together, so much so that just going at either group head on will just get you slaughtered. Yes, you’ll actually have to employ some real tactics for this game when you’re playing either faction or you’re basically going to end up just getting killed over and over again without returning the favor. Starting with the Humans then, we have the Scientist. She carries a sniper rifle and a tranq gun for her secondary. Good for long range kills and slowing down the Dinos, The Scientist is solid, but has some limits for close up combat. The Commando has a grenade launcher and a heavier gun to lay in with. The Pathfinder uses a shotgun to devastating effect at close range and tosses flares that, while they give away your position, also make it really hard for the Dinosaurs to see anything nearby. The Trapper is interesting in that you have two six-shooters and a Netgun that you can use to fire off nets to incapacitate the Dinosaurs, or at least slow them down for you or the rest of your team to take down. Lastly we have the Pyromaniac, who has a flamethrower and a chainsaw in one weapon. He also carries explosives. Working together, a team of just four of these classes in combination, or even three, can hold off a group of Dinosaurs for a good long while, especially if the Dinosaurs don’t work together, as the players of the Dinosaurs almost seem like they never do.

But what about the Dinosaur classes you say? What do they bring to the table? Well, none of them use guns if that’s what you’re wondering. It all balances out really, even without ranged weapons, and the class set-up and Dinosaur choices matter. None of these are your cuddly variety Dinosaurs. First up you have the Raptor, or Novaraptor, a largish carnivore that is obviously a take on the Utahraptor used in Jurassic Park. Raptors are like your fast-moving scout class. They have the least amount of hit points of the classes, but can make it across the map the fastest. Their claws are nasty and they have a pounce attack that can hold a human down while they tear them apart. The Dilophosaurus fills the Scientist and Trapper role. It’s almost as fast as the Raptor, has about the same hit points, but can’t knock people down to devour them. Like the Jurassic Park Dilo’s, they spit venom that blinds other players and causes some damage, but also makes it very easy for you or other Dino players to take them down when they can only shoot and run around blind. The Pteradon is the only way to take to the skies in the game, and gives the Dinosaurs a unique advantage in that way. They can make enemies show up for your team on screen by flying over top or swoop in to take out the bothersome sniper on a rooftop by grabbing them, lifting them high up over the map and letting go, dropping them to their deaths. Pteradons aren’t very good on the ground at all, even though they have the ability to attack there, working better as spotters and “Ëœdeath from above’ snipers. The Carnataurus is a mini-version of my favorite big guy, the T. Rex, for obvious reasons. They’re smaller than a Rex, meaning they can get into tighter spaces without having to go around a wall, but are also faster and have a devastating charge attack that can knock opponents around and kill them. The T. Rex is the tank of the Dinosaur team. He’s slower and bigger, which limits him on the field, but he can take a lot of abuse, and Rex can devour humans easily but also is big enough that, if they’re up on a roof or catwalk, he can snatch them from there as well. A team of two Carnaturus and one T.Rex is nearly unstoppable as they descend on a group of humans, if they co-ordinate it just right.

Control-wise I went with mouse and keyboard on this one. WASD and mouse controls are your typical shooter set-up, with mouse buttons handling firing and using the scroll wheel for alternate weapons. F handles melee attack and E lets you interact with healing boxes or corpses, depending on which side you’re on. Be aware that healing up makes you a target for a number of seconds while you’re doing it, but respawns are quick. Flight on the Pteradon is achieved by jumping with the spacebar, then using the shift key for sprinting to get you further up in the air. After that, it’s all WASD and mouse look for controls, unless you want more speed. Once you get the hang of it, the Pteradon handles nicely and has much less of a learning curve than, say, a helicopter in other PVP games. Also, when you’re playing humans it’s in first person, however, as a dino, you’re always in third person view.

Visually the game does okay. The Dinosaurs are very much inspired by Jurassic Park in both look and movement, especially in the way they attack. Jurassic Park took a few liberties with scientific fact to get them moving in what we think would be a realistic fashion, so as a fan of the extinct species I’m not screaming inside. Humans feel very generic, even though they are fairly detailed. You could drag and drop these guys into any other shooter (well maybe not Ravaged or Team Fortress 2), and they’d fit in. The weapon effects are handled well and nets and getting blinded by spit are both interesting experiences that translate for everyone else as well. I did notice some stuttering here and there, but it seemed more from lag than anything else, and being on a decent server, you don’t get much. The levels look pretty good and each one feels unique visually. The night time and rain effects also help to differentiate things.

