[Review] Primal Carnage
Dinosaur games have a rough history. Meaning, they’ve always kinda sucked. I don’t know why. Game developers have been able to to amazing things with technology throughout the years. However, dinosaurs have never really gotten the love they deserve. You might have some arguments with the Dino Crisis series or some of the Jurassic Park titles, but even then you weren’t always able to play as a dinosaur. Thankfully, Lukewarm Media have taken it upon themselves to rectify this injustice.
Primal Carnage is a deathmatch style multiplayer experience for the PC. Developed by indie studio Lukewarm Media, this game offers the unique competitive experience of humans vs. dinosaurs. The ten available classes (five human, five dinosaur) are completely unique and have different weapons and abilities that make for some really action-packed matches. The first team to 45 kills is the winner.
The human side is played in the first person, while the dinosaur side is played in the third person. It’s an interesting design choice that lends itself well to the situation. Dinosaurs, being hunters, will have better senses so it makes sense that they have more field of view than the human team.
The human side classes are the Commando, Pathfinder, Pyro, Scientist and Trapper. The Pathfinder wields a shotgun to dispatch dinos and has a secondary tool: a flare that blinds dinosaurs. The Pyro has a flamethrower equipped with a chainsaw and a couple grenades. The Scientist is the sniper of the group and also carries a tranq gun that disorients dinos and can kill smaller dinos in high doses. The Trapper has a net gun that can completely trap three of the dinos and hinder the larger two. Finally the Commando, as his name suggests, utilizes a machine gun equipped with a grenade launcher. The Commando is probably your best bet when your team is being harassed by a T-Rex. Yeah… a T-Rex.
The T-Rex is the most visually impressive beast on the dino team. He’s a big lumbering tank that can eat human players whole and stomp on them. To balance how strong and popular the Rex is, his availability is limited to how many players are in the game. In addition to the Rex, we have the Pteranodon which is a flying dino that can swoop in and pick up humans and drop them from deadly heights. The Dilophosaurus, the venom-spitting hooligan we know from Jurassic Park, continues his trollish ways in the game by blinding human players and generally harassing them. The Carnotaurus is a giant stampeding beast that utilizes his size and speed to send opposing players corpses flying, and can also use his tail to the same effect. Finally we have the Novaraptor, a fast moving and stealthy dino that can pounce on unsuspecting players and feast on them.
In addition to their main abilities, all dinosaurs have a growling mechanic that differs between them. Some of these growls enhance their own abilities, like the Dilophosaurus whose growl increases their venom spitting distance significantly, or can provide assistance to their teammates, like the Pteranodon who can mark all human players in its sight.
Looking at this game, you might be asking yourself “well, who would NOT want to play the dinos? And aren’t they infinitely more powerful than the humans?” I’m happy to say that the game is surprisingly very balanced between the two sides. Each class has its strengths and weaknesses. The Rex can devastate a group of human players, but he’s a huge target so he’s easy to take down as a team. There is a counter for each class, so class diversity and teamwork is important for survival.
While it’s true that the dinos are a lot of fun to play, the human classes are fun as well. Netting a raptor before he gets the chance to pounce on you and going in for a knife kill is very satisfying. Same with sniping a Pteranodon that has just picked up one of your teammates… it just feels good, man.
The game also looks gorgeous. The way the sun hits the foliage in some of these maps is just spectacular. The night-time lighting effects on the airbase map make for some tense moments on the human side because the darkness conceals the raptors rather well. The maps are well designed, balanced, and fun to play. The maps are big enough that the Rex can move around most areas without issue, but there are plenty of spots that the humans are safe from his jaws. There are only five maps available at the moment, but more are in the works.
Being a fan of sound design in games, I was very impressed by the sound effects in this game. The Rex’s roar… oh man. Terrifying stuff. The gun sound effects are really great too, specifically the Pathfinder’s shotgun. I really enjoy the Pathfinder class in general, but the shotgun blast just sounds so powerful. It’s also important to listen to your immediate surroundings so you can hopefully pick up on a raptor that’s stalking you. They did a great job with all of the weapon and dino sounds.
Like every game, it has its issues. There are a couple of bugs that still need to be ironed out. Mostly dealing with terrain, these bugs aren’t normally game breaking but can cause some issues. I’ve discovered random spots where the ground textures will disappear, but I don’t know that I could stumble upon them again unless I tried. There was also an instance where I was playing as a Dilophosaurus, and I guess because he’s a bit smaller I got stuck in between some rocks and was unable to get out until a human came by and killed me. These are just minor issues that I’m sure will be fixed shortly, and they do not detract from the overall experience.
Overall, Primal Carnage is just such a fun game. It’s incredibly well polished for an indie game. I’ve played a ton of multiplayer deathmatch style games and this one really stands out as one of the best. I only heard of it for the first time at PAX last month, and I instantly fell in love with it. Since that build of the game, they have put a generous amount of polish on the game. With a bunch of free DLC planned for the game, as well as additional game modes, this is THE game to go to for a fresh multiplayer experience. To top it off: it’s only $14.99 on Steam, which is a steal.
I think the Lukewarm Media guys really have something special here. If you’re in the market for a new multiplayer game of pre-historic proportions, definitely give Primal Carnage a shot.
[+Fun Class-based Gameplay] [+You Can Play as a Freaking Dinosaur!] [+Excellent Sound Design & Visuals] [+Well Designed Maps] [+Massive Bang-For-Your-Buck] [-Minor Gameplay Glitches]