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Primal Carnage PC Review

If there is a more terrifying concept than being chased by a dinosaur, I’d like for someone to tell me. For all intents and purposes, Primal Carnage examines the horrific relationship and carnage that would exist if dinosaurs and humanity shared space and time. Yes, the premise is a bit Jurassic Park, but the gameplay and tense situations make this game more Spielberg  than a Joe Johnston enterprise.

The simplistic nature of the game is first presented through its Main Menu. There is no Story Mode or other extended options – you have the option of searching through servers for a particular match or joining a quick match. Once you’ve agonized and made your decision, the game itself will begin in one of five maps, each one suggesting the same basic premise: survive. While the game is properly named for its gameplay, the lack of more maps and other modes beyond Team Deathmatch may lessen your desire to play the game for an extended amount of time. You’ll know exactly what to expect each time you enter the game, a promise that developer Lukewarm Media plans to address through DLC and expansion packs in the future.

The addition of extra content in the future can only be a good improvement, however, as the gameplay actually delivers a balanced, exciting atmosphere. When you enter a match, you’re given the option of perusing the map to locate foes before actually entering the fray (an interesting idea that could translate well in other first-person shooters). The maps may be somewhat small, but the environment is actually well developed. The setting is an island (no true geographical location is given) where an awry government experiment has led to dinosaurs being loosed. No, Jon Hammond doesn’t make an appearance, but the terrain’s rock, forest, and compound scenery provides just enough atmosphere to suggest that the experiment has gone terribly wrong. Within the maps, you’ll find bridges, gateways, boulders, and vehicles scattered just enough to tell a story of chaos that looks great even at minimum system specifications. Running at the recommended specifications, the game has a great draw distance and, even better, noticeably improves with even small modifications.

Once you’ve satisfied your need for exploration, you can choose from five different Mercenaries and begin your attempt to survive. Statistics keep track of kills and assists, but if you’re playing this game for stats, you’re probably in the wrong game. In typical deathmatch fashion, each mercenary offers a different gameplay experience; I personally gravitated towards the “Commando” as he has the biggest gun and can run rather quickly. The other options – Scientist, Pathfinder, Trapper, and Pyromaniac – are each balanced well, so it was beneficial for me to operate as a different class if too many people decided to be Commandos at once. Balance, surprisingly for a game of this nature, is fundamentally key to survival. You have to work together or you will – with absolute certainty – be killed. You’ll be able to see other humans from across the map (no reason is given for why character outlines “glow” from across the map, but it’s probably best not to ask), which should indicate how important it is for you to find and stay with other characters.

Conversely, playing as a Dinosaur – which you will do in every match once you’ve died three times – is a challenging but extremely rewarding experience. To match the mercenaries, Dinosaurs also operate with five different classes: Novaraptor, Dilophosaurus (think Dennis Nedry’s killer), Pteranodon (aerial combat), Carnotauras (medium-sized nasty), and Tyrannosaurus (nasty-sized nasty). Each of the dinosaur classes operate from the third-person perspective, offering a very different experience than playing as a Mercenary. Some clever balancing – like the Tyrannosaurus only appearing during matches that feature over ten players – allows the dinosaurs to feel understandably more powerful, yet not invincible, against the mercenaries.

Regrettably, while the mercenary class feels somewhat tight and dinosaurs are undoubtedly more powerful, playing as a dinosaur feels slightly more sluggish than I would have imagined. They move quickly, but the controls feel somewhat touchy and over-reactive. While humans are extremely agile and shifty, only the Novaraptor felt similar; coincidentally, the Novaraptor class is by far the best designed, and you’ll more than likely gravitate to it once you’re past the initial thrill of playing as a T-Rex. And yes, playing as a T-Rex feels incredibly powerful, even if your slow movements usually mean death if you come across more than one mercenary.

Ultimately, Primal Carnage is exactly what you’d expect from the game’s title. While it doesn’t offer a variety (another mode, an homage to Schwarzenegger, called “Get to the Choppa” is planned) of experiences, you won’t find another comparable shooter, and it has a surprisingly robust multiplayer crowd. You won’t ever wait to find a game if you select Quick Match, which is a testament to how much fun killing dinosaurs can be. Well worth the fifteen dollar purchase, especially if you’re the type that gets a thrill from being torn to bits by creatures we were never meant to encounter. Happy hunting.

7 out of 10