In a Jurassic Nutshell
When I dropped into my first match of Primal Carnage, the 12-year-old inside of me jumped for joy. Within the first fifteen minutes, I saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex charge through the jungle with a commando in his mouth, a scientist wield a sniper rifle to shoot down a flying Pteranodon, and a Raptor pounce off of a building to rip the throat out of a trapper. Thank fully, there is no story in Primal Carnage. Quick match, or a chosen combination of options for an ideal match, once you have considered your options carefully, you are dropped in the middle of a bloody deathmatch between dinosaurs and humans, with no reason to care why the two groups are fighting. In a word, Lukewarm Media’s Primal Carnage insane. In a few more words, it is great fun marred by a few setbacks.
There are no loadouts in Primal Carnage. Instead, players pick between one of five classes on each side with distinct playstyles, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. On the human side, you can jump into the shoes of the automatic weapon armed Commando, the shotgun wielding Pathfinder, the sniping Scientist, the strategic Trapper, and the blazing Pyromaniac. The dino side is where things get interesting, however. Ever wanted to jump into the shoes (paws? claws?) of a lumbering T-rex and chomp down as many people as possible? Prefer stealthing around as a raptor? Spitting blinding flem or soaring above the battlefield is more your style, the Dilophosaurus or Pteranodon might be more your style. And, of course, the Carnotaurus is always there if lowering your head and using your skull as a battering ram is more your style.
The most amazing part about Primal Carnage is that it seems balanced. Though the two teams could not be more different, I never felt like I was at a particular disadvantage on either side for any reason other than my own skill. The dinosaurs definitely have a steeper of a learning curve, but after a few games you can be mauling with the best of them. There is also great balance between each class on both sides. The T-rex seems like a no brainer, being able to take the most hits and kill humans in a single bite, but its size also makes it the most visible. Humans can see him knocking trees around from a decent distance and concentrate their fire. Similarly the Commando seems a bit overpowered at first with a beast of an assault weapon, but the immobilizing netting of the Trapper and flares of the Pathfinder are essential to fending off smaller and quicker dinos. All else aside, balance alone is reason enough to praise the game.
Problems and Drawbacks
Primal Carnage will not, however, win any technical awards. The graphics get the job done, but they are far removed from being impressive. The only thing worth pointing out is that it does a great job making the T-rex seem as powerful and imposing as it should. The other dinos run a bit jaggedly and jump even more so, but there is something about the movements of the big guy that just feels “right.”.. The most telling thing about the audio in the game is that I forgot to write about it on my first pass through of this review. There is nothing there that stuck out as good or bad, which is itself a bad thing. The occasional prehistoric roar can be menacing, but besides that I was left completely underwhelmed.
Additionally, it has too little to offer hook most people long-term. The only mode is deathmatch, and there are only five maps to play it on. While the maps are all pretty good and offer some nice variation, they stagnate quickly. Lukewarm Media has promised that the game will be expanded with expansions and DLC, but that remains to be seen. I know it is silly to expect the same amount of depth from a 15 dollar game as a 60 dollar AA title, but it does not quite match up. Additionally, the fact that dinosaurs can bite through solid walls if they initiate a bite outside of it is frustrating. I wanted to shout every time I would be standing inside of a solid shipping container, only to have a dino head pop through the side of it and warp me out.
All in all, I have enjoyed my time with Primal Carnage. The title has got its fair share of issues, but there’s something to be said about running through a jungle lit by the sheen of a flamethrower with a scientist hanging from your mouth. Now the ball is in the hands of Lukewarm Media. If they follow through with their promises of DLC opening up the game a bit, this will go from decent to very fun. As is, however, I am afraid it is a title that, while fun, will drop into the pits of memory for most gamers after a few weekends of play.
Good team/class balance, unique premise, lots of “holy #^$%” moments.
Modes and maps are scarce, animations are occasionally wonky, and the audio and visuals leave something to be desired.