Audibly you may recognize some of the Dinosaur vocals, as they are very similar to the ones we’ve heard before in a certain movie about genetically re-created Dinosaurs. The music, when it’s there, is okay, and the weapons effects and sounds are decent. The humans have small bits of dialogue that, if you’re paying attention to them, can be hilarious, as they often quote different lines from related films. Say, if you’re getting pounced on by a Raptor and torn to shreds, you might hear shouts like “Shoot her! Shoot her!” It does the job it needs to get you into the game on this end and not a whole lot more, other than the Easter eggs, which I loved.

As far as replayability, there are Steam achievements, but they won’t unlock just yet, as they haven’t been fully implemented. There are leaderboards, however, which generally keep people coming back. The developers are also getting ready to put in a new game mode which sounds like something akin to resource control, along with new maps. These aren’t extra-cost DLC, they’re free with the game when they get them put out, so that could see people coming back for more. If this game wasn’t getting any more updates or support, I’d say the $15 was too much, but because it is, I think the price is about right for what you’re getting. There’s a nice variety between all the classes and even between all the maps, as some tactics won’t work between the different maps. While it’s harder to put a price on something that’s just multiplayer, I wouldn’t feel bad at all dropping the $15 on this.

While some of the Dinosaurs have been lifted, at least looks wise, from Jurassic Park, the way they’ve implemented them into this Humans Vs Dinosaurs gameplay is decidedly unique. The way teams actually have to work together is different, and there are actual tactics you can employ using either side. The maps, while an homage to something we’ve seen before, are totally new and are a lot of fun to run around in. While the other mode would have been nice at launch, along with a few more maps, I can’t fault what they’ve done with this mode at all. I’ve been playing this off and on and the beauty of it just being multiplayer is I can pop on and get a match of this in the morning or afternoon while I wait for my wife or kill some time between errands. I do find that it’s only a few matches before I put it down though and move on to something else. Even swapping between the two factions only holds my interest for so long. Ideally though, the price and the fact that this is such a fun concept helps, as does the fact that that you’re almost always going to have people on and playing. I’ve yet to pop on and not find a few servers with a bunch of people on, and this is at all hours of the day.

I’ve not had it crash out except when it first fires up, and even then it’s not even to a loading screen, but I’ve been getting that in Mass Effect 3 and in a few other U3 driven games now and had a recent Windows update so it’s probably a driver issue, especially since Windows keeps killing my network card. So I can’t fault it there. I have had it lose my graphics settings twice and had to go and reset it to my preferred. I mentioned earlier that achievements aren’t working, even though they have a ton of them. That’s supposed to be in a coming update. Right now though, the game feels polished but unfinished. When you’re in and playing, everything works great and looks good and plays smooth, and you have a whole other mode coming down the pipe with more maps and the achievements, for those who care about them. Granted this is all in a free update, but I do admit it makes it feel like the game wasn’t done before release. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, it’s a blast. I do think it’ll be a lot more interesting with the new maps and game mode though.

The Scores
Modes: Below Average
Graphics: Great
Sound: Above Average
Control and Gameplay: Great
Replayability: Good
Balance: Decent
Originality: Above Average
Addictiveness: Mediocre
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Classic

Short Attention Span Summary
Primal Carnage is a tight PVP multiplayer game focused on pitting a team of Human based players versus a team of carnivorous Dinosaur players. Each class has a far different role from the others, and the game actually has great tactical play for players willing to work to their teams strengths in taking out the other team. While based off Jurassic Park for their inspiration, the game does have a feel of its own, and it’s not bad as is for the price, especially with free DLC coming that has more maps and a new game mode. Personally, I think it’s a blast, but I can see people wanting to stick to more traditional shooters. I like the twist and change-up they have going on, and playing as a T.Rex is always a bonus.



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